The City Council is scheduled to vote Monday about whether to have the national motto “In God We Trust” displayed prominently in the new City Hall, putting itself in the middle of the church-state debate.
Mayor Oscar Trevino said he proposed the idea to remind council members of their moral and ethical responsibilities. The location of the motto has not been here decided, he said.
“It’s the reason we say a prayer at the start of a meeting,” Trevino said. “We’re asking for guidance to do the right thing. Hopefully, it’s just a reminder that this is the people’s business. This is not our business.”
City departments are moving into the new $70 million City Hall off Boulevard 26 in phases this month, so officials are urging residents to call City Hall, 817-427-6000, in advance if they have city business.
The current City Hall at 7301 NE Loop 820 will close once all the departments complete their move. Other departments on Dick Fisher and Glenview drives will also be relocated to the new building.
In a letter to the council, Assistant City Manager Paulette Hartman wrote that the organization In God We Trust America Inc. invites governments nationwide to support the “legal and public display” of the national motto. The California-based, nonprofit sees it as a patriotic act, founder Jacquie Sullivan said.
North Richland Hills could be the first city in Tarrant County to join the movement. No Tarrant County communities are listed on the In God We Trust America Inc. website, though 54 other Texas governments are.
“In God We Trust” became the national motto in 1956. The words have been on U.S. currency since 1864, and the slogan is engraved above the entrance to the U.S. Senate chamber and the U.S. House of Representatives speaker’s dais, Hartman wrote. More than 589 cities and counties “have joined this patriotic movement and display the national motto,” Hartman wrote.
The motto often sparks opposition. An atheist group in January filed suit in federal court saying the motto on U.S. currency violates the separation of church and state.
The council meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the current City Hall, 7302 NE Loop 820, North Richland Hills. The motto issue is near the end of a long agenda. Information: www.ci.north-richland-hills.tx.us
The new, 180,000-square-foot City Hall will be the centerpiece of a 79-acre site that had been the home of the North Hills Mall. City Hall is expected to be a catalyst for the addition of shops, restaurants, a hotel, entertainment venues and up to 300 apartments.