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The Roundup

Oklahoma: Ready to be Ridiculed

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Posted 03.28.12


The state seal of Oklahoma, featuring what's thought to be the state's motto, "Labor Conquers All."

The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a resolution to change the state motto from “Labor Omnia Vincit,” or “Labor Conquers All,” to “Oklahoma – In God We Trust!”

Rep. Danny Morgan, D-Prague, introduced the resolution, saying “Labor Omnia Vincit” was “never officially authorized as the state motto,” the Associated Press reported. It does, however, appear on the state seal.

“I’m going to call what is now located on our seal as our state slogan and let ‘In God We Trust’ be our motto,” Morgan said, according to the AP. “I think they can run parallel to each other.”

Ryan Kiesel, former Democratic lawmaker and the executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the resolution was a waste of time and “a slight to the state’s residents who may not believe in God,” the AP reported.

“I think that this frivolous waste of legislative time takes away from the sincere meaning of our current state motto and discounts the fact that Oklahoma has believers and non-believers alike,” Kiesel said.

Readers writing to This Land have speculated about backlash from the labor movement in Oklahoma, who could find the replacement of the original motto offensive (see below).

Coincidentally (or not), a Gallup poll, picked up by The Huffington Post, listed Oklahoma as one of the top 10 most religious states in America. Forty-eight percent of residents here classify themselves as “very religious,” saying, “religion is an important part of their daily life and that they attend religious services every week or almost every week,” Gallup reported.

House Concurrent Resolution 1024 reads, in full:

WHEREAS, it has long been believed that “Labor Omnia Vincit”, or “Labor Conquers All Things”, is the state motto.  However, the framers of the Oklahoma Constitution did not establish an official state motto.  Although it is described in the Constitution as part of the description of the Great Seal of Oklahoma, there is no indication that it was meant to indicate a state motto; and

WHEREAS, Oklahoma Motto, Inc., a nonprofit, bipartisan patriotic group, has researched the issue and determined that our state has never declared an official state motto.  Their research of the Oklahoma State Constitution discovered that the word “motto” does not appear.  They also researched the Oklahoma Statutes from the beginning of statehood and could find no mention of establishing a state motto for Oklahoma; and

WHEREAS, the origin of our national motto comes from the poem “Defence of Fort M’Henry” by Francis Scott Key, containing the phrase, “And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust!’ ” set to the tune of “Anacreon in Heaven”, this became our national anthem, the “Star Spangled Banner”; and

WHEREAS, while the words “In God We Trust” were added to United States coins in 1864, it was not until 1956 that this phrase replaced “E Pluribus Unum” as the United States national motto; and

WHEREAS, although the State of Florida adopted the phrase “In God We Trust” as the official motto of their state in 2006, Oklahoma Motto, Inc., believes that “Oklahoma—In God We Trust!” would be both different and legal.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE 2ND SESSION OF THE 53RD OKLAHOMA LEGISLATURE, THE SENATE CONCURRING THEREIN:

THAT the official motto of the State of Oklahoma is hereby declared to be: “Oklahoma-In God We Trust!”.

Adopted by the House of Representatives the 26th day of March, 2012.

We invited our Facebook fans to weigh in on the issue by voting for either “Labor Omnia Vincit” or “Oklahoma – In God We Trust!” as the more appropriate motto or writing in their own suggestions. What we learned: Oklahomans are a creative bunch who aren’t afraid to laugh at themselves. Here are a few of their suggestions:

  • “Government so small it fits in your vagina,” but in Latin
  • Oklahoma: Bringing Up the Rear
  • Ignorantia est Bliss
  • This Land Was Made For You and Me
  • Oklahoma: We Are Not Our Government Officials
  • Please help by sending your gently used Science and Civics Textbooks
  • Heaven on earth!
  • We’re doing fine
  • Got Meth?
  • Let’s Noodle!

The national news and opinion sites are sure to have a field day with the proposal, as they generally do with anything oddball coming out of Oklahoma. But “Oklahoma – In God We Trust!” wouldn’t be the worst state motto there is; check out these doozies:

  • California: Eureka (I have found it)
  • Colorado: Nil sine numine (Nothing without the Deity)
  • Connecticut: Qui transtulit sustinet (He who transplanted sustains)
  • Maryland: Fatti maschii, parole femine (Manly deeds, womanly words)
  • Oregon: Alis volat propriis (She flies with her own wings)
  • West Virginia: Montani semper liberi (Mountaineers are always free)

Holly Wall, News Editor