“In God we Trust” is making a come back in more than one City Council Meeting

It looks like there is another push for the phrase “In God We Trust” but this time it’s in Huntington Beach.  Gila wrote about the previous attempt by Westminster to have the phrase to be on display at the School District since the City Hall had already added the phrase behind the council dais.  It was not approved by the City council but it’s obvious that this is a “trend” and I question where the push for the phrase is come from.  It was just last year that the Bakersfield School district approved the display of the phrase for every classroom in the district. 

So the latest City to consider this is Huntington Beach.  There is going to be a a City Council meeting to night and this issue is on their agenda.  The question to ask, is this a partisan issue?  The organization behind the push called In God We Trust Inc. and they’ve made it their mission “To Promote Patriotism By Encouraging Elected City Officials To Display Our National Motto “In God We Trust” In Every City Hall In America.”

In God We Trust Inc. calls itself a 501C3 and an “Education Corporation” but there is a political motivation even if the organization would like you to think otherwise.  The secretary of In God We Trust Inc is Mark Abernathy, who is with Western Pacific Research, Inc., so?  Well, just go to Western Pacific Research’s website and you will see that they have their own “mission”.

Founded in 1985 by Mark Abernathy, Western Pacific Research, Inc. is dedicated to electing Republicans to Federal, State and local areas of government. WPR is involved with multiple organizations effectively promoting the beliefs of the Republican Party. 

WPR believes in reaching a broad base of people through its work with groups such as the Kern County Republican Party and the Kern County Central Committee. WPR also believes that youth and diversity are crucial elements to the future of the Republican Party, which is why WPR is proud of its association with the Kern County Young Republicans and the Kern County Hispanic Congress of Republicans.

Have you read enough yet?  Do you want to stop this?  Read the message from Richard Gillock behind the fold and learn what you can do about it. Even if you don’t live in Hungtington Beach, I think it’s important for everyone to be heard.

Another attack on the Separation of Church and State is unfolding in the Huntington Beach City Council Chambers on Monday April 7th.

A conservative evangelical Christian group has started a program to post “In God We Trust” in every city council chamber in the country.  Dozens of cities, mostly in rural California counties, have spent city treasure to mount elaborate displays of “In God We Trust” in their council chambers.  Now this program has spread to Orange County, and is being introduced by HB Council Members Cathy Green and Joe Carchio.

An agenda item (H1a) for the April 7th City Council Meeting addresses the endorsement of the phrase “In God We Trust” and its prominent display within the City Council Chambers.  Such a public statement does not contribute to either public policy or the effectiveness of governance in the city. 

Those of you who can, especially residents of Huntington Beach or who have family connections there, please attend the Monday April 7th at 6:00 pm City Council Meeting:

HB City Council

200 Main St.

Huntington Beach, CA 92648

Agenda: http://www.ci.huntington-beach.ca.us/Government/agendas/council_agendas.cfm

f you cannot attend, send an e-mail to each of the City Council Members:

Mayor Debbie Cook: dcook@surfcity-hb.org

Mayor Pro Tem Keith Bohr:  kbohr@surfcity-hb.org

Council Member Joe Carchio:  jcarchio@surfcity-hb.org

Council Member Cathy Green:  cgreen@surfcity-hb.org

Council Member Don Hansen:  dhansen@surfcity-hb.org

Council Member Jill Hardy:  jhardy@surfcity-hb.org

Council Member Gil Coerper:  GCoerper@surfcity-hb.org

For more information about these council members go to:  http://www.ci.huntington-beach.ca.us/government/elected_officials/city_council/council_bios/

This is part of an orchestrated program by the conservative evangelical Christian community.  While a numerically small constituency, it is very vocal, and demands ultimate religious conformity.  Evangelical Christians have fought, and lost, to place the Ten Commandments in prominent government places.  Their goal is to intimidate those who do not share their narrow beliefs.

The First Amendment to our Constitution begins “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”  Clearly in the early 1950s, the Cold War Congress broke this national foundation of personal liberty by injecting “God” into our Pledge of Allegiance, our National Motto, and our currency, while introducing a National Day of Prayer.  This was believed to be an answer to “Godless Communism.”  Each of these things seems innocuous, unless you consider that Congress has no right to question the patriotism of Americans based upon their religious beliefs.  Access to our government should not be conditional upon sharing a Judeo-Christian faith.

Please consider carefully what secular purpose the introduction of “In God We Trust” serves the community.  What message of openness and access to city government does it send?  Does it contribute to community unity or does it divide us?  Is it necessary?

Remember, our original National Motto is “E Pluibus Unum,” From Many, One!

Thank you for your grass roots support for Separation of Church and State.

Rich Gillock”

Heather Pritchard

I'm new to political blogging but have been writing most of my life about different things. I campaigned for President Clinton when he was just Governor Clinton in Orange County. I graduated from Smith College with a BA in English and a minor in Film. I work full time, have a lovely four year old daughter named Charlotte, my husband teaches full time at Cerritos College in Norwalk in the Music Department. Gary has a Ph.D in Ethnomusicology from UCI. I hope to go back to school in some form or another, maybe sociology or economics. I've even thought of Law school. Our newest edition to the household is our Weimaraner Sophie. 

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  33 comments for ““In God we Trust” is making a come back in more than one City Council Meeting

  1. April 7, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    I’ll toot my own horn here – the Liberal Atheist Vegetarian blog at the Register (http://www.ocregister.com/lav) has been covering all the cities this has been happening in as it happens (between Westminster and Huntington you had Cypress, Mission Viejo and San Clemente all approve, and Tustin consider). Expect to see it hit most of the rest of the county this year.

  2. April 7, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Toot away! I think this is such an important issue though that it can’t be overcovered!

  3. April 7, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    Thanks – we do too. The LAV has a category for all the stories related to this – “In God We Trust“, for easy searching.

    It’s interesting to note that every city that has voted on this issue also has religious invocations before every council meeting, and there are another 20 or so cities in OC that also do invocations, so with the recent push, we might be an “In God We Trust” county in no time…

  4. April 7, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Well, there is an opening prayer in the House of Representatives before every session is convened. It is also the case with the Senate. It’s not unusual but I do wonder what posting “In God we Trust” has to do with proving our patriotism.

    http://chaplain.house.gov/index.html

  5. Northcountystorm
    April 7, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    Newsflash folks: The Huntington Beach City Council won’t give a hoot about your toot if you don’t live in Huntington Beach. But if it makes you feel better, more power to you.

    Heather, Mr. Gillock’s hyperbole and historical liberties aside, why in heaven’s name(or its secular equivilant) would you want to ensure the defeat of Mayor Cook by urging her to turn against the national motto which was supported by 90% of the American public in a 2003 Gallup poll? Is there some polling data you haven’t shared with us that demonstrates that the 46th C.D. somehow thinks we ought to give God and/or the motto a pink slip?

    And if you, Gillick and others are bent on destroying whatever chance Cook has for victory in November, why stop with the motto in Huntington Beach? Give Cook a 4 point platform which will:

    1) Remove God from the Pledge of Allegience

    2)Remove In God We Trust from all of our currency.

    3) Eliminate In God We Trust as our national motto.

    4) Airbrush out God from important national documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg address

    If you’re sucessful in putting Mayor Cook in a position where she votes against the motto then whatever blip in support she got from the ill fated misadventure by Mike Schroeder will be more then washed away.

    There’s a reason why Republicans like to put forward some of these mom and apple pie issues in election years: some liberal Democrats just can’t help themselves, forget the focus on the economy, take the bait and start teeing off on American traditions. And then the GOP closes with public.

  6. April 7, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    Yay! NCS has finally seen the light.
    I heartily agree with points #1, 2, and 3. #4 – not so sure.
    And while we’re at it – bring back the ORIGINAL motto – E Pluribus Unum!
    I also think we should ban religious invocations at taxpayer-funded public meetings and government-sponsored events like “Mayor Prayer Breakfasts”
    I hope NCS wasn’t just being facetious, though I think he was. I’m not.
    Ever heard of “Tyranny of the Majority”?

  7. April 7, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    NCS – I agree with you, it is a carrot on a stick and it gets us going in another direction. I’m more concerned with the effectiveness of my city’s ability to govern. But I feel this effectiveness should have nothing to do with what is displayed in the City Hall or in our School Districs, is it their values that demonstrate care for the constitution and for our rights as citizens?

    Republicans are hell bent on keeping this phrase but don’t seem very concerned about the protections that are guaranteed by our Constitution, such as habeas corpus and the freedom of Religion.

    I get that it’s a distraction just as a frivilous lawsuit suit is, but I trust Debbie Cook to be able to handle this in the best way possible, that’s why I support her, I think she’s capable and I think you underestimate not only her ability but the voters in her district.

  8. April 7, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    Cypress aside, there haven’t been any “no” votes in the other cities that have already approved the motto – just abstentions. Cook could go that route if she wanted to, and not have to worry either way.

    Unfortunately, this is one of those topics that’s easy to vote for, if you’re a city councilperson – makes you look good and ‘merican to the folks who vote the most, doesn’t cost the city much money (I’m sure community groups will happily “donate” the materials or labor if asked, even), and doesn’t have any negative side effects except from a bunch of pinko liberals talking about it, and doing nothing.

  9. jose s.
    April 7, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    i must admit northcountydork* makes a good point. somewhere in my record collection i have the dead kennedy’s “in god we trust inc.” on vinyl!

  10. Northcountystorm
    April 7, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Publius—If you like those ideas so much, maybe you can persuade some candidates to put them on their campaign materials. Or maybe you can start getting councils and school boards to follow your ideological lead. Go for it.

    Heather- I don’t underestimate Cook at all. I’m assuming she’s smart, will thank you for your comment and then vote in favor of the motto, perhaps after making some move to minimize the issue. I just couldn’t understand why you’d counsel her to jump off a political cliff, unless your point is to make her appear able to deflect the secular wing of her Party. If that was your intent and she shows her independence then please accept my apology. If not then my comment stands.

    Underestimate the voters of her district? I take it that means you don’t know of any polling data in the district which differs from the national 90% approval rating of the motto(you know, Publius’ fanciful tyranny of the majority, otherwise known as democracy). But I do know that Dana has won 9 elections in this district and I don’t think I’m underestimating anything.

    Finally, please spare me the shots at the GOP. I agree that their support of some constitutional provisions is honored more in the breach than the observance(but although more supportive of the Constitution, Democrats don’t have clean hands either). However, I don’t accept this as a religious issue in the legal sense so your just building up a straw woman here. And I am not going to bite.

  11. April 7, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    NCS – The thing is, we’ve posted about issues like this, it’s not something new to the LOC. I was writing to the issue and yes, I take offense to the idea that I would counsel Debbie Cook to do anything but what she thinks is right. I don’t see anywhere here that I “counsel” her on how to address the issue. I just said I had faith in her ability to handle it any way she sees fit.

  12. Northcountystorm
    April 7, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    You are encouraging people to contact her to urge her to vote against this. “Do you want to stop this?” You drop a bunch(or perhaps only a couple)of angry people on her doorstep –did you expect a thank you from her if she votes for the motto? Amazing.

  13. April 7, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    I think Heather was trying to encourage people to make their opinions known. We know the IGWT supporters are trying to flood the council with their views. And make it seem like 90% of constituents agree (I have yet to find any poll that shows that result). Mayor Cook and others need to hear from people who disagree.
    Perhaps if the council sees that the community is divided on this issue they will decide not to take action on it.
    So I applaud Rich G., Michael D, and Heather for getting the word out.

  14. Dan Chmielewski
    April 7, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    How about Debbie does the right thing and votes as she sees fit to? Are we really going to let wedge issues get in the way here.

  15. Northcountystorm
    April 7, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    Pub—I gave you the cite of the poll—2003 Gallup poll. It’s not that difficult to check out. You may also find informative a 2004 Gallup poll that showed similar support for another of your bugaboos—keeping “under God” in the Pledge.

    Dan–Debbie can of course vote any way she wants. My point is that if she votes against this, or doesn’t attempt to try to come up with some compromise, she’s pretty much locked in a loss. This race had the potential of at least being close if not being the upset of the year in the Golden State. If she votes no there’s no reason to view her race any differently than Steve Young’s or Bill Hendrick’s race. However if she does vote “no” than I suspect her campaign flak will be all over Act Blue and Move On.org to portray herself as a victim of the religious right and deserving of the big blog bucks. With that she will then have money to hire the people who advised her to vote no on the motto matter. And another opportunity for the Dems squandered….

  16. April 8, 2008 at 10:30 am

    NCS – Irony being, you’ve kicked up much more dirt than in my original post. Ultimately, the phrase is merely that, a phrase. We can either continue to let Republicans with a religious agenda push people around or we can say that it has no place in our public buildings. God is not a phrase and as someone who is a Christrian, I find it disturbing to have God brought down to just a four letter phrase. It has nothing to do with Patriotism or Christianity, it has to do with an agenda that is not based in what is best for our Government.

    I would not ask that such things be removed from such things as our money, etc. And as for the Pledge, Under God was added in the 50’s, it’s not in the original pledge. Yes?

  17. Northcountystorm
    April 8, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Oh please, don’t try to transfer responsibility for encouraging people to contact Cook and other councilmembers to vote no. You lay an egg and it will hatch. In fairness to you perhaps her political death wish preceded your post and the unknown number of people who responded to it.

    Try to realize that your religious arguments maybe truly felt by you but aren’t the point. As our federal court of appeals has noted, the mottos use “is of patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no resemblance to a governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise.” You find it disturbing to have God brought down to a four letter(I think you meant word) phrase, some people find it disturbing that God is brought down to a three letter word. So what? Whether you are disturbed or no, God has been part and parcel of our history and gets incorporated into speeches, Declarations, money, pledges and , yes, mottos.

    As for the Pledge, under God was added by Congress in the 50’s, eight years after the Congress officially recognized the Pledge. So what? The words under God were plucked out of the Gettysburg Address, almost a century earlier. The original pledge from 1892 didn’t have “of the United States of America,” and those words were added in later years. So what?

    Here’s a suggestion–quit whining about Republicans pushing people around . Both political parties will take advantage of a situation where a) they like the policy they are advocating and b) it puts their opponents in a position of having to oppose something that the public overwhelmingly supports. Politics I A. I suspect the reason why you and others get so worked up about this is you realize you’re out of sync with the general public and therefore wish the motto, the pledge, and just about everything that mentions God ,except money(they always are ok with God on greebacks)would just go away.

    It won’t go away. So rather than whine, look to city councils and boards that maybe will take a fresh view. Get them to place the E Pluribus unum motto in their council chambers. Or get them to place both mottos. Seize the initiative. Years ago Democrats seemed to be afraid of the American flag. They semed more concerned with flag burners than flag wavers and were beat up big time about it. They got over the protect the flag burner phase and started to make the American flag a major part of political rallies. Their fortunes improved with a big portion of the American working class who had been suspicious of the 1970’s and 80’s era Democrats values.

    Or continue to whine and get beat up and watch your candidates walk the plank.

  18. HB citizen
    April 8, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    Oh brother, NCS. You really think this hurts Debbie Cook? The knuckledraggers who support this won’t be voting for her anyway for a variety of other issues.

    You sound like one of those people who’ve been a Democrat in Orange County so long all you can do is throw out your pessimistic worldview.

    Go cry in your beer somewhere else. I suggest Ohara’s Pub.

  19. April 8, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    Well, I don’t quite know who is whining here. And yes, I meant phrase.

    And I don’t feel that I’m out of step with the general public, I think Republicans would like to think that Democrats have no clue about what the public wants and as a Democrat, I’m confused as to why you insist on making arguments for Republicans.

    This is how Republicans have done so well by telling people they care about their values and what they want, when it really has nothing to do with “values”. I find when I talk to republicans about the issues that we agree more often than not and that this Republican/Democrat divide is purely about keeping certain people in power.

    The reason for encouraging people to speak out if they find the situation troublesome is so that people like you can stop saying that no one cares and that because the majority of people support it, it means that the minority should shut up. It’s their right to express their displeasure with the use of the Phrase as a political wedge in an election year. I think the fact that so many Dems continue to roll over to the whims of Republicans hurts our party in Orange County. Regardless of the fact that it’s a majority of Republicans, Democrats have every right to make themselves heard.

  20. Northcountystorm
    April 8, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Who died and made you Queen of the Democratic Party? What mountaintop are you claiming to speak for the Democratic rank and file ? You just join the Democratic Party and all of a sudden you’re the ideological gatekeeper to determine who rolls over and who does not?
    I know this probably comes as a shock to you but there are a lot of Democrats who don’t agree with you on this subject. We’re not rolling over at all. I’m not making arguments for Republicans, only Americans. You say ” I find when I talk to republicans about the issues that we agree more often than not.” Well, that’s what I find here. Most people of both parties who are not activists support the motto and this is consistent with the polling. The fact that the Republicans have used the motto, the flag, the pledge, the military, the Lincoln Bedroom, etc as a wedge issue doesn’t mean Democrats have to reject these things.

    Everybody has a right to be heard. Sometimes though , when you’re about to give a candidate advice which is political suicide, it might be a good time to shut up. If you’re feeling guilty about having a little of Debbie Cook’s political blood on your hands don’t blame me.

  21. April 8, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    Well, that was kind of my point, that no one should say what the ultimate choice is for any one Democrat. This is just a blog and to say that my posting about this and that I gave Mayor Cook any advice on how to handle the situation is beyond silly. We are talking about an adults here? Right? I was not attempting to speak for all Dems, just for this fomerly closeted Dem who has capitulated because of the arguments you give.

    My whole point was, Mayor Cook can handle it any way she sees fit, that’s what being a leader is, putting forth a difference of opinion even if it may not be the most politcally expedient thing to do.

    For those Democrats who embrace the motto and want to see it in their City Hall, more power to them, speak up! But to say that all Dems should tow the line because if they don’t they’ll only hurt their candidates, then I think it’s you who is being rather shrill.

    Just because I have been registered DTS for a few years doesn’t take away the fact that I’ve voted Democrat since I was able to vote. I’m very tired of hearing that us whipsnappers don’t know any better and we should slink away with our tails between our legs, for how dare we question anyone.

  22. April 8, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    My gosh, what a boring conversation. Heather, if someone like this North County Windbag came and commented on one of my posts, I would ignore, not encourage him.

    BTW I was looking for any Liberal OC folks last night, didn’t see any. You mentioned you’re from HB, Heather? Were you there? I spoke.

    I guess if blogophiles want to know what happened last night they’ll need to go to the Orange Juice (Sarah’s slightly skewed post is up, mine will be up later this afternoon.) Meanwhile I’ll be there to help you fight, whatever other towns this BS comes to!

  23. April 8, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    Vern – I grew up in HB but I now live in Aliso Viejo, so I was not present, although I did think about it!

    I realize that not all Democrats are going to agree on this issue, it’s not a sure win for either party but at the same time, I don’t see the problem with encouraging people to speak out when they don’t approve of something, it’s the basis of our Democracy.

  24. Northcountystorm
    April 8, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Vern–I hate to break this to you but after sampling a few paragraphs I have no interest in either reading or commenting on your multi-part War and Peace rant on the motto(and you call me windbag–LOL). Don’t worry, I won’t bother you and I doubt many others will either.

    Heather–Look, I agree with your statement about no one should say what the ultimate choice is for any one Democrat. And you don’t seem to be someone who would slink away with your tail between your legs even if I wanted you to do that. You were being a blogger expressing your point of view and I should have respected that. I was trying to hold you to a different standard—a blogger who might think twice about encouraging people to urge Cook to vote no and, ergo, put Cook in political harms way. Nothing says you have to do that, it requires much discipline especially when one feels strongly about the issue. I don’t think all Democrats need to “toe the line” but I do think that Democrats in Red areas need to pick their fights, not get goaded into them.

  25. April 8, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    “I don’t think all Democrats need to “toe the line” but I do think that Democrats in Red areas need to pick their fights, not get goaded into them.”

    I must agree wholeheartedly with NCS on that point. This whole issue was raised as a wedge issue to get Debbie Cook on the record against it. Dana will now use it to bludgeon her. Mission accomplished by the right.

    In the past I would have wanted Debbie to stand her ground and fight. I now realize that the war must be fought strategically and only take the fights that will help win the war.

  26. April 8, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    NCS- I do understand your point and I think it’s completely valid but at the same time, I also believe that running from such fights will not make them go away. I also believe it’s important to know when to pick your battles and maybe for Mayor Cook, this was a battle she wanted to fight.

    I think I have more issue with a group calling itself non-partisan and yet having members on it who are clearly Republican partisans. So it’s more complicated to me than just the phrase “In God we Trust”.

  27. April 8, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    Heather, my report on last night’s HB meeting is up now, and it links to your article, so I won’t complain if you link to me in the future!

    http://www.theorangejuice.com/2008/04/jill-and-debbie-shine-in-hb-god.html – pretty entertaining if I say so myself

    NCS! You made it back from O’Hara’s Pub?

  28. Dan Chmielewski
    April 8, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    I just wonder what part of “In God We Trust” applies to Dana Rohrabacher? This is a guy who told war protesters testifying before a congressional subcommittee that he hoped “their families are the next ones” hit in a terrorist attack. So much for “Love thy Neighbor” Dana…

    If the right wants to make this a wedge issue, let’s turn it around on them and ask “What would Dana Do?” Because his votes and positions would hardly be in line with what a “Good Christian” would support.

  29. April 9, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    Northcountystorm,

    For the record, Vern’s posts at the Orange Juice are amongst our top posts right now and are getting tons of hits. Take a look at our numbers on Sitemeter. We are right there with Liberal OC on hits and way past you folks on page views. A lot of that is due to Vern’s stellar commenting.

    If we are not going to stand for what we believe in we may as well not believe in anything.

  30. Dan Chmielewski
    April 9, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    Art. With all due respect, if you are posting only to get hits and not writing about things you believe in, than items being posted aren’t worth reading.

  31. April 9, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    Dan,

    Of course that is what it is all about for Pedroza and the folks at the OJ.

    They post inflammatory, and in many cases untrue, things solely to get hits on their site.

    Why do you think he added SMS? It couldn’t be for the quality writing.

  32. Northcountystorm
    April 10, 2008 at 11:03 am

    Art—it’s good to hear that Vern’s posts are getting some hits. They actually might make some good filler spaced between your re-elect Janet posts.

  33. just...asking?
    April 10, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    I agree with NCS that letting others set the battleground weakens ones position. But even with this issue Debbie could have hid and abstained, instead she stood her ground and made some great comments on the divisive issue. Debbie even offered a viable alternative solution that respected all but the hardest positions.

    I have to also agree with NCS on Vern and SMS. I gave up on SMS’s rants a few weeks ago. As for Vern, I like him and many of his positions, just find it difficult to enjoy reading his posts.

    I used to visit and enjoy the Juice several times a day, now unless another site references a significant post I just don’t get it.

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