On Wednesday night, atheist activist Sally Hunt spoke at a meeting of the Board of Aldermen in Wentzville, Missouri to criticize the “In God We Trust” sign they have in giant letters in their meeting room. (See if you can spot them in the image below.)
She explained the history of the phrase. She told them why it excluded the non-religious people in the community. And she also pointed out that she’s heard these complaints from several people in the area but that they were fearful of speaking out in public — that’s why she was doing it on their behalf.
Mayor Nick Guccione responded by essentially dismissing her criticism because she was the only person they had ever heard speaking out against the phrase… even though she had just explained why others weren’t giving speeches against it.
She tried re-explaining everything, but Guccione told her that her time was up and she needed to sit down before he called for her removal. (Update: Guccione said her five minutes were up after she had only spoken for 4:35. You can see that in the video.) Hunt eventually went back to her seat after realizing he wasn’t listening.
And then he asked the cops to remove her from the room.
Hunt wrote on Facebook:
As I was sitting down, the mayor asked the cops to have me removed. I did not cause a disturbance. I said my piece and sat down. He wants to paint this as though he had no choice but to have me forcibly removed by the cops. That’s a lie.
She’s right, and we have the video to prove it. I have no idea why she was kicked out when she spoke her mind in the allotted time — and only went over because the Mayor responded in an argumentative way, clearly misunderstanding her comments.
The Original Motto Project, a group that wants to see the national motto return to “E Pluribus Unum” or “We the People,” issued a statement offering to raise the necessary money to replace the current signage.
The Original Motto Project, a non-profit dedicated to replacing the current motto, has offered to raise the funds necessary to have the new signage installed with the existing sign. They suggest that having a more inclusive and historically accurate motto on the dais would be a better representation of all the citizens of Wentzville.
As for kicking Hunt out of the chambers, church/state separation groups are looking into the matter. In the meantime, since Guccione doesn’t seem to think anyone else has a problem with the phrase “In God We Trust,” you can email him and let him know (politely) why that phrase doesn’t represent you. I’m sure he can’t wait to hear from everyone.
By the way, in case you missed it, watch the last minute of that YouTube video at the top of this post. After Hunt was kicked out of the room, another citizen spoke in defense of the “In God We Trust” sign (which is her right). But she also claimed that Hunt acted like someone who wanted to “rule over other citizens who want to live with religious freedom.” That’s a lie. Religious neutrality is not an attack on religious freedom. It’s the sort of mindset held by people who suffer Christian Persecution Complex and see any effort to keep religion out of government as a personal attack on their faith. That same woman then got extra time to complete the rest of her statement. Because, you know, she’s special.