As a citizen disappointed by the actions of my government, it’s easy to feel helpless. However having this platform, I decided to use it to publish the following letter which I sent to all of my City Councilmen and Mayor.
To the Torrance City Councilmen and Mayor Furey,
I am writing to you today in regards to Councilman Chen's request to display the words "In God We Trust" in city council chambers which was recently passed. I would simply like to say that I, like many others, am appalled at the outright disrespect for the non-Christian community and disappointed at the questionable circumstances in which this motion was passed.
To begin, the fact that this motion was passed at a point in the City Council Meeting when the public was ordered to leave is completely contrary to the transparency many of you claim to want for Torrance City Government. You claim the desire for the words "In God We Trust" to be engraved in Council Chambers is rooted in its history during the founding of this nation, but similarly historic are the words "For the People, By the People," which you blatantly defied by ignoring the public outcry about this motion at the following city council meeting. It seems as though you realize that this would be unpopular with the public and are just disregarding it by choosing to vote on it when the public is not present, then ignoring their complaints after the fact.
However, questionable circumstances aside, what I find to be most appalling is the underwhelming and unpersuasive logic behind this move. To claim that this action does not endorse a particular religion on the city's behalf, to claim that this honors Torrance's "traditional nature" (as Councilman Chen described), to claim that this is solely an act of patriotism, and to claim that this is not a slap in the face to the non-Christian and non religious citizens of Torrance is ignorant. Given the many sentiments founded in hate within this country, to call the claim this is simply patriotic and not a religious statement amidst the contentious political climate we face in America today can only be called ignorant. This issue is so much more complex than what your justifications claim it to be and this action will surely involve a subsequent alienation of non-Christians within Torrance. It is a shame to sit by and watch our city digress at the hands of this council's decision to engrave this statement where it will be seen by all who enter Torrance City Hall. I can assure you, Councilmen Chen, Griffiths, Herring, and Mattucci, that you have just lost the trust of many of your constituents by pushing for this motion to be passed.
Lastly, I'd like to remind you that while you claim this statement is what our country was founded on, our country was also founded on the separation of church and state. Our country was settled by people who were escaping religious persecution before the Founding Fathers ever even uttered the words "In God We Trust." Even dating back to before the founding of our country, we have seen time and again throughout history that religion has separated people through war and persecution more than it has united them. I wonder if these things occurred to you when voting to pass this motion to endorse a religious statement on behalf of this great city.