NM City Receives Complaint From Secular Group Over 'In God We Trust Display'

A city in New Mexico that recently added a display at its city hall with the phrase "In God We Trust" has received a letter from a major Wisconsin-based atheist organization protesting the decision.

Alamogordo Mayor Susie Galea recently received a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation of Madison regarding their display that has the United States' national motto.

Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the FFRF, sent the letter over Alamogordo's display at the City Commissioners' chambers and the city logo, which could also include the motto. "It is inappropriate for the city commission to adopt a proposal that would place 'In God We Trust' at City Hall … Statements about a god have no place in government buildings," wrote Gaylor.

Gaylor also wrote that government officials should never use government buildings "as a vehicle for promoting their religious views."

In January, the Alamogordo City Commission voted to approve a display of the national motto "In God We Trust" at their chambers and considered altering the city logo to include the motto as well.

The resolution to do so was sponsored by Mayor Galea and was approved after considerable debate among residents and the commissioners.

The sign itself was donated by a group of private citizens and an organization known as the Ministerial Alliance. According to its Facebook group description, the Ministerial Alliance for the Alamogordo area seeks to "promote Christian fellowship, exchange viewpoints and information, offer spiritual guidance, and build unity among people in the Tularosa Basin."

It came a year after Artesia, another city in New Mexico which lies about 110 miles from Alamogordo, approved a similar display for their government buildings.

In an interview with local media, Galea explained that the sign was not a violation of church and state but rather a legal display of the national motto.

"The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the motto 'In God We Trust' is a patriotic political statement as it relates to the U.S. Constitution … The motto is permitted in government buildings," said Galea.

"In God We Trust" became the official motto of the United States of America in 1956, which was a couple years after the phrase "under God" was inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance.

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