'In God We Trust' movement comes to Downey

DOWNEY - Dan Cristea never thought he'd conceive such a campaign while standing in his kitchen reading a news article, but he considers the epiphany no accident."My wife saw the article - she clipped it out of the paper," said Cristea. "Seal Beach had adopted a new measure to put an "In God We Trust" sign in their city hall. I thought about it and started attending our City Council meetings - we need God's help." Today, the 47-year-old Downey resident is the face of a growing movement encouraging the City Council to prominently display "In God We Trust" inside the council chambers. "Our country is not only in economic turmoil, but slowly God has been taken out of the public square," said Cristea who came with his family to the U.S. from Romania in 1977. "The American people value their deep belief in God - public supports of religious expression were never viewed as a threat to anyone." On August 11, Cristea spoke before the City Council, delivering a 5-minute speech about his proposal, highlighting the economic troubles that plague the nation. "Coming into this crisis, we were losing our manufacturing base," Cristea said. "It's not what it was. All of our consumer products are now made overseas." Cristea, who is a registered republican, credits the loss of industry with the North American Free Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA, and questions the government's role in commerce and currency. But despite his economic or political views, Cristea maintains that God is our only hope. "We are in the eleventh hour, Cristea said. "We can only do one thing - trust in God to help us. If we don't put our trust in Him, we have nothing to prevent further crisis." Since initiating the campaign, Cristea has given out dozens of letters to community members urging them to call City Hall to show their support, while also collecting pledges from those wishing to help pay for the materials and installation of the sign. The campaign hopes to raise enough money to cover the entire cost of the sign. "A prominent display in the council chambers would be a positive display of our trust in God and most people welcome that," Cristea said. "Everyone so far has received it with enthusiasm." Currently, more than 55 cities in California have passed measures in order to display "In God We Trust" in their council chambers. Many LA and Orange County cities have added these signs in recent years including Artesia, Hawthorne, Carson, Compton, Yorba Linda, Cypress, Huntington Beach and Tustin. "It's all happening all over California - other cities are doing it," Cristea said. "The people of Downey are a moral and religious people. Having "In God We Trust" displayed in the council chambers would fit our people and our city beautifully." Mayor Mario Guerra agrees that adding "In God We Trust" to the chambers would be a good thing for the city and is in favor of the change. "I brought this up in my campaign and in my first year in office," said Guerra over the phone. "I believe strongly in this - our country was founded on that belief." Guerra said he brought forth the issue earlier in the year, but withdrew due to a lack of legislative traction. Guerra plans to reintroduce the issue early next year. As of now, Cristea, who is a devout Christian, has seen little opposition and expects that the Council will eventually approve the addition. "I really am hopeful," said Cristea with a smile. "But those of us who support it have to go beyond that - we have to mean it in our hearts."

********** Published: October 23, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 27