ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (AP) — A group representing atheists and agnostics has objected to the city of Alamogordo displaying the words “In God We Trust” at City Hall.
The request went unheeded as the slogan was unveiled last week at a City Commission meeting, the Alamogordo Daily News reported (http://bit.ly/Xr4DnF).
Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, wrote a letter to Mayor Susie Galea urging the city to refrain from posting the words at Alamogordo City Hall.
“Statements about a god have no place in government buildings,” Gaylor wrote, adding that government officials shouldn’t use their positions and government buildings “as a vehicle for promoting their religious views.”
Galea, who sponsored the legislation to add the slogan, said the issue wasn’t religion but rather liberty and freedom.
“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,” Galea said. “The motto is permitted in government buildings.”
Alamogordo is following in the footsteps of Artesia, which added the phrase to its City Hall late last year. The move is part of a larger effort initiated by a California politician in the early 2000s which has seen more than 300 communities make the change.
The issue sparked some controversy when it was being discussed by the City Commission.
Several people who spoke out against the measure gave varying reasons for their views, including the notion that passing it would be against the inclusive spirit of the United States, which is officially a secular nation. Rosemarie Ferrara of Alamogordo said politicians should be basing their decisions on science, not religion.
On the other side, Susan Payne said the notion that people should base their decisions on science and not religion was “insulting to me as a Christian.”
In the end, the commission approved the signage, though two commissioners abstained from voting.