Texas County Officials Put ‘In God We Trust’ Signs in Courtroom

The Upshur County Commissioners Court in Gilmer, Texas just got a new donation: An “In God We Trust” sign. (Several of them, in fact.)

Fire Chief Gaston “Bubba” DeBerry (left) and Pct. 2 Comm. Cole Hefner (via The Gilmer Mirror)

Long-time Ore City Fire Chief Gaston (Bubba) DeBerry and his wife Hughleen donated such signs not only to the Commissioners Court, but to three of the county’s four Justice of the Peace offices, after Pct. 2 Comm. Cole Hefner convinced his fellow commissioners months ago to join some other area governmental entities in posting that message.

“It’s because of God that we get to enjoy the freedoms that we do,” Hefner told The Mirror after Monday’s meeting.

Riiiight… even if you believe that, why put up the sign?

“I guess just to publicly show our faith in Him,” Hefner said.

DeBerry decided he needed to dig the hole he’s already in just a little more…

“I just felt like that was something… we as Christians here in the county… could (use to) show our faith,” the longtime Ore City civic leader said Monday.

I’m sure the atheists, Muslims, Hindus, and all other non-Christians will feel perfectly at ease in those courtrooms…

And, what, were there no other places in the county where Christians could show their faith?

I did a Google Maps search. Turns out there are TONS of churches in the area. Why can’t you hang the signs in some of them instead?

It doesn’t matter if the signs come from a private donation. You can’t put up religious relics like that in a taxpayer-funded courtroom.

FFRF has already been contacted about this.

Since DeBerry and Hefner clearly don’t understand the principle of church/state separation, I can’t wait to see their reactions when they found out.

(Thanks to Michael for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • stop2wonder

    I think the FFRF is going to have a hard time beating this one.  Like it or not, it is our national motto (for the time being), it is our national motto.

    • debbiedoesreality

      A situation that, in my opinion, needs to be argued against and repealed, as soon as possible. I hope I live long enough to see “In God We Trust” removed from our currency. Progress toward these things is at least beginning to happen in my lifetime, a good thing for humanity in general.

      • stop2wonder

        Unfortunately, like challenges to it being on our money and “Under God” in the pledge, the Supreme Court has upheld them under the banner of “ceremonial deism”.  I think this would also qualify.

        • debbiedoesreality

           Yes, unfortunately. But I still hold to hope that one day it will be different.

        • Coyotenose

           It could probably be challenged with a decent shot at success because they’ve already admitted publicly that putting the signs up was not ceremonial, but an expression of faith.

    • Chakolate

       I agree.  I doubt that we’ll ever see it repealed, either.  :-(

  • Gwydion Frost

    I always felt that the state of Texas liked money more than scientific evidence. This only proves it.

    • Edmonton98

      Scientific evidence? For the “theory” of evolution? Sounds like a brilliant statement.

      • Gerard Kerin

         You mean “the theory of evolution”. Because that’s what it is, an established scientific theory. Does your scrapbook of edited middle east ramblings say otherwise? Best pray all the evidence away.

  • Randomfactor

    I predict they’ll change their tune in court and win this one.  It’s “ceremonial deism,” you know.

  • Justin Miyundees

    Them’s a smug pair of little jack asses there in the photy methinks.

  • http://sucktackular.com sucktackular

    That insecure, eh?

  • Cynthia McCain

    the thing is they don’t even do this to celebrate their faith. They do it as a statement against the godless socialists. Like a great big middle finger. Then, when the godless socialists complain, they are painted as the bad guys trying to take away someone’s right to freely worship.

  • newavocation

    High School football must have been a long time ago and probably the last time they got their photos in the paper.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Who is this ‘we’ they keep referring to?

    • Edmond

      That’s just what I was wondering.  Maybe these people would understand this issue better if we explain that it isn’t so much the word “god” that bothers us, as much as it is the word “we”.  Each of them, individually, can believe in all they gods they want, no one will ever try to stop them.  But signs which hang in state buildings speak for the STATE, not for the people who hung the signs.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        I usually take the tact that it’s just plain factually wrong, and as such I find it as embarrassing as a spelling or grammar error.  Makes no impact on the vast majority of people I’ve argued it with.  It’s the kind of thing that people have so much invested in being right about, that they’re not going to accept any new angle that makes them not right.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Who is this ‘we’ they keep referring to?

  • HitchsApprentice

    The only real reason for going to Texas…. would be to take a dump on the side of the road…..

  • Marguerite

    They had signs saying “In God We Trust” in the Chesterfield, VA public schools for years while my kids were there (I don’t know if they’re still there or not, as I no longer live there). Like another poster, I always sort of figured they couldn’t be successfully challenged because it’s the national motto.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1307550890 Marsha Whittington Abelman

    This is the town where, a few years ago, we were told we should NOT buy a business, because our “Jewish-sounding” last name would draw attention from the local KKK. Would it matter if we actually “were” Jewish? Dunno. The fact that someone there said that was enough. We shook the dust off our feet and left “Gilmer to the Gilmer-ites.”

    • Slotter127

       Well done! With intellectual pygmies like Bubba De Berry and Hughleen violating the Constitution, ignorance and bigotry will always rule in places like Gilmer.

  • Dan Dorfman

    Waitwaitwait…
    The fire chief is nicknamed “Bubba”? That makes me want to trust him with coordinating a rescue from a burning building. That name sure conveys professionalism and level-headedness.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=628665833 Bill Santagata

    “In God We Trust” is the national motto of the United States of America and is perfectly allowed to be displayed in courthouses. The FFRF needs to find a more constructive use of its time than additional failed attempts to re-open settled constitutional issues.

    • Coyotenose

       The very people who put up the signs have already admitted publicly that they’re doing so to promote their religion. Intent matters.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=628665833 Bill Santagata

        The posting of the national motto does not need to be entirely devoid of religious bases…it merely needs one secular basis. Courts must be deferential to the other branches of government and cannot (nor should not) override decisions by other officials unless the court can find no constitutional basis for the challenged conduct.

    • John

      The FFRF has every right to challenge signs such as this on taxpayer funded property and you know it.

      • stop2wonder

        They can challenge it but will probably lose. 

        Firstly, they can’t just challenge it’s posting, as it is IN FACT the National Motto and can therefore be displayed on public property. 

        To have any chance to win, they would have to challenge the constitutionality of it being our National Motto, and similar suits – such as trying to get “Under God” removed from the Pledge of Allegiance, and trying to get “In God We Trust”  removed from the currency – have all been defeated.  The US Supreme Court have ruled them constitutional , calling it Ceremonial Deism. 

    • http://www.summerseale.com/ Summer Seale

      I think it’s a wonderful use of the FFRF’s time if it continually pisses off the religious.

      That’s all I want, really: to piss them off. Especially those kind of fundies who go around claiming that America is a Christian nation, founded on Christian principles, and who post up religious crap in courtrooms and other public places to try to re-write history and make it so.

      Just for the nagging alone, and presumably to annoy people such as yourself, I want them to move forward with cases such as this.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=628665833 Bill Santagata

        Except you wouldn’t piss them off. You would lose in court which would only pump up the fundamentalist Christians even more.

  • Ian Reide

    I did some research about “In God we Trust”, it seems that this phrase is the official motto of the USA. Did not know that. So, if it is the official motto one could argue that one is in fact simply being patriotic in placing the sign everywhere. I mean if it is the motto, and it appears on dollar bills and so forth, how is that different to placing the motto in a court room?

    Fundamentally, the USA Bright community (is that phrase still in use?) should have as one of its goals a new USA motto.

    Just my $0.02 worth.

  • ORAXX

    I’m sure they’re right proud of their actions.  Right proud!  (Sarcasm)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ORRVVC5R2QWLTXEM6SX5L6BORE Jay Arrrr

    “Since DeBerry and Hefner clearly don’t understand the principle of
    church/state separation, I can’t wait to see their reactions when they
    found out. ”

    They’ll deny that church/state separation exists.

  • Justin Miyundees

    Someone should send’m a few “Allah Akbar” signs (since they’re sign enthusiasts) and a copy of Pascal’s wager so they’ll do the right thing. 

    • Ken

      Now this idea has potential.  A column of phrases in foreign tongues like this strung below the original would certainly take the wind out of Bubba’s argument.  And he can’t really argue the issue without arguing against his own intentions.  I’d send a few bucks to support such a project.

  • Kacy Ellis

    I grew up in Gregg county, just South of Upshur county.  I’m pretty sure there are  glorified Confederate statues around the court house as well. 

    Anytime I see news related to my native East Texas, I always think, “This is going to be embarrassing.” 

  • Kacy Ellis

    What can be expected from an area where the US Representative says things like this:

     http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/20/louie-gohmert-aurora-shootings_n_1689099.html

    Louie Gohmert is the US Representative for Upshur County and surrounding areas of East Texas.  I grew up in the area, and he always wins 80%+ votes in the elections.

  • kaydenpat

    Love the friendly Christian smirks on their faces.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    …”Hughleen”?

    Well… it IS TexASS.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X