The City Council voted 4-1 Monday night to ensure that the motto “In God We Trust” is displayed in a “prominent location” in the new City Hall.
Exactly which location was not decided.
Council members Rita Wright Oujesky and Tim Welch were absent.
Some residents expressed anger that they were not allowed to speak before the vote. Mayor Oscar Trevino said emails and comments about the resolution had been distributed to council members.
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Councilman Tim Barth said he understood that some people believed this was a “slippery slope to a theocracy.” But he voted for the resolution, saying that the Declaration of Independence has at least four references to a supreme being.
“I think it is an acknowledgement of our history from the very beginning and the principles that make this country great,” Barth said.
Councilman Scott Turnage, who voted no, questioned why the council was taking up the action.
“City Hall is intended to be utilized by people of all faiths, even by people who have no faith at all,” Turnage said. “I’m concerned what message this sends to those people or even an employee of the city who may be agnostic or even an atheist.”
City departments are moving into the new, $70 million City Hall off Boulevard 26 in phases this month. The present City Hall will close.
In God We Trust America Inc., a California-based, nonprofit organization, encourages governments nationwide to support the public display of the national motto, founder Jacquie Sullivan said.
She said she discussed the issue with Trevino during a national League of Cities conference.
No other Tarrant County communities are listed on In God We Trust America Inc. website, but 54 other Texas governments are noted.
Some residents were angry both at vote and the decision to not let them speak.
Randy Word said after the vote that some residents are not Christian or have no belief in God, so that the mottos “effectively is a lie.”
“It’s exclusionary, it’s discriminatory,” Word said. He said he wonders if people who disagree with the motto will be treated fairly.
The council meeting began, as it always does, with a prayer.