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Feb. 6, 2023

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‘In God We Trust’ effort’s leader monitors Clark County debate

Bakersfield, Calif., city councilor reached out to Mielke

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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.

For more information about In God We Trust-America, visit www.ingodwetrust-america.org

The Clark County councilors will take to the dais once again Tuesday to discuss hanging “In God We Trust” in its public hearing room.

Through more than two weeks of shouting and frustration from those on both sides of the issue, a city councilor from Bakersfield, Calif., has been quietly watching — and praying — for Clark County and its elected representatives.

• 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.

Jacquie Sullivan, a warm and soft-spoken woman, is the brain behind In God We Trust-America, a nonprofit dedicated to seeing the national motto hung in every county and city office in the United States. Sullivan is the longest-running city councilor in Bakersfield history, after she was elected to the position in 1995. What followed, she said, was a “magnificent story.”

In 2002, she led the charge to post “In God We Trust” in the Bakersfield council chambers, and said it’s her most important accomplishment since she has held elected office. Two years later, Sullivan took her mission nationwide with the launch of In God We Trust-America.

Today, the organization is supported solely by donations and volunteer efforts, and provides starter packets — including example resolutions — to municipalities interested in following in Bakersfield’s footsteps.

About a month ago, Sullivan reached out to Clark County Councilor Tom Mielke to ask him to lead a resolution to post the motto in the Clark County public hearing room.

“There are those like Tom (Mielke), like me, several hundred, thousands of elected officials who know it’s something good and something they want to do in their own community,” Sullivan told The Columbian.

On the organization’s Facebook page, Sullivan has posted several Columbian articles about the proposal, urging the 2,017 people who have liked the group’s page to pray for Clark County.

“We trust God’s will!” Sullivan wrote. “Let’s show some love and encouragement to our brothers and sisters in Clark County.”

If Clark County passes the resolution Tuesday, it will join 505 other counties and cities nationwide to have done so, including Pierce County, whose council voted in July to display the motto.

The Columbian spoke with Sullivan last week. Here are some key points from that conversation:

o Sullivan on what started the campaign: “I’m a Christian. Thankful to be, happy to be, I am what I am, and I’m known to be what I am. (In 2002), I was listening to the Christian radio stations and heard that there was a small group back east protesting that the national motto was displayed. I thought, “Well, my God.” I was really offended that they were offended, because of course to me, it was obvious that our motto does bear God’s name. What a wonderful motto for our country.”

For more information about In God We Trust-America, visit <a href="http://www.ingodwetrust-america.org">www.ingodwetrust-america.org</a>

o Sullivan’s response to those who say posting the motto will be divisive: “Everything has to be based on, is there more in favor or more opposed? The last report I heard from Fox News is that 87 percent support ‘In God We Trust’ for our national motto. (The Columbian was unable to identify exactly where or when Fox News reported this, but according to a 2005 Fox News poll, 92 percent believed “In God We Trust” should remain on U.S. currency). We cannot fail to do something because there are some opposed. God’s values protect everyone.”

o Sullivan on what the council should do Tuesday: “Have it on the agenda as an action item, and just take the vote. It’s time.”

o Sullivan on the role of religion in local politics: “I strongly feel that it’s our (politicians’) responsibility that we have a strong faith in God. It demonstrates a commitment to the values our country was founded upon.”

o Sullivan on the time spent discussing the motto and whether it’s a distraction from other issues: “The thing is you can be sure that roads are still being paved and other decisions are being made. The meeting lasts a little longer.”

o Sullivan on what’s next for In God We Trust-America: “This is the tip of the iceberg. Our mission is for every city and county in America (to display the motto). It is our identity. It’s an important part of our identity. It does go along with our early history. We are ‘One nation, under God.’ “

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