Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Responding to, "In God We Trust" defense.

There is an editorial (In God - and Democracy - We Trust that defends the posting of "In God We Trust" in public buildings.

I thought it deserved a response.

I would suggest that others respond as well.


A national motto of “In God We Trust” simply means one thing.

It means that the most important doctrine governing the United States – the principle that is so important that we elevate it to the top spot – is the idea that the population is to be divided between a “we” who “trust in God”, and a “they” who do not.

It is a motto of exclusion – of segregation – that says that certain people (those who do not trust in God) do not belong here. “We may tolerate their presence, but we certainly do not want them to get the idea that they are welcome. Only those who trust in God are welcome. Only those who trust in God are ‘we’”.

Indeed, this was why “In God We Trust” was adopted as a national motto in 1956. It was the McCarthy era, when “the enemy” was those ‘atheist communists’. We certainly do not want those ‘atheist communists’ to feel welcome over here, so we (the Congress of the United States) adopt the motto “In God We Trust” specifically for the purpose of making this subgroup feel excluded.

Only, the motto targets not only atheist communists, but all atheists.

It does not matter how popular such a sign may be. What matters is whether the sign says something that people should be proud of. We can well imagine a community that is 85% white voting to put a sign that says “White Power” in City Hall. (A sign that is not in any way qualitatively different than one that says, “Power to those who believe in God” or “In God We Trust”), its popularity does not make it right.

Alonzo Fyfe
Atheist Ethicist

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