Atheist Group Targets New Mexico City for Posting ‘In God We Trust’ Motto in City Hall

Alamogordo, New Mexico — An atheist activist group is targeting a city in New Mexico for its recent decision to post the motto “In God We Trust” on the walls in City Hall.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation in Madison, Wisconsin sent a letter to city officials in Alamogordo, New Mexico warning that the motto should not be established.

“It is inappropriate for the city commission to adopt a proposal that would place ‘In God We Trust’ at City Hall,” wrote president Annie Laurie Gaylor. “Statements about a God have no place in government buildings.”

She asserted that officials could not use city chambers “as a vehicle for promoting their religious views.”

But Mayor Susie Galea says that the motto is permitted under the law because it is not religiously-charged, and that the city has the freedom to post inspirational phrases.

“The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the motto ‘In God We Trust’ is a patriotic political statement as it relates to the U.S. Constitution,” she stated. “The motto is permitted in government buildings.”

The Alamogordo City Commission had voted in January to adopt the motto and display it in city chambers, and is also considering having the slogan included in the city logo. Mayor Galea had proposed the concept to the Commission, and various members of the public and city officials discussed the matter at length before moving forward.

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While it is not known how the Freedom From Religion Foundation became aware of the motto being posted in City Hall, it is likely that a resident that disagreed with the decision contacted the national organization to submit a complaint. The Las Cruces Sun-News — which translated in English means “the crosses” — reports that several individuals had opposed the measure when it was presented, stating that it was not “inclusive” of all residents, and that the nation is rather secular than Christian.

The publication further outlines that resident Rosemarie Ferrara opined that politicians should focus their decisions on science rather than religion, but that fellow citizen Susan Payne said that it was “insulting to [her] as a Christian” to be told to check her faith at the door.

The motion was ultimately adopted, although two commissioners decided to sit out the vote. Private citizens and a Christian organization called the Ministerial Alliance donated the sign, which is now displayed in commission chambers at City Hall.

The city of Artesia, New Mexico likewise adopted the motto just last year. The move is stated to be part of an effort that was initiated by a California politician over a decade ago, and over 300 cities nationwide have decided to adopt the motto as their own.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has not stated whether it will take further steps to have the slogan removed from committee chambers. However, as previously reported, it currently is suing the federal government to have “In God We Trust” eradicated from all U.S. currency.

The phrase 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!”

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