Spencer to consider adding ‘In God We Trust’ to government cars, buildings

Published 12:05 am Thursday, August 11, 2022

SPENCER — “In God We Trust” is the U.S. motto, signed into law by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956, and currently an organization co-founded by a former Davidson County commissioner is working to get that motto displayed on every government vehicle and building in the state.

Richard Lanier appeared before Spencer’s Board of Aldermen on Tuesday to ask the town to be the next community to join.

“We have currently been successful in 65 counties in the state, including Rowan County,” he told the board as he displayed images of the town hall, indoors and out, emblazoned with the motto, along with police cruisers and public works vehicles.

“We have not had one legal challenge since we started, because it is absolutely legal, absolutely permitted,” he said. “Davidson County has led the way and we are hoping your town will be our next addition.”

Board member Sam Morgan, a Vietnam veteran, said he sent Lanier photos to be edited for the meeting so others could see what the design would look like.

“We renovated a portion of the plaza for the new town hall and police department, and aside from some artwork from high school students, it’s pretty barren,” said Morgan. “I had asked about putting the state seal and the town logo on the walls just to give it some life. This would be part of that.”

The board added the item to the September agenda for discussion, and Morgan said he believes a public hearing will be called.

“I am very much an advocate for people standing up for their rights and beliefs,” he said, “so people need to have a chance to have their say.”

Board member Andrew Howe agreed a public hearing is essential.

“I’m an attorney, so I took some time this weekend to research the constitutionality of this proposal, and Mr. Lanier is right,  legally this is perfectly fine,” said Howe. “And I am personally fine with it. But this is not our building, it belongs to the community, and future residents will have to live with things we do now. We are a town of 3,300 people, and I suspect many of them may feel as I do. I am fine either way. But the town needs to give people the opportunity to speak. And the people need to do so. It is important to have that ‘buy in’ and I, for one, am very eager to hear what people have to say.”

Howe did note that he was not sure exactly where Lanier’s organization has asked the motto be used.

“Is it everywhere, is it only on buildings, on police vehicles, I was not sure he specified, but I would like to know that,” Howe said.

According to information on the organization’s website, “since January 2015 over 80 municipalities have voted “yes” to display “In God We Trust” in and on their government buildings. Over 250 displays have been installed so far in 50 N.C. counties and 37 town halls. In addition to providing these permanent displays on public buildings, some 34 N.C. sheriff departments, 14 police departments, and 20 fire department fleets have installed over 2,700 “In God We Trust” reflective decals on their vehicles. All of this is a result of the efforts by the U.S. Motto Action Committee, which after procuring the approvals by the government bodies, pays for all the cost of these displays.”

It all began when Lanier lead the Davidson County Board of Commissioners to agree to publicly display “In God We Trust’ on the exterior of the Davidson County Governmental Center. Installation was completed Dec. 29, 2002, and Lanier co-founded the U.S. Motto Action Committee the next day.

The work is paid for entirely by private donations, he told the board, and the average cost of installing a display of the motto in a town hall is around $2,500 per location.