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Pierce County Becomes First In Northwest To Approve 'In God We Trust' Motto Display

Ad Meskens
Wikimedia Commons
This file photo shows the exterior of the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

A divided county council in Pierce County, Washington Tuesday voted to display the motto "In God We Trust" in its chambers, becoming the first jurisdiction in the Northwest to take part in a national campaign to feature the motto.

But the approval came with a twist.

Self-described agnostics, humanists and a Jew testified that the public display of the "In God We Trust" motto would alienate them their government. The chief proponent, Pierce County Council member Jim McCune, said he views the motto as universal.

"It is our national motto," he said. "It is not religious. It is not a church-state issue. It has been settled in the courts."

The divisiveness prompted another council member to propose the substitution of an earlier national motto, "E Pluribus Unum," which is Latin for "Out of many, one." Finally, a council majority, with a 4-to-3 vote, decided to prominently display both.

A California-based nonprofit group called In God We Trust~America promotes that motto's display. It lists nearly 400 city and county councils as having joined its movement in recent years. Until this week, none on that list were in Oregon, Idaho or Washington.

Tom Banse covers national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reports from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events are unfolding. Tom's stories can be found online and heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.

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