Calif. City Argues Over ‘In God We Trust’

The Lake Forest City Council has voted 3-2 to place the words “In God We Trust” on the walls of its city council chambers, making it the 16th city in Orange County, Calif., to do so.

The decision came after a contentious debate among citizens.

Karla Westfall, secretary for the Orange County Chapter of Americans United, testified before the council.

“I oppose placing the motto,” she said. “It violates the principle of the separation of church and state. If you assert a religious identity, you exceed the scope of your authority. You were not elected to speak on religious matters. You’re defying anyone who doesn’t believe in God to be a part of the ‘We.’”

According to the Orange County Register, 14-year-old resident Mark Muller also stood up in opposition.

“When I look at this, it is offensive to me,” he said. “You want to put this up here? I see ‘In God we Trust,” and I see divisiveness. I see not a council of Lake Forest, I see a council of Christ.”

Still, council members Marcia Rudolph and Kathryn McCullough introduced the issue of putting up the slogan, with newly elected council member Scot Voigts voting with them.

Mayor Peter Herzog and Mayor pro tem Mark Tettemer voted against the idea.

Seventy-five cities and two counties in California have reportedly added the motto, and 163 cities display it nationwide.