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“In God We Trust?”

Pierce County Councilman Jim McCune wants to make Pierce County the first in Washington State to put the words "In God we trust" on the wall of its council chambers.

McCune's proposal comes as a California group is working to get the national motto displayed in government buildings across the country. McCune has proposed a resolution supporting the permanent display of the motto in a "prominent location" in County Council chambers.

Supporters call it celebrating the national motto, and promoting patriotism. Opponents say that there are other more important priorities to be dealt with at this time, and that posting "In God we trust" is exclusionary to atheists and others who don't believe in one "God" with a capital G.

The County Council is discussing the issue in committee meetings today, and it will go to a vote at Tuesday's County Council meeting. Read more and submit your comments on the County website. Read more from The News Tribune.

McCune's resolution calls the proposed display "a way to solemnize public occasions and express confidence in our society," and calls the motto "in both war and peace, these words have been a profound source of strength and guidance to many generations of Americans."

Would you support the proposal?

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Brad Tankersley

I do not support it, I wrote my objections to the online comments at the proposal’s website:

Written in opposition to the Pierce County Council Resolution R2014-80

Hello Sirs and Madams,

I oppose this proposed resolution on a few grounds.
First, the ultimate authority of law in the United States is our Constitution and Bill of Rights. The erecting of a display quoting a national motto detracts from that ultimate authority.
Second, by sponsoring this resolution Councilmember Jim McCune is acting against the language of SCOTUS in Walz v. Tax Commission “...a benevolent neutrality which will permit religious exercise to exist without sponsorship…”
Third, Pierce County is a diverse secular community that no single motto could describe. The Pierce County motto should not imply segregation. Does “In god we trust” represent the Buddhist community? No. Does the motto represent the Non-religious? No. The motto only represents those who believe that a deity is the ultimate authority over the decision making processes of the Pierce County Council. Thus it only represents a single segment of the Pierce County community.
Last, The City of Tacoma has already establish a motto “When sails meet rails” and while this may not cover the entirety of Pierce County it is unreasonable to establish another motto. I suggest that the Pierce County Council move to adopt a County motto that is all encompassing and secular in wording. One that does not imply segregation, that is original and represents spirit of our community.

I thank you for your time reading this and I hope that you will consider my points against this resolution.

Brad Tankersley

July 28, 2014 at 11:06 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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The Constitution and Bill of Rights is not a self-existent, unchanging, good that illuminates the world and provides a point of reference by which other things may be understood.

Plato is rolling over in his grave.

July 28, 2014 at 12:02 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Brad Tankersley

Please! Religion and the belief in deities have changed countless times over the centuries to adapt to changes in society.  If you think the most recent manifestation of god, within the minds of its followers, hasn’t changed in even the last 25 years you don’t know much about religion. Religion and the belief of deities is in constant flux.  As for “good” that is yet another idea that changes with society. At the onset of our nation it was “good” to own slaves and treat wives as second class citizens yet it is not good to do that now. The definition of good changed to fit society’s needs. Buddhism provides a reference by which other things may be understood and it doesn’t require a deity to exist. So does science and history and neither of those require a deity to exist. The Bill of Rights and The Constitution do change to fit the needs of the people. Change and adaptation are needed to make a more perfect union.

Only a christian deals in absolutes.

July 28, 2014 at 4:15 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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“Only a christian deals in absolutes.”—Brad Tankersley

Is that true? Are all mathematicians Christians?

July 28, 2014 at 7:53 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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The Constitution and Bill of Rights is not a self-existent, unchanging, good that illuminates the world and provides a point of reference by which other things may be understood.

Neither does “God.”

August 13, 2014 at 10:48 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Stacy Emerson

As for who is, or isn’t doing the work they were elected to do, and instead spending time on the issue of displaying the “In God We Trust” motto on the Council Chambers walls—while being paid $110,000 a year plus mega benefits:

Note the year each Councilmember was elected (E), taking into account they were not seated (S) until the follow January:

McDonald (R) - 2008E/2009S & 2012E/2013S (currently serving her 2nd & final term,  while running for Congress)
Flemming (R) - 2010E/2011S
Roach (R) - 2010E/2011S
Talbert (D) - 2010E/2011S
McCune (R) - 2012E/2013S
Richardson (R) - 2012E/2013S
Ladenburg (D) - 2012E/2013S

PRE-McDonald, McCune, Richardson, Flemming, Roach, Talbert, Ladenburg

2004-05 - 571 finalized proposals and archive documents found.
2005-06 - 556 finalized proposals and archive documents found.
2006-07 - 559 finalized proposals and archive documents found.
2007-08 - 576 finalized proposals and archive documents found.

PRE-McCune, Richardson, Flemming, Roach, Talbert, Ladenburg

2008-09 - 548 finalized proposals and archive documents found.
2009-10 - 519 finalized proposals and archive documents found.

PRE-McCune, Richardson, Ladenburg

2010-11 - 510 finalized proposals and archive documents found.
2011-12 - 458 finalized proposals and archive documents found.

The CURRENT Council (note, Ladenburg and Talbert’s hands are tied by the Super Majority R Council, so they are not to blame)

2012-13 - 444 finalized proposals and archive documents found.
2013-14 - 351 finalized proposals and archive documents found.
2014-current - 127 finalized proposals and archive documents found.

July 28, 2014 at 4:58 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Stacy Emerson

For those who can attend tomorrow’s full-council meeting, the Pierce County Council meets Tuesdays at 3pm on the 100th floor of the County-City building; 930 Tacoma Ave. S. room 1045, Tacoma.

For those who cannot attend the full council meeting tomorrow, you can submit comments to them via the Contact Council form here - http://www.co.pierce.wa.us/FormCenter/County-Council-19/Pierce-County-CouncilContact-Us-212 - be sure to reference Resolution No. R2014-80.

Forewarning - CM McCune tends to tally up the number of comments submitted by people outside of the district(s) and discard them (and criticize them), so the more comments from Pierce County, Washington constituents, the better.

July 28, 2014 at 5:00 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Stacy Emerson

This is the comment Margi Nowak sent to the Council, and gave me permission to repost broadly:


The national “In God We Trust” organization may sound innocuous or even appealing to many people, but here is why it worries me deeply.

Looking at their website (http://www.ingodwetrustusa.org) one finds such sentiments as these:

“While the Obama Administration continues its quest to drive anything even remotely reli­gious out of American public life, In God We Trust is continuing its national survey campaign designed both [to] collect information and educate huge numbers of Americans on the danger Barack Obama poses to the First Amendment….”

“America has always been special country. Founded by people of faith, the United States has always been one nation under God….Today, however, the bonds that have unified our nation are under attack by a small but vocal, organized and well-funded group of anti-religious activists.”

Jacquie Sullivan, the Bakersfield, California woman who is the founder and president of In God We Trust (as well as a city council member), got the idea of promoting the In God We Trust movement from a Christian radio station.

You don’t have to be an “atheist” to worry about the message of this campaign. It’s certainly not about inclusiveness, or shared humanity, or even a true understanding of American history. Native Americans do not conceptualize their spirituality in terms of the word “God”. Neither do Buddhists, or Hindus, or even some Jews. And the writers of our great national charters, like Thomas Jefferson, wrote many passages such as this one: “Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting “Jesus Christ,” so that it would read “A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.” See more such quotes here: http://www.nobeliefs.com/jefferson.htm

Please reject this proposal. It’s not “pro-God” so much as it’s a partisan scare tactic.


July 28, 2014 at 7:03 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Sam Muilvey

If you’re interested, we’re going to be presenting an open letter to the county at tomorrow’s meeting.  I would suggest writing directly to your councilmember as well, as they have been making a big deal about not hearing from locals.


July 28, 2014 at 7:41 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Amazing But True! Secular Humanism is a religion.

July 28, 2014 at 7:55 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Incredible that you are all up in arms over this, yet you continue to let our city council destroy this city with the poor decisions they make that ACTUALLY have an effect on the people that live here.  This is utter nonsense and all of you should be petitioning for so many other things that can help our city.  Who gives a rats butt about this when you have crack heads and heroin addicts shooting up in our neighborhoods and meth heads pimping young girls in our alleyways.    Where is your help in these matters, it is so much easier and cowardly to pursue the things that are simple, rather than tackle the REAL issues that plague this city.  Truly pathetic.

July 28, 2014 at 8:48 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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“...tackle the REAL issues that plague this city.”—Sid

The realm of opinion by which most people define reality and make judgments and decide actions is a REAL issue, and a worthy target of philosophical inquiry.

The central issue of this debate is the nature of authority.

Let’s consider the testimony posted so far by the secular humanists—a political faction that is opposed to God and hostile to Christianity. No evidence has been put forth that proves the Christian worldview is inadequate, misleading, or harmful.

On the contrary, a self-existent, unchanging, eternal entity violates no logic, no reason, no known scientific law. To not believe in absolutes forces one to become unreasonable, irrational, and unscientific.

But beyond the subjective and emotional hatred and contempt for Christians, the question remains: If one does not trust in God, then what objective, unifying thing can one trust with assured knowledge which will free people from the realm of opinion?

July 28, 2014 at 10:27 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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During the month of August we’ll be picking up weeds, cleaning up graffiti and collecting used needles and disposing of them in accordance with health department guidance.  We will also be picking up after the business owners that use our district as a dumping ground.  I suggest you try it sometime, it might actually give some meaning to the nonsense you just wrote.  In the process, it may actually also make you USEFUL.  Know your audience when you write.

July 29, 2014 at 2:32 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I’ve been commenting on this blog since May, 2008.  I’ve sold cars in Tacoma since 2009. I’ve owned and operated a communications business in Tacoma since 1990. Whether any of that kind of action is useful or not is a relative question. So there are some things that are relative.

Just the same, there are some things that are absolute. For example, an absolute fool.

July 29, 2014 at 5:28 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Or an absolute windbag.

July 29, 2014 at 5:39 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Where is your help in these matters, it is so much easier and cowardly to pursue the things that are simple, rather than tackle the REAL issues that plague this city. Truly pathetic.

Three thoughts:

1. That’s a pretty rash assumption you’re making there. You’re assuming that anyone holding an opinion on this matter is not interested in (or is already) helping with other issues.

2. Shockingly one can have (and express) opinions on more than one issue at a time.

3. If you really believe one can only focus on a single issue, I’m disappointed that you have decided your focus will be to go on the internet and call people in your community pathetic. Why aren’t you focusing your efforts on things that ACTUALLY affect people in this community? Truly pathetic.

August 13, 2014 at 11:03 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Ms. Cascadia

This proposal is needlessly exclusionary. “In God WE trust.” What about Pierce County citizens who do not trust in god? By posting such a plaque, the council is saying to those citizens, “You are not one of us. You are not included in ‘we.’” Why? What is the purpose of casting non-believers (and cynics, for that matter) as outsiders? Councilmembers can easily trust in god without the presence of a plaque, so this lopsided proposal would have the downside of alienating people without providing commensurate upside.

July 29, 2014 at 1:12 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Every time the council votes on something it excludes entire groups of people that are opposed to whatever it is they voted on.  Why is this so different to you that it makes you want to take the time to voice your opinion in writing in this blog compared to other more pressing issues?

July 29, 2014 at 2:50 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Ms. Cascadia

You’ll note that I said “needlessly” exclusionary. If the council is voting on whether to, for example, ban marijuana businesses, then yes, that necessitates picking one side or the other and excluding the losing side. But the issue of whether to post a plaque saying “In God We Trust” is entirely superfluous. It does not address any issue/problem occurring in Pierce County that requires action. Therefore, posting this plaque extracts a cost (excluding people) without resulting in a benefit (taking action on a pressing issue).

July 29, 2014 at 3:23 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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There’s always room for one more to help pick weeds.

July 29, 2014 at 4:31 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Cheryl K.

I spoke at tonight’s council meeting, where the resolution was adopted 4-3. For the life of me, I don’t understand why the council would take up so much valuable time and heap so much controversy upon itself over a non-issue. There is no mandate to put a plaque of any kind in the council chambers, and since the wording is drawing so much debate, why even do it in the first place? Are the bare walls hindering the business of the council in some way? Is the council unable to address some of the more pressing issues facing our community until it resolves whether “we” trust in “God,” and if so, what that means?

It’s hard for me to understand why the council would want to adopt a resolution, which, as I stated in my recorded remarks, is worse than meaningless. It means nothing to God-believers, who do not need an official plaque to validate our beliefs. At the same time, it alienates and offends our friends and neighbors, brothers and sisters, who do not believe in God. There can be no other purpose for such a move. Why would the council deliberately take an action that accomplishes nothing positive while alienating a portion of its constituency?

The whole thing smacks of rank religious pandering, a stunt-like public display. And I do recall one prominent religious leader who roundly denounced public religious stunts, displays, and pandering in the worst terms. “But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments.” (Matthew 23:5, NASB) “And when you pray [honor God], you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets [or put up plaques in council chambers amid great controversy], that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward [in other words, you’re not making any points with God, if that’s what you were trying to do].” (Matthew 6:5, NKJV) “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21, NKJV)

It’s not about what you say. It’s not about your bumper sticker or the plaques you can get put up in public spaces. Public service is supposed to be about serving the public, not antagonizing them. And Christianity (okay, I’ll just go ahead and say it, because that’s what this is really about) is supposed to be about following the One who served everybody, even the Roman centurion who presumably worshiped all the Roman deities, when said centurion’s servant was ill.

The Pierce County Council has, unfortunately, acted in the manner of the Pharisees and hypocrites against whom Jesus so violently railed. They represent the “Gentile” rulers who Jesus said “lord it over” their constituents, rather than serving them. As a Christian, my imagination fails to come up with any possible way that putting up any plaque, especially one so controversial and divisive, serves our community.

July 29, 2014 at 7:27 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Ms. Cascadia

Well said!

July 29, 2014 at 7:31 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I just created my login for this site. I wrote the above. Since I’m on a FB sabbatical (http://99daysoffreedom.com/cheryl-k), please feel free to share my comment with any social network you like.

July 29, 2014 at 7:42 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Ok, this thing is a done deal, moving on, now, can we get the same amount of energy that was put into this to clean up or city.  Start by filling out the survey pertaining to codes, save the poetry for later thackerspeed.

July 30, 2014 at 8:44 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Aside from your commentary and mine on this topic about what is good for the culture, every other commentator claimed that the way things are is the way that things ought to be—the situation as it stands, cultural pluralism with its variations of truth, ought to be sustained and equated with a proper, correct, and viable way to think and act.

That relativistic view, championing unlimited personal preference and cultural differences, sounds all nice and fluffy, but it’s just bad thinking. Tolerance is inconsistent with relativism. One can only tolerate something to a limit. Tolerance has to end somewhere.

July 31, 2014 at 8:15 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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That is why people should fill out the survey and no longer tolerate our city districts being used as garbage cans.

July 31, 2014 at 10:30 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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