Clark County councilors next month will consider a proposal to prominently display the words “In God We Trust” in the county’s main public hearing room.
The idea came from Councilor Tom Mielke, who characterized the proposal as a way to honor a long-standing tradition of the United States. “In God We Trust” has officially been the national motto since 1956.
“A lot of times we drift away from it,” Mielke said.
Mielke said he’d like the phrase displayed at the front of the hearing room, near Clark County’s motto: “Proud past, promising future.” Councilors will consider the proposal during a regular meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 10, in the Clark County Public Service Center at 1300 Franklin St. in Vancouver.
Clark County would be only the second local entity in Washington to display the national motto in its public chamber, after Pierce County leaders voted to do so last year. Almost 500 counties and cities nationwide have approved similar measures, according to In God We Trust-America, Inc., an organization that advocates for the display of the motto in public buildings. Mielke said he has been in contact with the organization.
In God We Trust-America’s mission “is to keep God’s name in America, and acknowledge and affirm the role that faith in God plays in the public lives of the citizens in this country, and in the core values of our nation,” according to the organization.
Similar proposals elsewhere have sparked controversy in many cases. Critics have opposed the display of a religious phrase in public government spaces, evoking arguments in favor of the separation of church and state.
Mielke said he doesn’t expect a strong backlash here.
“It’s on all your money, too,” he said.
In God We Trust became the national motto in 1956 after a law was passed by Congress and signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The motto replaced “E Pluribus Unum,” a Latin phrase meaning “out of many, one.” The words “In God We Trust” have been used on U.S. currency since 1864, according to the U.S. Treasury.
In 2013, Clark County also began incorporating an invocation into its weekly hearings — another proposal that originally came from Mielke. The resolution adopted then stated that the prayer time would include all faiths.