The lone Republican on Whitemarsh Township’s Board of Supervisors, Jim Totten, placed a full-page advertisement in the February edition of the Whitemarsh Township Enterprise, a free publication that is mailed to homes in the township, in an effort to generate interest in restoring the word “worship” to the township’s motto. The ad was paid for by Friends of Jim Totten.
The Township’s motto is currently “A Great Place to Live and Work’ and according to Totten use to be “A Great Place to Live, Work and Worship.” From Totten’s ad:
Years ago, we lost touch with our heritage and history by removing the word ‘worship’ from our municipality’s motto that residents and visitors see printed on signs across the township. Now, we have both the opportunity and duty to fix this wayward omission and, once again, carry out the spiritual and patriotic legacy of our forebears.
Further in the advertisement he proposes that private fundraising would be undertaken to pay for the needed changes if Whitemarsh’s Board of Supervisors voted to restore “worship” to the motto.
Whitemarsh’s Board of Supervisors hasn’t taken up the matter, but during the public comment period at its February 23rd meeting the issue was raised by residents. From the Times Herald:
“Our objection is the addition of ‘to worship’ because it is completely inappropriate, mainly based on the separation of church and state,” said resident Michael McCue, a resident of Whitemarsh, who also submitted a letter to the board written by his wife.
“I really appreciate your idea. I love anything that will help beautify and improve our community,” resident Brett Fadigan said. “But because I strongly believe in respect for myself and others, I would be deeply offended by putting the word worship back on. It’s not our place as individuals or any governmental body of the United States founded on religious freedoms to say something like this … Should this be on a sign that appears to be official from our governmental representatives? Absolutely not.”
One resident and Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale (R) spoke in favor of the change.
Totten used the Township’s signage as his primary example of where motto is displayed. The sign at the Township Building (pictured at top of article) doesn’t include the current motto, nor does “Welcome to Whitemarsh Township” signage on Germantown Pike entering from Plymouth Township and Springfield Township (pictured left). The same is true with a sign acknowledging the border on Skippack Pike near Butler Pike.
The signs are also not uniform, such as the older sign (pictured middle) at the Springfield Township/Whitemarsh Border on Thomas Road. We did find the motto used on a sign at a park in Flourtown (pictured right). Please note that we did not traverse the entire township to look at every sign.
We also searched for keywords associated with the motto on the Township’s website and only found it at the bottom of the township’s letterhead. It isn’t in the website’s main header or anywhere prominent on the website. A search for the word “motto” brought up zero results.
Overall the current motto doesn’t appear to be used much. This is an interesting issue. Do you consider this proposal to be an effort to impose religion through the local government or is it an affirmation of Whitemarsh being a place where it is safe to worship as you please? Let us know in the comments.