China Grove, NC - 'In God We Trust' is the official motto of the United States. It first appeared on U.S. coins and later paper money. But it's also a phrase many North Carolina cities, towns and counties proudly display, and China Grove is no exception.
"The tough thing is at times people want to make this a religious issue,” said China Grove Mayor Lee Withers. “And on social media it's turned into a religious issue."
Withers is referring to a post on the China Grove Police Department Facebook page showing an "In God We Trust" decal on the bumper of one of the department's vehicles. It's since generated more than 3,000 likes. But Town Manager Ken Deal says not all of the comments have been nice.
"We fly the American Flag, we say the Pledge of Allegiance before our meetings, we have very low crime here and we felt like we would just simply support the United States motto by putting it on our vehicles,” said Deal.
It's a move Deal says few people in town have contested, including local business owner Alan Goodman.
"Whether it be an individual or a state or a county owned vehicle, seeing that more often in your eyes will help the community lead a more Christian life or a more civil life,” Goodman said.
But town officials say more than anything they hope it helps people lead a more american life.
"We just want it to be an American issue,” said Withers. “We want people to be proud to be an American, and, you know, to know the U.S. motto."
The China Grove Police Department has since posted a response to their Facebook page encouraging open dialogue but asking everyone to be respectful.
The decals come at no cost to taxpayers. A Lexington, Kentucky organization known as the U.S. Motto Action Committee gave them to the town free of charge.