The Secular Coalition for America has designed a letter to be sent to representatives to oppose House Resolution 13, which endorses the national motto, "In God We Trust".
I do not think that a team of the best marketing minds in America could have designed a more impotent and ineffective communication.
Let us be honest about the intent and effect of this legislation. The people who favor it do so because it constitutes an official message from the government of the United States to the people that citizens who trust in God are more acceptable than those who do not.
The message naturally appeals to those who trust in God. They relish being officially recognized by this government as its preferred citizens.
WE trust in God. Do you want to be one of us? Then trust in God. Do you not trust in God, then you are not one of us.
A rich history of discrimination does not provide an argument in its defense. The fact that I can find quotes from the Founding Fathers defending the inferiority if women and blacks would not serve as an argument in favor of discrimination against women and blacks. A law referring to these in a list of "Whereas" clauses would not yield the conclusion that continued discrimination is legitimate. Nor is the fact that the government itself participated in these practices a legitimate defense of the claim that it continue to do so.
As you know, the phrase, "all men are created equal" was approved by a body where a substantial portion of its members owned slaves. Many who did not own slaves still approved of the practice. Only a minority disapproved.
Certainly they held to very admirable ideals. Yet, they were human, and, in practice, often fell short of their own principles.
Consequently, when we look back on their accomplishments, we sometimes find that their principles and their practices take two different routes. When they do, we are forced to make a choice. Are we going to endorse their principles and choose a more consistent set of practices? Or are we going to follow their practices and abandon their principles?
In principle . . . in principle . . . is the message that the government finds those citizens who trust in God more acceptable than those who do not a mark of good government?
Remember, the Founding Fathers adopted its principles regarding church and state from what, to them, was recent history. They had learned from bitter experience that a government that endorses one religion over others leads to a nation soaked in blood and violence.
If a government can brand citizens as unacceptable based on a lack of belief in God - if we do not accept in principle that this is a bad idea - then the government may also, in principle, brand citizens as unacceptable if they do not accept Jesus as their lord and savior, or if they fail to recognize that there is only one God and Mohammed as His prophet.
Worse, this act endorses the claim that it is legitimate for a government to divide its citizens into two classes - a superior class that trusts in God and an inferior class that does not. It endorses the practice of raising this form of discrimination to the level of national motto. This says to the world, "Of all of the things we value - of all of the things that identify us as Americans - we hold the principle of dividing citizens into classes based on their religious beliefs to be the most important."
In principle . . . In principle . . . Does this mark America as a great society?
This motto, "In God We Trust", does not come from the founding fathers. They gave us a different motto. They gave us the motto, E Pluribus Unum. From many, one. From many states, one nation. From many people, from many cultures, one nation. From those who trust in God, and from those who do not, one great nation.
The founding fathers opted for a national motto that aimes to unite Americans. The legislature today prefers a motto that divides Americans.
Nothing could be clearer. Nothing could be more obvious. The intent of "In God We Trust" is right there on its face for all to see - to cleave the nation into two parts, "we" who trust in God, and "they" who do not. "We" divided from "They". Us versus "Them".
Can you truly believe that this is what the Founding Fathers, on their best days, if they were to fully embrace in practice the principles on which they sought to build our nation - would have wanted? One nation . . . divided between 'we' and 'they' on religious grounds, officially endorsed by the government as its greatest value?