From the Washington Post, On Faith blog…do we only trust in God when it’s politically (or pastorally!?) convenient?
‘In God we trust,’ when politically convenient
The House of Representatives on Tuesday voted in favor of a Congressional resolution reaffirming “In God We Trust” as the national motto and supporting its placement on public buildings, public schools, and other government institutions. This House Concurrent Resolution 13, which passed by a vote of 396 to 9, with 2 voting present, was sponsored by Representative Randy Forbes (R-Va.). He added, “As our nation faces challenging times, it is appropriate for Members of Congress and our nation – like our predecessors – to firmly declare our trust in God, believing that it will sustain us for generations to come.”
What Forbes and many other Americans fail to recognize or acknowledge is that “In God We Trust” only became our official motto in 1956, at the height of the Cold War and the McCarthy witch-hunt for communists, as a means to separate us from godless communism. The de facto motto established by our founders had been E Pluribus Unum, which is Latin for “out of many, one.” We are a diverse population, and this phrase confirms American diversity as our source of strength. We are one nation made up of people from many lands, and people of many faiths and none. Similarly, during the McCarthy era, the words “under God” were added to our inclusive “one nation, indivisible” Pledge of Allegiance.
Such sectarian religious propaganda fails to unite us. The phrase “In God We Trust” does not apply to more than 16 percent of Americans who identify as atheist, agnostic, humanist, nonreligious, or unaffiliated. There are millions of good Americans who simply do not believe in a deity, let alone trust one. Branding our secular country with a religious motto only creates division among its citizens and erodes the wall of separation between church and state. Our secular government should neither impose a religious motto on its citizens nor give an official stamp of approval to a particular religious worldview.