Display of 'In God We Trust' at City Hall on Next Meeting Agenda
• No Opposition Expressed on Issue
BY BILL KOENEKER
Should municipal officials approve the public display of the motto, "In God We Trust" at Malibu City Hall?
That is the question posed before the Malibu City Council at its meeting next week.
Councilmembers Pamela Conley Ulich and Lou La Monte want their colleagues to consider the matter of placing what is called the United States national motto in City Hall, according to City Manager Jim Thorsen, in a memo to council members.
According to the city manager, on July 30, 1957, the U.S. code section 302 established the saying found on U.S. dollar bills and coins as the country's national motto.
On Nov. 13, 2002, the 107th Congress "reaffirmed the exact language that has appeared in the motto for decades," according to Thorsen's research.
A private lobbying organization, In God We Trust—America, Inc. was put together to promote the display of the national motto in city halls and county headquarters across the country.
According to the campaign's website, 364 cities or counties across the country, including 89 in California, have approved the displays.
However, the motto is not without controversy. For a long time, critics have contended the words are indeed a matter of "law respecting an establishment of religion," by the government and violates the establishment clause of the first amendment and the separation of church and state.
Critics went to court in 1970, but the appellate court ruled otherwise, saying "It is quite obvious that the national motto and the slogan on coinage and currency 'In God We Trust' has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion. Its use is of patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no true resemblance to a governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise."
The U. S. Supreme Court, in settling the matter, also held that the nation's "institutions presuppose a Supreme Being and that government recognition of God does not constitute the establishment of such a state church as the Constitution's authors intended to prohibit." The U.S. Supreme Court, in settling the matter, also held that the nation's "institutions presuppose a Supreme Being and that government recognition of God does not constitute the establishment of such a state church as the Constitution's authors intended to prohibit."