Johnston County leaders have agreed to display the motto In God We Trust inside the Johnston County Courthouse in Smithfield. The decision was unanimous.
A group called the US Motto Action Committee recently approached county commissioners asking them to place the national motto on the government building. Rick Lanier, the co-founder and vice chairman of the committee served as a county commissioner in Davidson County in Lexington, NC from 1998 to 2002.
In 2002, he led his board of commissioners to vote yes to displaying In God We Trust on the exterior of the government center building.
In God We Trust has been displayed on US currency since 1864. The slogan is also engraved about the entrance to the US Senate Chamber as well as above the Speaker’s Seat in the US House of Representatives.
In 1956, during the Dwight Eisenhower administration, the US Congress adopted In God We Trust as the official Motto of the United States of America. Displaying the motto is a legal right, protected by the first amendment.
Lanier said since Davidson County installed the motto 15 years ago there hasn’t been any legal challenges raised. “This effort is legal and there is nothing to challenge,” Lanier wrote in a letter to Johnston County Commissioners prior to their vote on Dec. 4th. “Elected officials like you are showing a commitment to the values that our country was founded upon.”
In 2011, the US House voted 396-to-9 to reaffirm In God We Trust as our nation’s motto. According to Lanier, 87 percent of all Americans still support the display of our national motto.
County Manager Rick Hester tells WTSB News the motto will likely be installed in the original section of the Johnston County Courthouse by the end of December. The cost of the display will be funded by the US Motto Action Committee and will not cost Johnston County taxpayers any funds.
Johnston County will become the 87th public location in North Carolina that has agreed to display the motto after being asked to do so by the non-profit organization. The Angier Town Board in Harnett County approved installing the motto in September 2016 and the Wallace Town Board in Duplin County approved its installation in January 2015.