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Florida council nixes godly motto (April 28, 2015)

After protests by local activists and a letter from FFRF, the Venice, Fla., City Council voted 5-2 on April 28 against displaying "In God We Trust" in its chambers.

David Williamson, head of the Central Florida Freethought Community, a chapter of FFRF, spoke at the meeting, as did Marie Glidewell of the Gulf Coast Humanists Association. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported that about 20 supporters of the display also showed up.

"This is not a chamber of the majority, it is a chamber of all," Williamson told the council.

FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor sent the council a letter April 27: "Posting 'In God We Trust' interferes with citizens' rights of conscience and is a misuse of city property for the benefit of a system of religion."

The proposal was just the latest in a series of nearly identical efforts pushed nationally by a California-based group called In God We Trust ~ America Inc. Its aim is to display the phrase "in every city and county chamber in America."

Such campaigns show why the phrase, adopted by Congress in 1956 at the height of the McCarthy era, should not be a national motto because it excludes a large percentage of the population, Gaylor said.