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Several contribute to what 'In God We Trust' means at the University of Charleston

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What does the national motto, "In God We Trust," mean to Americans today?

Daniel L. Anderson, Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball, James Haught, Imam Ehteshamul Haque, Monsignor P. Edward Sadie and Rabbi Victor Urecki will explore this topic with University of Charleston President Ed Welch in a panel discussion titled, "In God We Trust: Finding the ‘We.'" 

The event is free and open to the public and will take place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 27 in Riggleman Hall's Geary Auditorium.  

"Many U.S. citizens have no idea that we even have a national motto," Welch said.  "So what is the significance of our having adopted it and then what do the words themselves mean? Those are the questions that will be pursued in the conversation with these accomplished West Virginians from various backgrounds."

Each panelist was asked ahead of time to prepare a brief essay on what "In God We Trust" means to them. The essays have been compiled into a pamphlet, which will be handed out to attendees at the event.

Support for the conversation is provided by the Herchiel and Elizabeth Sims fund at the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation. The Fund's purpose is to promote discussion around the meaning of the national motto, "In God We Trust." In 1991 the Sims fund sponsored "In God We Trust: The Mystic Motto," a lecture by Dr. Welch. Since then, Welch has worked with the fund for a number of events, including "God and Violence in American Culture," which was held at the University of Charleston in fall 2013. 

Daniel L. Anderson is the second president of Appalachian Bible College since its founding in 1950. Anderson has served the Association of Biblical Higher Education, as well as the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, West Virginia Independent Colleges and Universities, the Friends of Israel mission agency and the Fellowship of Missions. He has a three-year bible/theology diploma from Appalachian Bible College, a master's in divinity from Grace Theological Seminary and a master's in sacred theology and doctorate in theology from Dallas Theological Seminary.

Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball is the resident bishop of the West Virginia Area of the United Methodist Church. Bishop Steiner Ball was a first reserve delegate to the 2004 and first elected delegate to the 2008 and 2012 General Conferences of The United Methodist Church and to the Northwestern Jurisdictional Conferences. She has served the general church in a variety of areas, including the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry and the Jurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy. The bishop has a bachelor's in religion from Dickinson College, a master's in divinity from Duke Divinity School and a doctorate from Wesley Theological Seminary.   

James A. Haught began working for the Charleston Gazette in 1953. Haught has played many roles during his half-century career in newspaper, including being a religion columnist. He was the Gazette's leading investigative reporter for 13 years, and he was named editor in 1992. He writes nearly 400 Gazette editorials a year, plus occasional personal columns and articles. Haught has won 20 national news writing awards, and is author of nine books and 85 national magazine articles. Thirty of his columns have been distributed by national syndicates. He is also senior editor of Free Inquiry magazine and he is listed in Who's Who in America and Contemporary Authors. 

Imam Ehteshamul Haque serves as the spiritual leader and Islamic teacher at Islamic Association of West Virginia. He was born in India and is fluent in four languages: English, Arabic, Urdu, and Hindi. Imam Haque has master's degrees in Urdu and Arabic and earned a Ph.D. in Arabic language and literature from Aligarh Muslim University in India. He is a graduate of an eight-year Islamic studies program at Darul Uloom, a noted religious institution in north India. He taught at various colleges in India, published articles and books and has actively participated in Islamic seminars in India and the United States.

Monsignor P. Edward Sadie is the third highest rank of Monsignor, Protonotary Apolistic, and acting pastor at the Basilica Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, as well the president of Charleston Catholic High School. He is presently serving on The Diocesan Board of Advisors for Catholic Schools. He is a trustee of the Priests Health & Retirement Association, the Diocesan Presbyteral Council and the St. Francis Hospital Board of Directors and Catholic Charities WV Board of Directors. The Monsignor has bachelor's degrees in philosophy and theology from St. Mary's Seminary and a master's in Latin from the University of Michigan.

Rabbi Victor Urecki has served as rabbi and spiritual leader of B'nai Jacob Synagogue since 1986. He is a member of the Rabbinical Council of America, as well as the Chicago Board of Rabbis. He is also on the Executive Rabbinical Cabinet of the Jewish Federations of North America, the largest Jewish philanthropic organization in the world. He serves on the American Israel Affairs Committee and on the board of directors at the University of Charleston. Urecki is a contributing editor to the Charleston Gazette. He was the 2011 recipient of the "Living the Dream Award" and the 2014 "West Virginia Civil Rights Day Award" for his work on interfaith relations.