Despite Pressure, Allegheny County Council (PA) Votes Against “In God We Trust” Display in Courthouse

The Allegheny County Council in Pennsylvania was considering putting up an “In God We Trust” display in the County Courthouse this week.

Councilwoman Sue Means (below), the evangelical Christian who pushed for it, felt confident she had the eight votes she needed to pass the proposal, despite a local newspaper calling it a “misplaced motto” and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald saying he would veto the measure if it was passed.

With a 15-member council, Means needed 10 votes to override his veto.

I’m happy to say she didn’t get 10 votes.

She didn’t even get the eight she needed.

The final vote was 8-6 against putting up the display (with one absence).

Shortly after the vote, county Executive Rich Fitzgerald issued a statement commending council’s decision.

“I am pleased that Allegheny County will continue to be a community that welcomes diverse populations with different viewpoints and ways of life,” he said. “This vote makes it clear that all people, regardless of their religion, ethnicity, or belief system, are welcome here.”

After the vote, Ms. Means said she was disappointed by the outcome.

“I really thought I had the eight votes,” she said.

I guess Jesus just wasn’t on her side…

But this is a big deal. It isn’t often that a city council says no to a display like this. They listened to the citizens who wanted to keep government neutral instead of the demagogues who wanted to use their political powers to push their faith. Just listen to what the majority said:

“Whenever we start mixing [church and state], there’s going to be some problems,” said councilman Michael Finnerty, D-Scott.

Councilman Jim Ellenbogen, D-Banksville, described himself as a “person of strong faith,” but he said he does not want to see the national motto prominently placed in the Gold Room of the courthouse, where council meets.

“Putting it on that wall does nothing to make us a better council,” he said.

Councilwoman Barbara Daly Danko, D-Regent Square, said the legislative body had better things it could be doing.

“We shouldn’t do this,” she said.

Democrat Charles Martoni of Swissvale, a sponsor of the bill, voted against it.

“The more I looked at it, it’s unnecessary,” he said after the meeting.

Thank you, council members. (Well, the eight of you.) You did the right thing even though it wasn’t necessarily the popular thing. That’s the hallmark of a responsible, respectable politician.

Let’s hope other local governments follow in their footsteps.

(Thanks to Brian for the link)

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