After hours of heated debate on Tuesday, Washington state’s Pierce County Council voted to display the national motto “In God We Trust” in its chambers.
The Tacoma News Tribune reports that the council also approved displaying a second slogan: “E Pluribus Unum,” a Latin phrase appearing on U.S. currency and the U.S. seal that means “out of many, one.” The addition did not satisfy critics who claimed the former phrase is a religious term that divides.
“It doesn’t take away the insult,” Sam Mulvey, an atheist from Tacoma, told the newspaper.
Citizens and councilmembers vociferously debated the issue for more than two hours, with one resident being escorted from the chambers by police deputies after he made disparaging remarks about some religions. Both slogans are now expected to appear on a plaque in council chambers as early as November after the 4-3 vote.
Councilman Jim McCune, the Republican sponsor of the measure, has said the national motto is inspiring and patriotic — and he’s unclear why the proposal has created such controversy.
“’In God We Trust’ is universal,” he told the newspaper earlier this week. “It doesn’t have ‘In Muhammad We Trust,’ it doesn’t have ‘In Jesus We Trust.’”
Some residents, however, weren't moved by that argument.
“This is a secular place to do government business in,” Elaine Nevins said.
Others supported the phrase, saying the U.S. Supreme Court has backed it as well. Kay Frymier, of Gig Harbor, said she favored invoking God's name on the wall of Council Chambers.
“It is my opinion we need all the help that we can get,” she told the newspaper.
But Catherine Forte, of Lakewood, who identified herself as a person of faith, said she didn’t agree with the decision.
“It’s divisive,” she said.
Another opponent to the measure said the words are tantamount to a Christian slogan that says “anyone who is different is not welcome here,” according to Tacoma resident Adam Smith.