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La Habra will showcase the phrase “In God We Trust” above the city flag in council chambers, joining more than 20 other cities in Orange County that also display the phrase in their city halls.
Editors’ Note: This dispatch is part of the Voice of OC Youth Media program, working with student journalists to cover public policy issues across Orange County. If you would like to submit your own student media project related to Orange County civics or if you have any response to this work, contact Digital Editor Sonya Quick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Council member Tim Shaw requested this addition earlier this year, with Council member Steve Simonian in full support, according to a staff report. The phrase “In God We Trust” has appeared in state flags, American money, and in governmental buildings like the U.S. House of Representatives as the national motto, the report continued.
The City Council in mid-April voted unanimously to approve displaying the phrase in the council chambers.
“Some people may know that I serve on the Orange County Board of Education and in that chamber right behind the dais where the trustees sit they have the national motto ‘In God We Trust,’” Shaw said during the council meeting. “It’s a beautiful addition to that chamber … A lot of cities around here have it.”
About 150 California cities display the phrase somewhere within their council chambers, according to the staff report.
The addition will cost La Habra around $500 to $600 depending on the material used, the report said. Council member Simonian offered to pay for its installation so taxpayers wouldn’t have to. The council agreed and Mayor Rose Espinoza thanked him for his generosity.
“In God We Trust” became the United States’ national motto on July 30, 1956. Since then, it has prompted much discussion on whether it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, which states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…,” explains the city staff report. However, courts have upheld the motto’s constitutionality, deeming it not coercive, and that it does not prefer one religious denomination over another, the report continues.
It is not yet known when the phrase will be installed at City Hall.