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In God We Trust

New Page -- 4 July 2005

 

A "Soapbox" article on the subject, written by a former candidate for the United States Congress (2000 elections), is included below as originally presented. In more recent times when stones and plagues advocating an adherance to the Ten Commandments are being routinely displayed by fanatical politicians, it seems appropriate to return to this article and consider it again. (It likely had little or no effect on the election. Sigh.)

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There has been considerable discussion about encouraging public schools and other public buildings to post the phrase, "In God We Trust". There has even been an ill-conceived congressional resolution for the same purpose -- one which, hopefully, will quietly fade away in the Judiciary Committee and never see the light of day. But don't count on it. Religious fanatics tend not to take no for an answer.

While "In God We Trust" is certainly part of our nation's heritage, resolutions encouraging its appearance on public buildings or in our public schools are nevertheless a form of government promotion of religion.

And yet our constitution wisely requires a separation of church and state. Any resolution in Congress which "encourages" the posting of "In God We Trust" clearly violates one of our most cherished freedoms: the inalienable right to worship without any undue influence by government. Inasmuch as the members of Congress have taken an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the united States, it is highly questionable that such a resolution should ever have been submitted to Congress -- much less given the potential power of a Congressional stamp of approval.

This is not about whether or not the phrase, "In God We Trust", is part of our heritage. It is. In fact, it might be safe to say that the majority of Americans believe in a set of principles in which the phrase would be wholly appropriate as an expression of those principles. At the same time, there are other, equally patriotic Americans who do not consider this traditional phrase to be something which they would like to see posted on buildings -- buildings which belong to all of us.

While I personally find nothing objectionable about "In God We Trust", I fully respect the rights and freedoms of others to think and act otherwise. I strongly believe that it is neither my right to impose my views on others, nor to have them impose their ideas on me. I can respect their right to hold such opinions, even when I disagree with them. As Voltaire is reputed to have said (and I'm paraphrasing), "I may not agree with what you're saying, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

The united States of America is, in my opinion, the greatest country in the world. I believe it enjoys this position in large part because of its magnificent diversity. There are so many varied and marvelous "pursuits of happiness," and these differences have made us the most vibrant and individually creative nation on the planet. Very importantly, religions are part of the diversity which is practiced throughout the land -- including those who do not recognize a "God" or supreme being. Those individuals have the same right as the rest of us: to not have their government encourage a particular religious viewpoint.

There are many common threads that underlie almost all of our spiritual or religious beliefs. One of the most notable is the so-called "Golden Rule", i. e. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." This phrase, or words which say essentially the same thing, appear in virtually any religion or spiritual discipline one might care to name. This recognition of a common principle, however, does not necessarily include a reference to a supreme being. We may agree in so many ways about how we conduct our lives, but we have the right to our personal spiritual beliefs.

It's been said that as long as there are tests in school, there will be prayer in those schools. The key is that the prayer should not be imposed by an authority on the students. Similarly it is imperative that "In God We Trust" not be imposed by displaying it on public buildings. It's perfectly okay for anyone who wishes to do so, to stand outside the same building holding a placard which says "In God We Trust." I can respect that individual's right of free speech, but I can not respect the authorities or a government which resolves to push the agenda of people who wish to impose their views on others.

The essence of America is that it's all about choices. Those who decide to place their trust in God, I applaud. Those who follow other spiritual concepts, I applaud as well. But I object strenuously to anyone who wishes to utilize our common government held properties in order to promote their beliefs. I would suggest instead, that they adhere to the Golden Rule and do unto others -- i e. respect their views -- as they would have others do unto them -- respect their views in return.

 

Free Speech         9-11-2001       Justice, Order, and Law

State of the Union Conservative Politics and/or The Perils of Democracy

Or forward to:

Digital Piracy         Shredding the Magna Carta         Enemy Combatants

Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows         Buy One, Get One Free

Ask Not What Your Country Can Do for You

Oil Wars         Bush Wars         War Wars        Nature of Law

 

               

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