JEFFERSON — An artistic protest was held outside the Ashe County Courthouse on Sunday evening, April 24, in response to the motto “In God We Trust” being added to the outside of the building.

According to the protest’s organizer, Cassondra Greer, eight area residents took part in a photography-based protest, where words such as “equality” or “love” replaced the word “God” in the national motto.

Protestors chose their own protest words, and wrote them down on pieces of paper. Each protestor then held their cards high, blocking the word “God” in the national motto, from the point of view of the photographer.

The resulting images show phrases like “In Courage We Trust,” rather than the national motto.

“I’m a photographer, so I wanted it to be artistic, but still respectful,” Greer said. “I think we managed to do what we set out to do.”

During an interview with the Ashe Mountain Times, Greer said she wanted to make it clear the protest was not against Christianity, and that she has a deep respect for freedom of religion and diversity.

“The point of the protest was just to say that Christianity doesn’t necessarily represent everyone in Ashe County,” Greer said. “Also, $2,500 being used for idolatry is absurd when we have so many people who are hurting in Ashe County.”

The images were later uploaded to Facebook, and shared across local social media pages.

According to Greer, she was later contacted by several area residents who were interested in the protest, and would have participated if they knew about it beforehand.

Greer said she may coordinate a similar protest effort in the future.

Many other area residents were more critical of the photo protest, according to Greer.

“A lot of people said today that ‘I’ll pray for you,’ or just ‘You’re wrong.’ What I would say to them is, ‘Please pray for the people who are less fortunate,’” Greer said.

The national motto “In God We Trust” was officially added to the outside of the Ashe County Courthouse by county staff on Tuesday, April 19.

The Ashe County Board of Commissioners accepted a proposal to add the motto “In God We Trust” to the outside of the Ashe County Courthouse in a 5-0 vote on April 20, 2015. However, installing the phrase took longer than expected.

According to Ashe County Finance Director Sandra Long, the total cost of the letters was $2,509.

However, with a sales tax runoff, the county’s cost will equal $2,351.

According to Greer, two area women have started a group called “Agreeable Disagreers,” which will attempt to raise and donate $2,500, the approximated cost of the motto’s lettering, to local charities.

As a group member, Greer said Agreeable Disagreers will attempt to learn more about the problems that residents face before donating monies to charities that align with their findings.

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