I have been putting my efforts recently in completing a short book version of Perspective on the Pledge. I have a draft version of the whole book ready, at Perspective on the Pledge.
If anybody wants to read a copy and send me back a list of corrections, I would appreciate it.
The book now contains a new argument against, "In God We Trust", which I have cut and pasted below.
But there is another important component of a motto that this version would not capture, and it is a component that sorely needs to be mentioned. Mottos are not merely descriptive. They are prescriptive. They do not tell you want the members of the group are. They tell you what the members of the group should be.
The Marine motto, ‘Semper Fidelis’ (or its spoken counterpart ‘Semper Fi’) is not just a description of what marines are. It is a statement of what a marine should be – what all should strive to be. Any marine that does not live up to the motto – any marine that is not faithful to his comrades in arms – is looked upon as a disgrace, as something unworthy of the name ‘Marine’.
The same is true of the Boy Scout motto, ‘Be Prepared’. Nobody thinks that all Boy Scouts actually are prepared at all times. This is an ideal to be strived for, even if it is never obtained. Boy scouts who are not prepared fall short of this ideal. They are the types of scouts that, according to this motto, should feel shame at their shortcomings, and that they should strive to correct in the future.
So, when the United States adopts as its motto, ‘In God We Trust’ they are fully aware of the fact that not all of us trust in God. However, the government is telling its people that it is the official government position that an American who does not trust in God is like a Marine who is not faithful, or a boy scout who is not prepared. He is somebody who falls short of the ideal, something that is actually unworthy of being in the group that uses the motto the name ‘American’. In the case of ‘In God We Trust’ we are being told that those who do not trust God are not worthy of being Americans – and that this is the government’s official position.
This, of course, is something that the government has no right to say.
This is not only false. It is malicious hate-mongering. Adopting this national motto does nothing less than adopt the position that the first and most important quality that an American has is that of a bigot eager to ignore and to violate the principles of justice and equality before the law. The government has absolutely no right, and absolutely no just cause, to adopt the official position that a person who does not trust in God simply fails to live up to the standards of being a good Amerycan.
Then, the proponents of such a law say that it has passed into the realm of ‘ceremonial deism’ which has lost its religious meaning. As I illustrate in the story, this is proved false by the vocal reaction that people have to removing this phrase. That motivation is a lie – another falsehood as blatant as claiming that 2. + 2 = 5.
Furthermore, I would dare any person who states that the Pledge or motto has lost its meaning due to use to stand before a Marine and state that because this motto is so widely used and referred to in Marine culture, that ‘Semper Fidelis’ to a Marine is now nothing more than ceremonia, void of any normative strength at all.