TARRANT COUNTY, Texas — A tax collector in Texas has decided to print the motto ‘In God We Trust’ on outgoing office stationery, generating both support and opposition over the usage of the statement.
Tarrant County tax assessor and collector Ron Wright told reporters recently that he has been contemplating printing the nation’s motto on county envelopes for a year, and will soon also add it to the annual tax statements.
“I think it was more seeing the elimination of the phrase and how things that have been iconic to us and have been important to us historically because of lawsuits and things like that,” Wright told CBS 11 News. “People are almost afraid to mention God anywhere officially.”
“All the lawsuits that school districts have had, they’ve sent the message that we’re not allowed to use the word God officially, and of course that’s a mistake because the courts have never said there was a problem with that,” he added to KTRH-TV.
He opined that people view the national motto, which was signed into law by then-President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956, in different ways.
“One could look at it and see it as a religious statement, and one could look at it as a patriotic statement and not a religious statement at all,” Wright explained.
But some who have learned of Wright’s endeavor, which he said only cost $3 to implement, have already taken issue with the concept.
“Those are my tax dollars, and I don’t want them funding a religious opinion,” resident Leslie Weid Fraser complained to the Star-Telegram. “I consider that a violation of the doctrine of separation of church and state. It is true that my coins and bills contain this phrase, but it has been on those for years and I suppose I have grown accustomed. This is something new and a lot closer to home.”
Atheist blogger Hemant Mehta also denounced the use of the motto and called upon readers to complain.
“Wright is using the Motto Defense to give a big middle finger to all the atheists in the county, and he’s using his office to do it,” he wrote. “It’s a little odd, too, that this comes from the tax assessor, given that the Bible has something to say about the mixing of God and mammon.”
But others have found no problem with Wright’s decision and are supportive of the idea.
“It’s awesome. I love it,” stated two local residents interviewed by CBS 11 News.
“That’s what [this nation] was founded on,” another stated.
As previously reported, some cities have come under fire for utilizing the motto in recent years, but over 300 municipalities nationwide have decided to adopt it as their own due to the efforts of California politician Jacquie Sullivan. Prominent atheist Michael Newdow also recently sought have the phrase removed from American currency, asserting that it violates the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution, but the courts disagreed.
“The [Supreme] Court has recognized in a number of its cases that the motto, and its inclusion in the design of U.S. currency, is a ‘reference to our religious heritage,’” wrote the Second Circuit Court of Appeals this past May. “We therefore hold, in line with the Supreme Court’s dicta, that [the motto appearing on currency does] not violate the Establishment Clause.”
The phrase “In God We Trust” is believed to have originated with the Star Spangled Banner, written during the War of 1812—less than 40 years after the signing of the Constitution—which declares, “And this be our motto: In God We Trust!”
Photo: CBS 11