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Council member says: “All this kind of stuff does is start a bunch of crap for everybody.”
Some Pittsburgh-area elected officials wanted to avoid a drawn-out messy fight over the separation of church and state in the public arena. So they killed a plan that was already stirring up some local controversy.
On Tuesday night, a majority of the Allegheny County Council defeated one council member’s proposal to display the phrase “In God We Trust” on the wall of the Gold Room, the chamber where the council meets in the Allegheny County Courthouse.
“All this kind of stuff does is start a bunch of crap for everybody,” said Allegheny County Councilmember James Ellenbogen, according to WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh. “The message, whether it was intended or not is that this has become a religious issue, whether you turn your back to it or not.”
The plan was introduced by Council member Sue Means, an evangelical Christian.
A national movement to place “In God We Trust” where elected officials debate, make laws and allocate tax dollars has put the phrase in the political spotlight and raised questions about whether it drives a wedge among religious groups.
Council member Michael Finnerty said on Tuesday night, according to WTAE-TV: “. . . I think that’s it’s very important to always remember that we keep the church and the state separate. Whenever we start mixing them, there’s going to be some problems.”
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald had said that he would have vetoed the plan if the council had OK’d it, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
WATCH: WTAE-TV’s report on the “In God We Trust” vote