Roane County leaders consider inscription on courthouse

Roane County leaders consider inscription on courthouse

May 9th, 2014 by The Knoxville News Sentinel in Local Regional News

The Roane County Courthouse in Kingston, Tenn.

The Roane County Courthouse in Kingston, Tenn.

A resolution in support of placing the national motto, "In God We Trust," prominently on the Roane County Courthouse and in the County Commission's meeting room is on the commission's Monday agenda.

"I'm proposing pretty much what Anderson County (has) done," said Commissioner Randy Ellis, who represents the Harriman, Swan Pond and Midtown areas of Roane County.

While Anderson County's move to put the motto over all courthouse public entrance doors spurred hours of debate over several meetings, Ellis said he expects the Roane County resolution to pass swiftly without much discussion.

"It reflects what the majority of people in Roane County feel," Ellis said of his proposal. "My faith is important to me, and a lot of my constituents have urged me to move forward with this."

The resolution notes the phrase is on U.S. currency, is prominently displayed in national lawmakers' venues and has been the national motto since 1956.

Placing the motto above the courthouse's main entrance and in the commission's meeting room would be "a way to solemnize public occasions and express confidence in our society," according to the resolution. It states that the "historic and patriotic" words in the motto have been "a profound source of strength and guidance to many generations of Americans."

Ellis said the cost of placing the motto above the courthouse entrance and in the meeting room would be paid through private donations. "A lot of pastors of different churches are willing to pitch in," he said.

Ellis said the Roane County effort is part of a nationwide push to place the motto over public buildings. He said Morgan County without fanfare last year had the motto installed on its courthouse.

The phrase is in place over all four entrances to the Morgan County Courthouse, said T.J. Aytes, executive assistant to Morgan County Executive Don Edwards. The local American Legion launched that initiative, he said, and it received unanimous support last summer from the 18 county commissioners, as well as from Edwards.

The purchase and installation costs for the signs, which Aytes said are "big enough that you can see them driving by," came from private donations.

Contact Bob Fowler at 865-481-3625 or