Barb Otto's 93-county quest to persuade public officials to put up "In God We Trust" signs in their courthouses made its penultimate stop in Lincoln on Tuesday.

The 70-year-old Christian who lives north of O'Neill pitched the idea of displaying the country's national motto to the Lancaster County Board of Commissioners.

In 2015, she accepted the challenge of a California woman to get someone in each state to push for every courthouse to display the motto Congress formally adopted in 1956.

The motto is printed on U.S. currency, and mentions of God, providence and divine intervention were included in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution by the nation's founders, she said.

It stunned her the patriotic motto wasn't given prominence in Nebraska's courthouses, she said.

“I’ve seen a lot of changes in America in my 70 years, and they haven’t all been good," she said during public comment. "Political correctness has exploded in the last few years.”

A retired ultrasound technician whose family ranches, she began spending her Tuesdays on the road attending county board meetings.

She pitched the idea to the Holt County Board of Supervisors first, and it put up three signs, one costing just $27.50, she said.

The sheriff followed up that move and stuck the national motto on patrol cars.

Nearly 90 Nebraska counties have hung the national motto in their courthouses or agreed to put signs up following Otto's request.

Last year, six states passed legislation to prominently display the motto in public schools, according to Forbes.

A bill (LB73) to do so in Nebraska did not advance from legislative committee.

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"Many places I've been, the commissioners right there pull their billfolds out," she said.

She doesn't take money, and she's only had to debate the legality three times, she said. She brings a letter from a California law firm promising pro-bono defense for any county sued over public display of the motto.

She wasn't asked any questions by the Lancaster County Board after her presentation.

She has only Sarpy County left to complete her journey, though she said she's had trouble getting on the agenda since the county doesn't hold public comment sessions.

She implored Lancaster County's five commissioners to take some time to think about her proposal, and she promised not to "call and bug ya and see if you’ve got your sign up."

"My goal here is just to come and plant the seed, and I'm just about done planting seeds," she told the board.

After the hearing, Commissioner Sean Flowerday said he did not believe the County Board would be taking action on her request any time soon.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.


Riley Johnson reports on local government in Lincoln.

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