Following a decision early this month to incorporate the current U.S. Motto, “In God We Trust,” into a new sign for it’s town hall, the town of Walnut Cove has been asked to consider also using the original U.S. Motto, “E Pluribus Unum” in some official capacity.
Robert Ray, with The Original Motto Project, emailed Town Manger Bobby Miller the request last week.
“We would like to make our dissent known and offer an alternative. First, however, let us introduce ourselves. We are The Original Motto Project, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the prominent display of the Latin motto E Pluribus Unum (From Many, One) as one that represents the truly inclusive nature of American society,” wrote Ray. “Our message is one of inclusiveness: it takes all points of view, and sometimes the quarrels between those competing viewpoints, to make America the richly pluralistic society that it is. In God We Trust, though it is currently enshrined by law as the official motto of the United States, is inherently divisive. Not only does it exclude a significant minority – i.e. the nonreligious – but it also excludes those religions that believe in multiple gods, as well as those that believe in none (like Buddhists).”
When the Walnut Cove Board of Commissioners approved using the motto on a new town hall sign, the commissioner who made the motion, Charles Mitchell, clarified the motion with a statement honoring God.
“We should celebrate God in any way we can,” he said. “In order for any nation or anything to function we have to trust in God.”
In the request to consider also using the original motto, Ray argues that “In God We Trust” could be used as an overt endorsement of Christian belief, not just as a statement of patriotism.
“It is an unfortunate fact that many government agents and agencies who display the motto believe it to be an overt endorsement of Christian belief,” writes Ray. “When used in such a context, In God We Trust violates the most sacred of American principles: the separation of church and state.”
He said the original motto has no such complications and asked the town to consider displaying it in an equally important place.
“E Pluribus Unum, we believe, is a motto that encapsulates the variety of experience and belief in this great country,” wrote Ray. “It first appeared on the proposal for the seal of the United States in 1776, where it represented the union of colonies, who, despite deeply rooted differences amongst themselves, united to throw off the shackles of oppressive and arbitrary governance. The seal prominently displaying E Pluribus Unum, was approved by congress in 1782. While you may still choose, of course, to display the motto In God We Trust, we here at The Original Motto Project humbly ask that you consider a compromise that can satisfy both viewpoints on this issue: mount E Pluribus Unum (or its English equivalent) in an equally prominent and honorable place alongside In God We Trust.”
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.