California City Threatened by Atheists for “In God We Trust”

Ontario, CA – On June 2, 2010, the Ontario city council voted unanimously to include the national motto, “In God We Trust”, in a semicircle above the city seal in the council chambers of City Hall. The effort to post the national motto was spearheaded by Councilman Alan Wapner, who is Jewish and considers the motto nonsectarian. However, the move did not go undisputed. Annie Laurie Gaylor, atheist and co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, threatened legal action against the council. “This is worth a court battle,” Gaylor stated, “because it has an impact up close and personal. An atheist person can go before the City Council, and that’s staring you in the face.”

The Pacific Justice Institute sent a letter to the Ontario city council offering to represent the city should it come under attack for their decision. PJI has in the past and continues to defend our nation’s religious heritage from attacks by those who wish to erase that history. In the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, PJI has successfully defended “In God We Trust” printed on our national currency from attacks by atheist Michael Newdow in the case Newdow v. Lefevre. In March of this year, the Ninth Circuit unanimously agreed with PJI’s position that the motto is constitutional.

Michael Peffer, chief attorney of PJI’s office in Southern California, who sent the letter to the Ontario city council, stated, “There is overwhelming Supreme Court case law supporting the display of the national motto. ‘In God We Trust’ is an inclusive, nonsectarian motto that people of all faiths and beliefs can rally behind.”

“‘In God We Trust’ is our official national motto and has been on our currency for more than a hundred years,” stated Brad Dacus, president and founder of PJI. “It is preposterous for anyone to legally challenge a city council’s decision to display the national motto. So long as these radical, anti-religious advocates continue to threaten the motto, we will be there to defend our nation’s religious heritage.”