“In God We Trust” makes its official appearance in the Fresno City Council chamber on Thursday.
District 6 Council Member Garry Bredefeld will host a brief dedication ceremony at 1 p.m. at City Hall. The public is invited to attend.
Bredefeld said he will deliver a few remarks. He said he has invited the other six council members and Mayor Lee Brand to join him. They will be encouraged to speak if so inclined, Bredefeld said.
“I know lots of people have expressed to me that they plan on coming,” Bredefeld told me on Tuesday. “It’s a celebration. We’re not planning on doing anything other than unveiling the words and letting people shoot pictures if they want to.”
“In God We Trust” is the nation’s motto. Bredefeld last month brought forward a resolution to have the words added to the council chamber’s main wall, right below the words “City of Fresno.”
Bredefeld’s proposal caused quite a stir throughout town.
Some critics said the presence of the phrase in a prominent public setting violated the spirit, if not the letter, of church-state separation. Other critics said there just wasn’t a pressing need to display the phrase in the council chamber.
Bredefeld said the national motto is displayed in statehouses, courthouses and legislative chambers throughout America. He said the national motto is about patriotism, not religion. Lots of Fresnans agreed with him.
The council on May 11 passed the resolution on a 6-0 vote. Council Member Oliver Baines was absent.
“As I’ve said all along, ‘In God We Trust’ is our national motto. It reflects the faith and values and patriotism of this community and of our country,” Bredefeld said on Tuesday. “That’s what it represents, and now it’s in our council chamber. It’s time to celebrate, and I think it’s just a positive reflection of this city.”
An outside vendor on Tuesday did the work of adding the words to the council chamber wall. Total cost of the project was $1,736.42. Six donors provided all of the money, Bredefeld said.
The donors are: Stuart Chandler, Farid Assemi, Rich and Lisa Nadeau, Ron and Betty Shirley, Mickey Kaitangian, and Roger Leach.
No taxpayer money was spent on the project.
“I want to sincerely thank all of the supporters who wrote to us, who came to the council meeting and who prayed for us,” Bredefeld said. “I’m very grateful to all of the people who made this happen.”
Bredefeld said he knows the support for the May 11 resolution was tepid in some quarters. It’s no secret that the council dais was one of those areas.
“But, at the end, I think they saw how relevant it was to do something like this, how positive it was to do something like this,” Bredefeld said. “And though they may not have been as strongly supportive as I am, I think at the end of the day they felt that it was worth supporting.”
Bredefeld on Tuesday showed me the finished product in the council chamber. In my opinion, “In God We Trust” looks good beneath “City of Fresno.”
Thursday’s dedication ceremony begins a half-hour before the start of a council meeting.
Said Bredefeld: “I’m just going to be happy about the City Council accomplishing this.”
Photo: The Fresno Bee