There has long been a dispute over our country’s motto, and H. Con. Res. 13 aims to settle it. In one corner, E Pluribus Unum (roughly: out of many, one). It’s elegant, accurate, and using Latin makes us sound smart. In the other corner, In God We Trust. You’ve probably seen it on coinage and bumper stickers south of the Mason-Dixon line.
The sponsors of this resolution suggest the latter should be our sole national motto, and that we should encourage its display on public buildings. The resolution has many problems, but I’ve reprinted it here so you can make your own decision. The wording from the resolution is in bold with my commentary underneath. Enjoy!
Reaffirming ‘In God We Trust’ as the official motto of the United States and supporting and encouraging the public display of the national motto in all public buildings, public schools, and other government institutions.
Whereas `In God We Trust’ is the official motto of the United States;
I’d like to point to Alonzo Fyfe’s article right off the bat. In it, he discusses the whole notion of “We” in this proposed motto and gives a detailed analysis of the problem.
Whereas the sentiment, `In God We Trust’, has been an integral part of United States society since its founding;
The sponsors are showing some crafty maneuvering right off the bat. Notice he is claiming the “sentiment” has been integral, not the phrase or motto itself. The phrase itself was not used on any notable scale until the mid-1800s and not adopted as a motto until the 1950s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_God_We_Trust).
Whereas in times of national challenge or tragedy, the people of the United States have turned to God as their source for sustenance, protection, wisdom, strength, and direction;
And they are welcome to continue doing so without it being the national motto. Oh, and there’s that pesky point that many have not actually done this. Perhaps it should read “some people” instead of “the people” unless the goal is exclusion.
Whereas the Declaration of Independence recognizes God, our Creator, as the source of our rights, `We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’;
Thanks for providing the quote, sponsors. But where does it recognize God? I see it says Creator, but that could refer to the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Which leads me to my next point: I’d like to officially nominate “In Spaghetti we Trust” for consideration. Some might object that this singles out a specific religion and thereby violates the Establishment Clause. This objection is plainly ridiculous; people are free to worship the flying spaghetti monster of their choosing. I don’t discriminate.
Whereas the national anthem of the United States says `praise the power that hath made and preserved us a nation . . . and this be our motto: in God is our trust.’;
Wait, you’re telling me there are more verses to the Star-Spangled Banner? I think I hear Christina Aguilera weeping at the thought.
Whereas the words `In God We Trust’ appear over the entrance to the Senate Chamber and above the Speaker’s rostrum in the House Chamber;
Whereas the oath taken by all Federal employees, except the President, states `I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.’;
Thanks for reminding me; we should do something about that too. I’d also point out that they can opt out of saying this, so it’s not really all inclusive.
Whereas John Adams said, `Statesmen may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand.’;
Well, that’s one person’s opinion from 200 years ago. Many modern thinkers, like the late John Rawls, would disagree. As long as we’re quoting old Presidents:
I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors. -Thomas Jefferson
Whereas if religion and morality are taken out of the marketplace of ideas, the very freedom on which the United States was founded cannot be secured;
This is becoming repetitive (see above).
Whereas as President Eisenhower said and President Ford later repeated, `Without God, there could be no American form of government, nor, an American way of life.’; and
More presidential opinion. This seems very selective. I wonder what they would say to quotes from Presidents on subjects with which the bill’s sponsors disagreed. How about a quote from FDR on social programs? They are quite obviously cherry-picking quotes to support their view. I am forced to ask, “Why does it matter what these people said? How does that make it right?” Oh, and it’s also wrong (see above again).
Whereas President John F. Kennedy said, `The guiding principle and prayer of this Nation has been, is now, and ever shall be `In God We Trust.’:
This is demonstrably false.
Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Congress reaffirms `In God We Trust’ as the official motto of the United States and supports and encourages the public display of the national motto in all public buildings, public schools, and other government institutions.
Be it resolved that this proposal has no intellectual legs on which to stand.