Sign in Alamogordo City Hall stirs up controversy

Opponents argue sign is alienating and offensive

Alamogordo city hall sign stirs up controversy


Four words are creating a major ripple in quiet Alamogordo, N.M.

"In God We Trust."

A group representing atheists and agnostics is calling out the city of Alamogordo for a new sign bearing the slogan in city hall.

The sign has only been up for a week, but the controversy is swirling.

Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, said the sign is alienating and offensive.

Alamogordo Mayor Susie Galea told ABC-7 the sign is not meant to be religious.

"I think it's getting controversy because god himself, herself or whoever you prefer to refer to god as, is a religious symbol and really, in our point of view when we passed in god we trust, it's more of a political statement," she said. "It was a national motto reaffirmed by Congress in 2011. This is a national motto, and we stand by it because it is the founding of our Constitution."

Gaylor said the slogan has nothing to do with the founding fathers.

"That is a message of exclusion to people who don't believe in a god, who are 20 percent of the population these days, or to people who don't believe in a monotheistic god. When you have to go to city hall for things like licenses, sidewalk variances or whatever, and then you're confronted with a religious slogan, that does have a chilling effect on you," Gaylor said.

In adopting the motto, the city is following the steps of hundreds of other communities.

The motto is also on U.S. currency -- something Gaylor and her organization also have an issue with.

"The founding fathers chose a secular motto: e pluribus unum. In many come one, which is celebrating the fact that we would have many states united," Gaylor said.

Despite recent controversy, Galea said the city stands by the new motto.

"I do think more communities need to stand up and adopt this motto. I think elected officials need to look at who they were elected by, we the people which was the founding of our Constitution," she said.

Artesia, N.M. added the phrase to its city hall late last year. The state flags of Florida and Georgia also display the phrase.

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