Respect and compromise are essential to democracy. Now four members of the Pierce County Council approved an idea that says, “ We have no respect for anyone who does not believe as we do.”
Voting to place a plaque of “In God We Trust” on the council chamber’s wall is an in-your-face promotion of four council members’ religious views.
Nonetheless, the four ideological members may have overstepped their authority. It appears their action conflicts with the Washington State Constitution (Art. 1, Sec. 11). The Religious Freedom section says “ No public money or property shall be appropriated for or applied to any religious worship, exercise or instruction, or the support of any religious establishment…”
Council debate made clear that “religious” was the primary component of the phrase “In God We Trust.” Whatever else the phrase may be, it is a religious statement.
The framers of our state Constitution knew what freedom of religion meant in the U.S. Constitution; they were just more wordy and practical in stating it. They appear to have banned using public money or property — walls, for instance — on anything religious.