An interview with Jacquie Sullivan, founder of In God We Trust - America, Inc.
Bakersfield has long been considered "the buckle of California's Bible Belt." Back in 2002, Bakerfield became the spearment of a movement to place the national motto "In God We Trust" in California city halls.
Jacquie Sullivan is a city councilmember for the city of Bakersfield, CA, and also founder of In God We Trust, - America, Inc. She received her inspiration to start this movement back in 2001, while listening to a Christian radio station's news report about people on the East Coast protesting the placement of religious symbols on government buidings. That's when it hit her. "You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good," said Sullivan in an interview, quoting Genesis 50:20 of the Bible.
"If they're trying to remove God on the East Coast, I'm going to work to put God up on the West Coast," explained Sullivan in an interview. Her goal is to eventually have every city hall in place "In God We Trust" on their walls.
Sullivan said this mission was a patriotic duty. "It's good for our country ... I decided to take up the challenge."
After all city halls have been taken care of, Sullivan feels the next important step is public schools. Sullivan made reference to an older U.S. flag that also had the words "In God We Trust" on it, and suggested that putting this flag on school administrative buildings would be the next goal for IGWT-A. "It would promote patriotism in our schools," explained Sullivan.
Sullivan said that her group's effort is to "retain our country's identity ... the national motto is a symbol of patriotism, it shows that we are a country whose faith is very important to its citizens."
The national motto "In God We Trust" was adopted in 1956 during the infamous McCarthy Era as a reaction to communism. Many people incorrectly link atheism to communism, and so the decision was made to adopt "In God We Trust" as a national motto and also to place it on coinage. "In God We Trust" replaced "E Pluribus Unum", a Latin phrase meaning, "Out of many, one." On a side note, the phrase "Mind your business" was printed on coins around the time of the framing of the Constitution.
Sullivan also talked a little about IGWT's strategy on how they'll get city halls to place the motto. It's an approach that plays on the ease of passing resolutions at the local level.
First, just one city councilmember has to hear about it and bring it up as an agenda item. Second, because most people in the U.S. believe in God, and because the majority rules, it is almost guaranteed to be passed at the local level. And finally, all it tkaes at the local level is for themajority of city council members to agree. Unlike state or federal assemblies and senates, city councils have fewer people to act as an obstacle. City council range in numbers from five to nine; compare that to numbers in the state assembly, senate or the federal House of Representatives and Senate.
Sullivan didn't have much to say about opposing viewpoints, except that, "Those opposing are the most vocal. There are many more in favor then against ... 85 percent of Americans believe in God."
"The majority rules," Sullivan added, "we've lost ground but this is a nation of believers, it is important for our country to be bold about this issue."
Sullivan finished up with some remarks about the separation of church and state. "The separation is intended to keep the state out of the church; not the church out of the state ... the Constitution gives us freedom of religion, not freedom from religion."
Do you think that "In God We Trust" is appropriate for display on public buildings?