‘In God We Trust’ Signs Making Their Way Through Missouri… April 2, 2011

‘In God We Trust’ Signs Making Their Way Through Missouri…

Dee Wampler is one of those Christian lawyers who thinks separation of church and state is a myth. And, like many Christians who love their revisionist history, he seems to have a lot of influence.

Wampler is currently on a mission to have the phrase “IN GOD WE TRUST” posted in every City Hall in the state of Missouri.

He recently sent the following letter to one city mayor (and possibly several others):

This is that sample resolution (you know, just to help nudge it along):

So far, just like he mentioned in the letter, Wampler’s been on a roll.

In Taney County, the vote was unanimous in favor of the motto:

The three member Taney County Commission voted unanimously Monday, March 28 to prominently display the motto, “In God we trust” at the Taney County Courthouse and judicial center.

Taney County officials have yet to state where they intend to place the motto and the cost of initiating the measure.

In the city of Buffalo, the vote was also unanimous:

Joining a movement that Mayor Jerry Hardesty said is sweeping the nation, the Buffalo Board of Aldermen Monday night voted unanimously to put “In God We Trust” logos on the outside and inside of the City Hall building and on other items such as letterhead.

Dee Wampler, an attorney in Springfield, has been spearheading the movement in southwest Missouri, and he sent Hardesty a packet of material and also made a presentation at Monday’s meeting. City attorney Travis Elliott also gave his approval, Hardesty said.

It was unanimously approved in Jasper County, too:

A Springfield attorney’s request to post “In God We Trust” at the Jasper County Courthouse and the Joplin Courts Building has been approved by county commissioners.

John Bartosh, presiding county commissioner, said the request was embraced by the commission “because we thought it was a good idea.

“We should have done it before, without anybody asking us,” he said.

Bartosh noted the commission did discuss the request with legal counsel, adding: “He didn’t see a problem, and we wanted to do it.”

Danny Ferguson is an atheist who happens to be a member of the Adrian, MO city council. The mayor of the city, Larry Ritter, plans to raise the issue of the IGWT phrasing at the next city council meeting on April 11th.

At least in Adrian, the vote won’t be unanimous.

Danny writes in an email:

I have notified the mayor and city attorney that I intend to vote against this. I also contacted the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Even if they can’t do anything about it, I want people to be aware of what is happening…

… I could just quietly vote against it and not draw attention to it. On the other hand, this is an opportunity for me to have both my vote and a public statement in favor of church/state separation entered into the permanent public record of my city. Depending on how prominent the display is, it could be an annoyance and discouragement that I face at every meeting…

It could also be very costly, depending on how large the display is and how much the city is going to have to pay when the lawsuits start to roll in.

This is why it’s so important to have voices of reason in local governments. The IGWT signs (in all their incarnations) won’t change how the governments are run, but they symbolize the notion that atheists are not welcome in those cities. The fact that they’re unconstitutional is obvious, but even if they weren’t, there’s no good reason to promote that message. There are several churches in Missouri where you can say that phrase all you want. The government is supposed to be for all the citizens, not just the religious ones.

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  • Kevin

    Not the first such effort from Mr. Wampler.

    “POKIN AROUND: Lawmakers at work: What day is Christmas in Missouri?”


    From the article:

    What brought this discrepancy between “holiday” and “Christmas Day” to light?

    “I have an attorney who is in Springfield, Mo., Dee Wampler,” Denison said. Wampler is a constituent, a criminal defense attorney and a Christian speaker who wrote the book “Myth of Separation Between Church and State.”

    Said Denison, “He has been after me and every other legislator in the Springfield area to make this change.

    “He sent me a letter asking me, ‘Where is your guts? Why don’t you do this?'”

  • Anna

    I expect many cities in Missouri will totally go for this. I live here and it is crawling with christian conservatives. I find it ironic that conservatives hate to spend public money UNLESS it is to promote christian bullshit.

  • @Anna,

    “I find it ironic that conservatives hate to spend public money UNLESS it is to promote christian bullshit.”

    I think the word we are looking for is hypocrisy. They’ll willingly squander millions in taxpayer dollars if it’s done to promote religion directly or indirectly by suppressing others who don’t subscribe to their bullshit.

  • Anita

    The problem is, it’s the state motto.

  • Anita

    I’m sorry, NATIONAL motto.

  • bilsemon

    This is what we get for being OK w/”In God we Trust” as the national motto. If we don’t like it, we’ll have to lump it, until we get enough votes to change it – which may take decades.

  • Allen

    Same thing is happening in Arkansas, Bella Vista,AR just passed that exact resolution (wording and all) a few weeks ago.

  • Ben

    This is actually probably good news. The more it becomes obvious that this is a divisive phrase, the more likely it is the supreme court will knock it down (someday).

  • Nele

    Completely off-topic here, but I need a place to put it:

    From a German perspective I am wondering very much, why there seems to be no reaction from the “usual” atheist blogs on the shooting of many UN workers in Mazar-i-Sharif in Afghanistan. The murder was instigated by the burning of a Quran by some evangelical idiot in the US. On this side of the Atlantic, the inicident is all over the media.

    Seems to be a telling example what happens, when morons choose to defend their “religion”. I am talking about both sides here…

  • @Ben,

    I’ll give you credit for your positive viewpoint.

    My stomach turns with every effort of religious interference that gains ground in our nation.

  • jonezart

    Can we get up a campaign to bring back “e pluribus unum”?

  • @Nele

    I left a comment at http://www.atheistrev.com/2011/04/your-april-fools-day-reminder.html#IDComment139215558

    Maybe the story wasn’t picked up here immediately because it was a Friday eve. when the action was being reported.

    The unified voicing of our outrage towards such uncivilized behavior is coming.

    My sympathies to those families affected by this tragedy.

  • Luther

    Whereas “In God We Trust” became the United States national motto on July 30, 1956 shortly after we imprisoned U.S. citizens during World War II and the considering the subsequent Salem Witch Trials Senate Witch Hunt championed by Senator Joseph McCarthy…

    that same insipid slogan has been used on U.S. Currency, which Christians call the “Root of all evil, since 1864”, so fitting with our recent affirmation of corporate tax-free citizenship…

    , we are now in a state of constant Crusade war, as we prepare to eliminate unions, we propose the more fitting motto, “In God We Thrust”.

  • TheBlackCat

    Depending on how prominent the display is, it could be an annoyance and discouragement that I face at every meeting…

    Isn’t that the whole point, though? I think this sort of argument would only encourage them.

  • cut.throat.jane

    A friend of mine back home went to the city hall of Branson to try to talk them out of it and they pretty much laughed in his face. This is also around the same area where a local grocery store posted that they had donated almost $2000 to a few of the local churches but the school district I went to my entire life was only given $800 to share between 5 schools.

  • jolly

    I can’t figure out why the Supreme Court says that U.S. citizens have no standing on this issue. I am not a lawyer but it seems to be negatively affecting all atheist citizens.

  • Rich Wilson

    In God 89.3% Of Us Trust

  • If the Supreme Court is not going to do anything about this wrt the money, how would a suit to stop this be any more successful?

  • Rich Wilson

    Thinking about this more, we atheists are factual proof that the statement is wrong. Even if you come from a position that there is unquestionably a god, not everyone trusts that god. I don’t.

    Isn’t having a clearly incorrect statement as our motto a form of newspeak?

  • Steve

    I really have to take issue with “shortly after our nation led the world through the trauma of World War II”, the guy is a moron anyway but I’m not tarring all Americans with the same brush. In case he’s forgetting, Britain and the Commonwealth stood alone till the Nazis invaded the USSR in June 1941, then it was another 6 months until the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour bringing a very reluctant America into the war. Hopefully, his campaign will falter, as it should do, church and state are two very different things. I didn’t mean to slight American volunteers by the way.

  • Vanessa

    I don’t know my history. Has “In God We Trust” really been on our money since 1864?

  • Rich Wilson

    @Vanessa, it was first used on US coins (2 cent piece) in 1864. It wasn’t until 1938 that all coins had it, and 1956 that it became law that it be added to all paper currency. It wasn’t until 1966 that it actually was added to all paper denominations.

  • Dan W

    Great. This sort of shit (and that it’s unconstitutional) is why I want “In God We Trust” done away with as the national motto. Maybe then we could make the old unofficial motto, E Pluribus Unum, our national motto again. Plus, these signs would be a big waste of money that cities could spend on much better things.

  • This doesn’t surprise me at all. I live in Springfield, MO, and I’ve grown used to hearing the kind of remarks that make me think we’re a step away from witch trials.

  • Vanessa

    Thanks Rich

  • Jim [the other Jim]

    Some American Muslims should ask for “Allahu Akbar” to be place in public buildings and just watch the reaction.

  • Lee

    I think Ben’s statement may be truer than you think. I don’t think the SC will do anything unless religion can be deemed pervasive in our government. Then and only then will it come down to “all or none”. So even though this is extremely nauseating I think they might be hanging themselves with their own rope. I hope so.

  • Reading this article caused me to think of an idea. I decided to cross out god and write in ‘ourselves’ on all paper money I can. I just did it to the cash in my wallet. My money now says ‘in ourselves we trust’. If enough people start doing this somebody is bound to notice, sooner or later, and we will probably see articles about it. At least it is another way to let them know we don’t all agree with it. Use as many methods as you can.

  • Oli

    WHEREAS, the city desires to display this patriotic motto in the Council Chambers as a way to sodomize solemnize public occasions and express confidence in our society

  • E Pluribus UNUM is still on our money. It was the unofficial U.S. motto until I.G.W.T was sanctioned by the government in 1956.

  • Peter Mahoney

    Makes me want to get a red permanent marker onto every bit of paper money, putting a circle/slash around/across the word God.

    We also need atheists with pizza parlors, strip clubs, arcades, etc., (any place that handles LOTS of currency) to do this with all their bills. Just a minute or two per day could start a tide of anti-god currency.

  • Andrew

    How backward ” to trust in god”. I’ll keep on stamping all my dollarbills with “science”. Atheists best tool is making religious types doubt in their own “convictions” .Stamping IS harmless and makes people think.I applaud this effort to inspire critical thinking without harming anyone !

  • J

    I’m in Marshfield, MO. Just happened here, too. Can’t spit in this town (pop. 5000) without hitting some kind of church. Wampler and Springfield are only 20 miles away…along with the world headquarters of the Assembly of God Church and their local mega James River Assy (also known as Six Flags Over Jesus).

  • Brian

    No atheist, Hindu, Buddhist, animist, shintoist, etc., can receive a fair trial in a building with “In God We Trust” posted, and we should make that argument EVERY time we’re in such a place–parking ticket or murder.

  • Andrew Viceroy

    Don’t worry, Mr. Wampler’s motivation is clearly only for “ceremonial” and “cultural” reasons… I’m sure there’s absolutely no sectarian religious appropriation of representation whatsoever. Nothing to see here.

  • Pseudonym

    This has nothing to do with anything, but I happen to like the state motto of Missouri. It’s “Salus populi suprema lex esto”, which roughly translates “let the good of the people be the supreme law”.

  • Christophe Thill

    The words “In God we trust” are written on banknotes, right ? Si wouldn’t it be simpler to post an enlarged picture of a dollar bill ?

  • Rob

    @Peter Mahoney, there’s something like that which had been started a few years back. Called the Free Money Movement, it seems to have slow but persistent acceleration. It’s worth a looksee: http://freethoughtpedia.com/wiki/Free_Money_Movement

  • tango george

    I live by springfield and Wampler has been milking those dumb christians forever.He has money falling out his ass and laughing all the way to the bank.Its a dam shame that this is the type of mental case that always seem to get into office somewhere.Problem is you can not get rid of them with truth and facts.Like I heard a pastor on TV once tell the people to have lots of kids so there is always more of them than us to say in god we trust.What a motto.Its like saying in nothing we trust

  • Patty Tweedle

    As the Organizer of the Branson, Missouri Freethinkers, I’m proud to mention that two of our members were at the Taney Co. meeting when it was approved. HOWEVER upon hearing two opposing views (something that never happens) everyone gave them their full attention and heard for the first time in Branson’s history, I’m sure…that there are “other than christians” in this town.
    ~Patty Tweedle

  • William

    One of the things I find most offensive is the associating conservativism with christianity, Anna! As an FFRF member and a registered Republican, we don’t all believe in god and I personally take offense to that. Over 80% of all adults believe in a god which means there must be liberal democrats that are believers as well.

  • Mriana

    I live in SW MO and I’m deeply disappointed by all of this. Again, it makes me want out of this area.

  • We had the vote and it passed 3-1 as I expected. Here’s a transcript of that part of the meeting: http://goo.gl/VXnkE

  • CS aka HappyCat

    I am a long-time resident of St. Louis (but born and raised in scary-as-hell-if-you-are-gay NW Arkansas). Even in the “big city” you have the hard-core conservative Catholics and African-American Evangelical Churches. Just a drive out of the city and over the next hill you reach the United Evangelical States of Angry Jesus and a whole lot of willful ignorance.
    That said, none of this surprises me. I have pretty much given up on this part of the country and the U.S in general because of the pandering to the bigots and the ignorant by the powers that be. Excuse me while I down another Xanax.

  • tam

    I just cracking up over the “six flags over Jesus” depiction of James River A of G. Pretty fitting description! They even have a Starbucks in that place–which I believe is a sin in itself (Jesus turning over the seller’s tables near the temple). I’m with some of you though–I’m about ready to head towards more intelligent pastures although, that’s exactly what they want us to do right?

  • oneNonBeliever

    I photoshopped an image of a dollar and edited the “God” portion. See it here:

    In God We Trust dollar picture


  • Lori

    I agree with many of you. If you are not Chrisitan, you will never receive a fair trial in this country. In fact, you might even be called a “terrorist” because of your religious or non-religious beliefs. How very sad especially when this country was founded on freedom of religion.

  • Lori

    OneNonBeliever, I think you should propose your revised edition of our US currency to Congress. 🙂

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