In God We Trust
The recent comedy involving judge Roy Moore, a 5,300-pound granite sculpture of the Ten Commandments that’s been ordered removed from Alabama’s halls of justice, and weepy acolytes of the Christian Way falling to the ground in prayer to protest the monstrous blasphemy of those who would attempt to separate Church and State, reminds us of a question about which we’ve long wondered.
Why does our currency declare “In God We Trust”? Why does our Pledge of Allegiance proclaim that we are one nation, “under God”? Previously it was one nation merely “indivisible,” but in 1954, after a campaign from the virtuous Knights of Columbus, Congress added the phrase “under God,” making the pledge not just an oath but a public prayer. Some anti-abortion editorialists like to tinker with the Pledge further by adding “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, born and unborn.” Call us wild revisionists, but if we’re going to alter our Pledge, we’d like to have it read: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with equality, liberty and justice for all.”
In any case, it’s hard for us to understand how God got involved in our national currency and school Pledge — and countless other facets of our public life — without violating one of the sacred tenets of our Constitution. Atheists, pagans, animists, and some sects of Hindus, we’re sure, do not subscribe to the notion that the United States of America is a theocracy – and certainly not the monotheist theocracy people of the Judeo-Christian faith envision it to be. Yet every time we pull out our wallet and every time our children salute the flag, the tyranny of the God-majority asserts itself — in direct contradiction of the principles upon which this country was founded. Many of America’s early settlers were supposedly in search of freedom from religious oppression. They wanted to worship their lord in peace, without the State meddling in their spiritual matters. Religious oppression, though, goes both ways. By insisting that America is indeed a nation “under God,” a nation who places its “trust” in God, we oppress those who do not share those beliefs.
The problem is, in the current climate of faux patriotism, anyone who sticks up for the democratic ideals that make this the greatest country on Earth is sure to be painted as an anti-American who doesn’t know when to shut up and meekly go along with the program. Imagine one of the current crop of Democratic presidential candidates announcing that, although he himself is a devout Christian, he opposes mixing Church and State, and that the trend toward including “Christian” beliefs in our national policies has sent us cascading down a slippery slope of decreased civil liberties and increased opprobrium for “radical” theories like evolution. He would be pilloried and jeered — just as heretics like the Salem “witches” were in centuries past.
In contrast to most politicians today, who seem to think the answer to all America’s problems can be found in the wisdom of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, we think we ought to get the Bible out of our lawmaking. There’s some chance that Secular Humanists may indeed find themselves roasting in Hell for thinking such profane thoughts — and, based on the comments and conduct of fellows like Roy Moore, there’s no better place for us.