Debate Over City Council's Use of "In God We Trust" in Bakersfield, CA

March 18, 2002

Source: Los Angeles Times

On March 18, 2002, the Los Angeles Times reported that "the City Council of church-filled Bakersfield [CA] decided to place the national motto... 'In God We Trust' the walls of City Hall... 'We are doing something great tonight,' the councilwoman who suggested the posting said when it was overwhelmingly approved a few weeks ago... More remarkable has been the public debate that accompanied her proposal, the letters to the local paper condemning it and the fact that it was not supported by the mayor... The dissension reflects the changing nature of a town that is deeply rooted in oil, agriculture and the Bible Belt--but now also has a Hindu temple and a mosque. It mirrors as well some national uncertainty over how and where to draw the line between church and state... Sue Benham was the only council member to vote against the motto placement... The motto, she said, 'represents a mainstream Christian viewpoint. And because it does, it's inappropriate to place on a civic building. I felt there was a downside, excluding good citizens in our community.'"