The city council unanimously approved on Thursday a plan to place the motto “In God We Trust” on city vehicles such as police cruisers and ambulances.
While Thursday’s motion was limited to the placement of the motto on emergency vehicles, the council also discussed the possibility of displaying the familiar words in other areas such as the city council chambers.
The plan was envisioned by Councilman Joel Castro, who said a councilman of another Texas city informed during a meeting of the Texas Municipal League that many cities across the state now display the motto on city vehicles and in city facilities.
Castro said that 50 cities across Texas display “In God We Trust” in their city council chambers.
“In Alvin — I know in Alvin — we’re very lucky to still be a faith-based community and we’re all men of faith and I looked into it and it’s — the constitution allows us to, and there were several school board rooms and city council chambers in Texas, like it says here, there are 50, and I think it would be something nice we would have here,” Castro said of adding the phrase to the council chambers. He suggested the words be centrally placed on the dam in front of the mayor’s chair but insisted he wasn’t an interior decorator.
The only question Castro had about placing the words in the council chambers was whether it would be an issue because the room also serves as the city’s municipal courtroom. City Attorney Suzanne Hanneman said she is aware of multiple courtrooms across the state displaying the phrase, but has yet to discover under what explicit authority it is permitted. Hanneman said she would continue researching the matter.
The trend of displaying “In God We Trust” on police vehicles in Texas began in 2015. Several cities and counties in Texas have already had the motto on law enforcement vehicles for years, including San Juan, Childress, Callaway County and Polk County. In response to the emerging presence of the motto, and criticism from the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a legal opinion Nov. 4, 2015, stating his belief that a court would not find the display unconstitutional.
The motto can currently be seen not only across Texas, but in other cities and counties across the country. There are 136 cities and counties in California that display the motto in their council chambers. Just three days before the Alvin City Council approved the plan, the city council of Delano, California, voted in favor of placing the words on its city’s police vehicles. Thursday’s vote makes Alvin the newest city in the state and the country to adopt usage of the phrase.