‘In God we trust,’ when politically convenient

A government that feels entitled to tell you to trust in God can also feel entitled to tell you there is no God.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday voted in favor of a Congressional resolution reaffirming “In God We Trust” as the national motto and supporting its placement on public buildings, public schools, and other government institutions. This House Concurrent Resolution 13, which passed by a vote of 396 to 9, with 2 voting present, was sponsored by Representative Randy Forbes (R-Va.). He added, “As our nation faces challenging times, it is appropriate for Members of Congress and our nation – like our predecessors - to firmly declare our trust in God, believing that it will sustain us for generations to come.”

What Forbes and many other Americans fail to recognize or acknowledge is that “In God We Trust” only became our official motto in 1956, at the height of the Cold War and the McCarthy witch-hunt for communists, as a means to separate us from godless communism. The de facto motto established by our founders had been E Pluribus Unum, which is Latin for “out of many, one.” We are a diverse population, and this phrase confirms American diversity as our source of strength. We are one nation made up of people from many lands, and people of many faiths and none. Similarly, during the McCarthy era, the words “under God” were added to our inclusive “one nation, indivisible” Pledge of Allegiance.

Such sectarian religious propaganda fails to unite us. The phrase “In God We Trust” does not apply to more than 16 percent of Americans who identify as atheist, agnostic, humanist, nonreligious, or unaffiliated. There are millions of good Americans who simply do not believe in a deity, let alone trust one. Branding our secular country with a religious motto only creates division among its citizens and erodes the wall of separation between church and state. Our secular government should neither impose a religious motto on its citizens nor give an official stamp of approval to a particular religious worldview.

This House Resolution sends an inappropriate message that the religious views of certain Americans stand superior to others. Do we need the State to serve as our pastors, reminding us to be faithful? We are reinforcing power in the State to watch over our religious activities, a blatant offense to the separation of church and state.

Freedom of religion is one of our fundamental liberties. Nobody has the right to “establish” any religious sentiment, or claim to speak for all Americans on this important issue. We are a nation of laws, a country that respects the freedom of and freedom from religion for every American. Those of us who would like to restore the movingly appropriate “E pluribus unum” are being true to our country’s historic traditions.

Our secular government must remain neutral with respect to religion. A government that feels entitled to tell you to trust in God can also feel entitled to tell you there is no God.

More on: , , ,

About

Matt Kenyon Matt is a blogger and social media marketer with a passion for the gospel and its impact on all spheres of life. He makes music and mischief and writes at www.mathoniusspeaks.com

Read More Articles

egg.jpg
Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.

shutterstock_186566975
Hey Bart Ehrman, I’m Obsessed with Jesus, Too — But You’ve Got Him All Wrong

Why the debate over Jesus’ divinity matters.

SONY DSC
Dear Evangelicals, Please Reconsider Your Fight Against Gay Rights

A journalist and longtime observer of American religious culture offers some advice to his evangelical friends.

shutterstock_186090179
How Passover Makes the Impossible Possible

When we place ourselves within the story, we can imagine new realities.

This Passover, We’re Standing at an Unparted Red Sea

We need to ask ourselves: What will be the future of the State of Israel — and what will it require of us?

shutterstock_185995553
How to Debate Christians: Five Ways to Behave and Ten Questions to Answer

Advice for atheists taking on Christian critics.

HIFR
Heaven Hits the Big Screen

How “Heaven is for Real” went from being an unsellable idea to a bestselling book and the inspiration for a Hollywood movie.

shutterstock_186364295
This God’s For You: Jesus and the Good News of Beer

How Jesus partied with a purpose.

pews
Just As I Am

My childhood conversion to Christianity was only the first of many.

shutterstock_127731035 (1)
Are Single People the Lepers of Today’s Church?

In an age of rising singlehood, many churches are still focused on being family ministry centers.

2337221655_c1671d2e5e_b
Mysterious Tremors

People like me who have mystical experiences may be encountering some unknown Other. What can we learn about what that Other is?

bible
Five Bible Verses You Need to Stop Misusing

That verse you keep quoting? It may not mean what you think it means.

csl_wall_paper
What C.S. Lewis’ Marriage Can Tell Us About the Gay Marriage Controversy

Why “welcome and wanted” is a biblical response to gay and lesbian couples in evangelical churches.