Irvine Council Adopts ‘In God We Trust’ for Council Chambers

Irvine Council Majority
Print More

The Irvine City Council Tuesday night decided to emblazon “In God We Trust” and “e pluribus unum” – Latin for “out of many, one” — in the council’s meeting chambers, a nod to national mottos championing both faith and the country’s multicultural identity.

The agenda only called for a vote on “In God We Trust,” but Councilwoman Lynn Schott proposed having both mottos after several public speakers said installing such a phrase would alienate residents who are atheists or have a faith that isn’t God-centric.

The vote was 4-1, with Councilwoman Beth Krom, the council’s only Democrat, voting no.

The decision puts Irvine in line with many Orange County cities that already have the motto displayed in their council chambers, and represents another step the Republican council majority has taken to make City Hall more conservative — both in policy and now aesthetic — after years of a majority Democratic city council.

Other public speakers and members of the Republican council majority, including Mayor Steven Choi, who first proposed having the motto, said it was an important reminder to the city’s children about the principles of faith held by the country’s founding fathers.

“It’s simply honoring our national motto and our national trend, so we can come under the respect of our heritage,” said Choi, who is known to be a deeply religious Christian.

Others disagreed. Krom said that, while courts have ruled it constitutional, it makes people who don’t share faith in God uncomfortable. And a city like Irvine, which is home to faiths and cultures of various stripes, should strive for more welcoming messages.

“I would like to know what public interest will be served by doing this other than jumping on a bandwagon I don’t think we should be jumping on,” Krom said.

It’s unclear where exactly the mottos are going to be displayed in the council chambers, or if they’re going to be placed together or separately. City staff will be working with Choi and Schott on the design and bringing it back to council for approval at a future meeting.

Please contact Adam Elmahrek directly at aelmahrek@voiceofoc.org and follow him on Twitter: @adamelmahrek

  • Kevin

    You are completely wrong. It does not apply to everyone. It does not apply to me. I would be extremely uncomfortable being in that chambers with that motto on the wall.
    Religion has no place in government. Period. Shame on Choi!

    • Ltpar

      Kevin, unless you are a resident of Irvine, I can see no reason for you to be in the Council Chambers. Frankly, you are in a very small minority if you are a resident. If you want to disadvow God, that is your privilege, but don’t try to force your belief on the rest of us. In my opinion if God were included in more places and his Commandments followed, we would have far less trouble in our country.

      • Kevin

        Surely you realize that by promoting one particular religion in Council Chambers that you are the one that is forcing n your religion upon others not the other way around! And some find it offensive that you think we should all have God in our lives. Give it a rest.

        • Ltpar

          Kevin, sorry to pop your athiest bubble. There is but one God in the universe and altough worshiped in many ways by many different people and religions, in him we trust. No one is forcing anything on anyone, except you few who believe in nothing. You give it a rest because the Irvine City Council has done the right thing and I am proud of them for it.

  • Roger Butow

    ltpar:
    I guess you’re saying that the Irvine City Council is wiser than Thomas Jefferson?
    As for non-believers simply ignoring the failure to acknowledge the wall of separation between church and state, how can that be accomplished when on the very wall behind the Council those words will be prominently displayed?
    Personal attendees & visitors to the Chambers, + those watching on TV will have no choice. And this is in part about choice, being forced to constantly view that affront to Jefferson’s words of wisdom.

    And you keep harping on the fact that non-Irvine residents should just mind their own business, what happens in Irvine stays in Irvine.

    Please cite one other city in OC that duped all of the rest of the levels of governance (County & municipalities) into handing over the keys to such a billion $ cash cow, basically a license to steal?

    My city, Laguna Beach, paid over $9 million out of our own coffers to create a beautiful bluff-top park at the Montage Resort & Spa (near Aliso Creek County Beach) in 2000. It’s open to the public, anyone can go there, it and the $250 million Resort were finished as proposed and on deadline.

    We didn’t sucker other collaborative cities or the County, nor sought state/federal grant subsidies. You, sir, act as if might makes right. Whomever has control has the right to unilaterally dictate the course and endgame—In this case Irvine. That you neither see no issues, hear none is reminiscent of the “Hear, See & Speak No Evil” chimps.

    In our case, those of us who supported you, we were CHUMPS. Irvine grifted us, now guess who gets ALL of the $$$ and who doesn’t get a world class park open to all?

    I’ve said it before & it bears repeating: We who don’t live there have every right to be upset, we were promised an idyllic Rolls-Royce with great facilities for/open to all and Irvine can’t even deliver a Pinto.

    • Paul Lucas

      Im insulted as a Christian by the motto. It should not be used in our municipal chambers. Its divisive and selective. All things opposite of what the Freedom of Religion should be which also includes freedom FROM religion.

  • Kathleen Tahilramani

    This is nonsense, waste of time and money. And I do find it to be offensive to agnostics. Some of the biggest frauds and greedy cheats I know pin on the US flag, recite the pledge, attend church and pray in public.The “display” does not impress.

    • Ltpar

      Believe what you want but don’t try and force your beliefs on the rest of us. Granted there are many pseudo Sunday Christians out there but the majority of us still believe, “In God We Trust.”

      • Kathleen Tahilramani

        Why so defensive?. It’s my opinion as an Irvine resident. Council Chambers are a place to conduct community business. And your comment that :majority rules is just absurd – if that is your best argument that is really illogical. And, there are many non-believers who have very high moral and ethical standards. It is you who are forcing your beliefs on people, not me. Believe as you wish just don’t plaster it outside your place of faith.

        • Ltpar

          Kathleen, I have nothing to be defensive about. My belief is strictly spiritual and I am not part of any organized religon. That said my acknowledgement of God and place of faith is the universe which he created and in which we live. As the Muslims like to say, with which I agree, “God is Great.” I do not question you, or anyone’s moral standards or beliefs and will leave the judging to God. By expressing our nation’s motto, “In God We Trust,” our elected officials force nothing on you.

  • Roger Butow

    This is nothing more than falsely cloaking phony patriotism in the drapery of Judeo-Christian ideals.

    Thomas Jefferson, in his famous “wall of separation between church and state” letter/speech should be read and re-read…..Obviously a bogus body like the Irvine Council either never read it or choose to ignore the gospel of our Founding Fathers. As if Irvine is a smarter and more PC entity.
    Here’s the linkage, read the brief historical overview and Jefferson’s own words:
    http://www.usconstitution.net/jeffwall.html

    • OCservant_Leader

      Next they will get to work on another Reagan statue. (they learn this crap at the County GOP training). They can take selfys and post on their city owned newsletters.

      We need a law to stop elected officials from wasting our time and money on this self-serving nonsense.

      • Roger Butow

        I think part of the reason they did this was that it costs them little if anything….considering how much money they’ve pocketed, syphoned off from the Great Pork, maybe those words will be in 24 carat gold or perhaps precious gems?

        • Ltpar

          I believe you are confusing the Old City Council with the New one?

      • Paul Lucas

        You better stay away from Todd Spitzer then.

    • Ltpar

      There are many points to the argument for or against the motto of “In God We Trust.” Mine is, the phrase does not single out or promote any religion and may be accepted by any group who believes in a higher deity. From my perspective, I see no church and state issues here. I also believe the courts have clarified that, as well? As far as those who believe in “No God” they are in the minority and why should their narrow view be imposed on the rest of us? The motto forces them to do nothing except to ignore it.

      Roger, if you have been monitoring the activities of the new Council majority over the two years since they took office, you will notice there has been no distraction, smoke & mirrors or propaganda which the Larry Agran Administration was famous for. Many of the specific issues on which the Council ran have been met and others are works in progress. Bottom line is, they are doing what they said they would do. For elected officials, that is a rarity.

      While I cannot speak for the Council, I am pleased to see them return God to our City, while others are turning their face from him. Semper Fidelis.

      • Kathleen Tahilramani

        So people who do not believe in God have a “narrow view”? How is a belief in God not a “narrow view”? Please do explain.

        • Ltpar

          A narrow view means that which is not in keeping with the mainstream thought on any given topic area. Hope that clears it up for you. If the shoe fits, wear it, if not hope it is not too uncomfortable. .

          • Kathleen Tahilramani

            Just as I suspected, a fool that believes that the mainstream rules. Keep up that narrow perspective and soon you will be barefoot.

          • Ltpar

            Madam, I am confident that in the end when we both look God in the face, I will be happy to have made the journey barefoot. Will you be able to say the same?

          • Kathleen Tahilramani

            Yes, with confidence. Don;t get me wrong I am not being disrespectful of your belief. I’m simply saying that to state that the mainstream or majority view is correct has been proven throughout history to be a dangerous assumption.
            I don’t plan on looking anyone or anything in the eye when I’m dead. I’ll take care of that prior to my demise.Not saying there is or is not a God – I just don’t know and honestly don’t care.

      • Paul Lucas

        Thats total BS Patrick. The Motto in God We Trust wasn’t part of our lexicon until the mid 1950s when it was instituted after a furor started by Joe MCarthy. It is divisive to be placed in our municipal chambers. Using Semper Fuidelis is even further a slap in the face of freedom that is so cherished by our Marines who fight and die and bleed for FREEDOM of and FREEDOM FROM religion.

  • Roger Butow

    Yes, “out of many, one”: One huge mess, one greedy, scandalous city that took the rest of OC (the many) on an unconscionable, unforgivable hayride to nowhere, The Great Pork.
    And yes, maybe prayer will work to keep ALL of them, the Councils these past 10 years, city and Great Pork staff, etc., from future criminal indictments and/or civil lawsuits.
    By bolting the doors and circling the wagons, the closed session internal investigations/audits will probably have their intended consequences: A few hand slaps, some high fives, and ZERO jail time or punitive/compensatory damages out of Irvine’s puffy pockets. Tsk Tsk. All will end up in sealed documents we never get access to—at least not until the players are all retired.
    Pockets stuffed by LENNAR & FRIENDS, facilitated by the former CEO, Bay area carpetbagger Mike Ellzey. Who should change his name to EASY, because he showed Irvine the easy way to scam OC voters and fiscal supporters.
    In South OC we were all so happy that a prolonged struggle (ETERPA anti civilian airport conversion forces) prevailed that we took a few years off to exhale, and by the time we started re-engaging, Irvine had already blown tens of millions of $$$.
    The Council has changed but what about complicit staff? How much incompetence has to be shown to be convinced?
    Irvine selfishly created their own fiefdom with the GP, their own development toy.
    Agran & Krom weren’t the only ones manipulating the system or gaming us. So let them all get down on their knees, pray that the knock at their doors are friends, family or neighbors—and not a criminal court subpoena.

    This present united front struggles to control the propaganda, APPEAR dutiful and bound for better times. Like Lady McBeth, how will they wash out the deeply embedded stain of distrust, by throwing some words on a wall? Typical PR, political spin cycle tactics.

    Agran might end up a sacrificial lamb, but who in their right natural mind believes he sank this ship on his own? He brought in Ellzey but the present Council kept him around. They EASED him out the door by first transitioning him to city staff—-was that a way to ensure confidentiality, avoid disclosure as an employee?
    They may trust in God in Irvine, but OC no longer trusts Irvine.

    • Ltpar

      Seems to be a lot of people standing in line to buy homes in the City that no one trusts. Perhaps you should work on cleaning up your own City before worrying about mine?

      Frankly, I will celebrate happily the day indictments are issued, that is if if the United States Attorney gets off the dime and does his job. No man or group of people should ever be above the law.

      On Mr. Ellzey and his Deputy. I believe both had contracts and they were not renewed and both are now gone. The new Council cleaned up the mess as expediently as they could and downsized most of the Great park staff out the door. The Council did the Audit as promised and if criminal indictments don’t result from the results, someone in the Justice System is not doing their job.

  • OCservant_Leader

    Newcomers to the land are bound to repeat history. I believe the churches played a large role in bringing new convert-Christians to OC who worship the Bible and Greed equally.

  • Smeagel4T

    Alas, the poor Founders had to fight a war to free themselves from a theocratic monarchy, and now we have people trying to ruin their efforts.

    Calvinists in the northern colonies passing laws against any religion except Calvinism, including the death penalty. Anglicans in the south colonies passing laws against any religion except Anglicanism. The poor Quakers who welcomed everyone trying to survive trapped between the two in the middle colonies.

    Finally the Founders reach a peace accord between intolerant rival religious groups who are each trying to dominate the other and establish separation of church and state so everyone can leave at peace with each other. Today we have the self-righteous undermining the efforts of our Founders by slowly trying to re-impose their own religion upon people of different beliefs.

    • David Zenger

      Unfortunately the moralists among us choose to imprint their own religiosity onto a tradition that is almost wholly silent on the subject of God, let alone religion beliefs.

      The Declaration of Independence (written by Jefferson, a suspected agnostic) describes “Nature’s God,” a “Creator” and “divine Providence” three abstractions that could mean just about anything to anybody.

      Naturally, the other great founding document, The Constitution says nothing about God at all; the First Amendment says the government won’t establish a religion. The Founders were more afraid of formal religion than promoters of it. It was associated with the theory of the Divine Right of Kings – a tradition that really did have Biblical roots.

      There is not a single reference in Holy Writ that would give anybody a clue about how to establish a representative democracy. None. Zilch. Zero. Those traditions came from Classical history and Anglo-Saxon government and jurisprudence.

      So next time one of these cretins start babbling about how the US was founded on the principles of Judaeo/Christian beliefs, send them away with the Bible and ask then to come back with specific citations.

      • Smeagel4T

        Agree, but slight (technical) correction. Assuming by “God” you’re willing to accept a reference to “religion”, the Constitution (main body) does have an implied reference to God by stating that religion may not be used as a basis for holding office. So therefore the only reference to religion/God in the main body of the Constitution is one which places a restriction upon the influence of religion in the government.

        And of course you’re very right about Jefferson. And the Quakers (which were represented amidst the Founders) have always been advocates of “all inclusiveness”, which precludes attempting to use their religion to club people of other beliefs over the head. While the northern Calvinists and the southern Anglicans viewed Baptists and Jews as heretics to be oppressed under their laws, the Quakers openly welcomed both groups (and others) into the Quaker colonies.