‘In God We Trust’ protests planned for Tuesday

Demonstrators opposing, supporting proposal will be at councilors meeting

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Public Meeting

• What: Clark County councilors' discussion on posting "In God We Trust" in the public hearing room at the Clark County Public Service Center.

• When: Demonstrators to arrive at 9 a.m. Tuesday; meeting begins at 10 a.m.

• Where: Clark County Public Service Center, 1300 Franklin St., Vancouver.

Public Meeting

What: Clark County councilors’ discussion on posting “In God We Trust” in the public hearing room at the Clark County Public Service Center.

When: Demonstrators to arrive at 9 a.m. Tuesday; meeting begins at 10 a.m.

Where: Clark County Public Service Center, 1300 Franklin St., Vancouver.

Dozens of protestors both for and against a proposal to post “In God We Trust” in the Clark County councilors’ public hearing room plan to rally at Tuesday’s meeting.

After three weeks of discussion, the council plans to vote this week whether to post the national motto in the Clark County Public Service Center. If the resolution passes, the county will follow the lead of more than 500 other cities and counties across the country that have done so, according to the group In God We Trust-America.

The proposal — originally pitched by Councilor Tom Mielke last month after the Bakersfield, Calif., group reached out to him — has drawn ire from primarily non-religious people who believe the phrase will ostracize those who do not believe in God.

That sentiment, however, is mirrored by supporters of the proposal. Rev. Ron Brandon, who spoke in favor on Feb. 10 of posting the motto, said protesters are “jamming their lifestyle down our throats.”

Brandon estimates he’s rallied between 50 and 60 people to attend and speak at Tuesday’s meeting — four times as many as the 14 who spoke in favor at the councilors’ last public hearing on the issue.

“I’m hoping the council will hear the loud voice of the silent majority,” Brandon said.

The long-running debate has drawn attention from organizations locally as well as nationally, including from the American Family Association. The Mississippi-based religious organization, which says it promotes traditional family values, was listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its anti-LGBT campaign.

Last week, the organization called on the 1,500 Clark County subscribers to its email newsletter to attend Tuesday’s meeting.

“Rest assured, the atheists will be out in full force,” the email reads.

Randy Sharp, a spokesman for the American Family Association, said promoting the posting of “In God We Trust” in public buildings has been a special project of the organization since 2000.

“Don’t let your voice be drowned out,” Sharp said. “If you believe the national motto serves a great focus, to be silent is to allow the other side to win. Don’t become complacent with our patriotism.”

Members from the Young Democrats of Clark County, who also spoke at the Feb. 10 meeting, plan to attend the meeting to oppose the motto.

A member of the group, Mike Pond, said the council is “wasting time and resources” by continuing to discuss posting “In God We Trust.”

“Who is going to grow up and be the adult in the room?” he said. “This is not the business that you should be focusing your efforts on.”

The Center for Inquiry, which is based in Portland but has members in Clark County, has also called on its members to attend Tuesday’s meeting. In a press release issued Saturday, CFI-Portland Executive Director Brian Harvey said a coalition of local organizations and individuals who oppose the resolution recommends that the council instead post “E Pluribus Unum”–“out of many, one” — which served as a national motto until “In God We Trust” was adopted by an act of Congress in 1956.

“It reminds Americans that despite our differences, we are one nation,” Harvey wrote.

The organization is also helping circulate a petition to Clark County, available on humanistsofwashington.org/clark-county-letter, urging the council not to post “In God We Trust.”

Mielke, who has repeatedly said in council meetings that he thinks listening to several more hours of public comment is a waste of time, did not return a request for comment for this story.

Demonstrators plan to arrive at 9 a.m. for Tuesday’s meeting, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. in the Clark County Public Service Center at 1300 Franklin St., in the sixth-floor hearing room.