A group plans to rally outside the Clark County Public Service Center on Tuesday morning to protest a proposal to display the words “In God We Trust” in the county’s main public hearing room.
Clark County councilors are scheduled to consider the proposal during their regular Tuesday meeting, which begins at 10 a.m. in the public service center. Opponents say they’ll begin gathering outside the building at 9 a.m.
“We just felt that it was important to push back on that,” said Karen Hengerer, who opposes the idea and has helped organize the gathering. Hengerer said she and others consider the proposal an affront on religious freedom, and “freedom from religion.”
The idea was floated by Councilor Tom Mielke, who has characterized the move as a way to honor a long-standing tradition in the United States. “In God We Trust” has officially been the national motto since 1956.
Clark County would be only the second local jurisdiction in Washington to display the motto in its public chamber, according to In God We Trust-America, Inc., an organization that advocates for putting the phrase in public buildings. The other is Pierce County, where leaders voted to display the motto last year.
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, which has reached out to Clark County and many other counties and cities across the nation.
Tuesday’s gathering against the proposal is co-sponsored by the Portland chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a group called Vancouver Skeptics and others.
Hengerer said she hopes county councilors will drop the proposal but acknowledged it’s still likely to be approved. In addition to Mielke’s support, Councilor David Madore on Friday night posted a video supporting the national motto on his public Facebook page.
Tuesday’s meeting will begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the sixth-floor hearing room of the Clark County Public Service Center, 1300 Franklin St. in Vancouver.