Petition gets 300 signatures for “In God We Trust” on Saluda City Hall

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, June 16, 2016

For the second month in a row, Saluda City Council has heard from residents wanting commissioners to reverse their decision denying the installation of “In God We Trust” on city hall. This month residents brought a petition that as of Wednesday had more than 300 signatures. As of 2013, Saluda’s population was 707 residents. 

Archie Hardy told commissioners he tried to get the issue on this November’s ballot but was unable to do so without traveling to Raleigh to ask for legislation, so he created a petition in favor of the wording on city hall.

Saluda commissioners denied a request in March to place the wording on city hall.

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The board of commissioners met Monday, June 13 and heard from Hardy, Dotty Eargle, Rev. Henry Vegter and Ellis Burgess, all in favor of the wording and from resident Ellen Rogers, who is against the wording.

Hardy said when he turned in the petition Monday night there were 294 signatures, but he has since received up to 15 more. He asked commissioners to reverse the decision.

“I’m a Christian and I want it on there,” Hardy said Wednesday. “To me, it’s normal to have that.”

Hardy also said he found it interesting that Saluda will not place the wording on city hall, but during a swearing in of interim clerk Jessica Desiano Monday night, she had to say the words, “so help me God” twice.

Saluda Mayor Fred Baisden said on Tuesday that a copy of the petition was left at city hall Tuesday morning.

“We are verifying the names on the petition,” said Baisden. “The board will decide if they want to revisit this issue.”

Eargle said she supported Hardy in getting “In God We Trust” on city hall. She said a Saluda first responder vehicle already has the wording.

Rev. Vegter said the basis of success in any society is God, so why try to eliminate his influence? He asked why anyone would want to destroy the freedom our young men have been fighting for and removing Godly influence is to make a city very unsafe.

“Should we make Saluda a slum town?” Vegter asked. “God have mercy on us.”

Vegter then read a few Bible versus, with one audience member saying, “That’s for church, sir,” and others applauding him when he was done.

Burgess said he saw Saluda for the first time in his life in 1982 and moved there in 1983, saying he knew this was the place he wanted to live. He said he has lived many places, but “Saluda to me has them all beat.”

“Nothing would please me more than to see those words installed, ‘In God We Trust,’” said Burgess.

Rogers thanked commissioners for the “thoughtful decision you made a few months ago.”

She said nobody slipped that on the agenda and the decision was on the “up and up.”

Rogers said everyone knows how she feels about the decision and she is all for trust in our city government.

“If you trust in God, thank God we have churches,” Rogers said.

She said we have freedom of religion and that’s what our troops fight for, the freedom we have in the United States.

“This topic, it divides a community,” said Rogers.

Rogers said Saluda has love here and diversity and hopes the city will stand by its decision it made a couple of months ago.

Commissioner Leon Morgan said during Monday’s meeting that he’s in favor of putting “In God We Trust” on city hall.

The Polk County Board of Commissioners had the wording installed on the front of the Womack building in Columbus as well as inside the R. Jay Foster Hall of Justice where commissioners hold meetings. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office also installed the wording on sheriff cars as well as the Saluda Fire and Rescue on its engines.

During Saluda’s March 14 meeting when the issue was voted on, six residents spoke about the wording, all against placing “In God We Trust” on city hall.

Rogers said in March the people of the United States and of Saluda are not made up of merely Christians.