In case folks haven’t noticed, SanTana is in a celebratory mood these days. With the city’s 150th anniversary, there’s been new murals unveiled, throwback breakfast parties in downtown and a mariachi festival this weekend to mark the occasion. Last month, interfaith leaders even gathered to offer a blessing for SanTana with its sesquicentennial in mind.
Lord knows, it sure seems like SanTana could use a prayer or two, especially with the city in fiscal shambles and homicides on the rise. But the City Council wants to make public piety much more visible in the form of a city seal placed behind the dais with the words “In God We Trust” posted above it.
Councilwoman Cecilia Iglesias, an evangelical Christian, brought the item up for discussion at Tuesday’s city council meeting.
Several speakers from the community voiced support for adding the seal and the wording, including Ward 4 city council candidate Bishop Gale Oliver Jr. “If we truly want to bless Santa Ana, I think this goes right along with it,” he said. “We ought to put ‘In God We Trust’ because we ought to be trusting in God. Amen!”
Nobody spoke against the addition during public comments.
“It would be a great opportunity for us to display the pride that we have in our city,” said Iglesias. “We don’t have an emblem back here.”
The discussion at council only provided the city manager Kristine Ridge with direction in regards to the idea. No vote was taken. Ridge told Mayor Miguel Pulido that her staff could return with a mock design.
Councilman David Penaloza mentioned that a majority of city councils in Orange County have a city seal along with the motto and that it’d be a timely update to go along technology upgrades coming to SanTana’s council chambers.
Anaheim city council added “In God We Trust,” a display that debuted in council chambers during the summer of 2012 just days before back-to-back fatal police shootings sparked a downtown riot.
Only one point of caution emerged during the discussion in SanTana. Councilman Vicente Sarmiento asked the city attorney to look into any potential legal challenges to such a godly display. “Nobody is saying we don’t have the ability to practice our faith,” he said. “Sometimes, though, folks want to do that personally and in the privacy of their own synagogue, church [or] parish.”
Sarmiento didn’t mention litigation of the separation of church and state variety, but expressed concerns about somebody wanting to take the next step in terms of displaying a religious symbol like a crucifix or Star of David.
Councilman Juan Villegas ridiculed any such notion saying that nobody ever bothered with legally challenging invocations at city council meetings nor the blessing of the city last month.
Maybe a better idea would be to slap sponsorship logos of big money donors on council members’ seats on the dais. In the meantime, remember the Book of Proverbs, 16:18!
Gabriel San Román is from Anacrime. He’s a journalist, subversive historian and the tallest Mexican in OC. He also once stood falsely accused of writing articles on Turkish politics in exchange for free food from DönerG’s!