"In God we Trust." This is the official motto of the United States. Politicians--apparently afraid that God will forget that we have already adopted this motto--periodically vote to reaffirm it.
Is it "constitutional" to have such a motto? Probably not. It does rather pointedly appear to promote a religion of sorts, but the religion it promotes is not clear. Is it Christianity? I'm sure that's what most politicians would have us believe, and that was obviously the intent of the cold warriors who made it ubiquitous on our money. But as in all matters of religion, we can believe what we want. We can fill in the blanks as we prefer, just as the owner of the personalized license plate above has done. I suppose it establishes the "religion" of "there is a god," as opposed to the philosophical position that there isn't one. That's probably enough that fair-minded people would find that it's a violation of the First Amendment. But if it is unconstitutional, it is among the least offensive breaches of the promises we made to ourselves when we adopted the Bill of Rights. Far more important are some of the other provisions of the Bill of Rights, provisions that actually make a difference in our lives. The old Latin rule of law, de minimis non curat lex means "the law does not concern itself with trifles." The appearance of this slogan on our currency may annoy some, but little more. It's no skin off anyone's nose. I really doubt anyone has standing to challenge the waste of ink to place this slogan on our bills, or the waste of metal involved in putting it on our coins.
So what is this blog post all about? I usually use these blog posts to complain about something. My complaint about our official motto isn't that it's unconstitutional. My complaint is that it's a ridiculous lie.
A nation that "trusts" in God doesn't need to lock up more of its citizens per capita than any other country in the world. A nation that trusts in God doesn't need to spend more on its military than everyone else in the world combined. A nation that trusts in God doesn't need to spy on its citizens and vigorously prosecute anyone who discloses its misconduct to the world. A nation that trusts in God doesn't need to disarm its citizens, all the while equipping its police forces with the most deadly and modern of weapons. A nation that trusts in God doesn't need to create a "Berlin Wall" separating itself from its southern neighbor. No, these actions are the actions of a nation that should have as its motto, "In Might we Trust."
And what if the "God" we pretend to trust in is the Christian God? A nation that trusted in the Christian God wouldn't allow some of its people to go homeless and hungry. We have homeless and hungry people in this country, many of them children. A Christian nation would not just shake its head and pity the homeless. It would do something about it. A nation as rich as this one is need not and should not tolerate homelessness and hunger anywhere within its borders. We should not tolerate people dying for want of medical care, if we really trust in the Christian God.
A nation that trusted in the Christian God would not tolerate for a moment the waste of human potential caused by an inadequate investment in education. A nation that trusted in the Christian God would not tolerate for a moment our requiring our young people to go into ruinous debt just to get a higher education. And the hallmark of a criminal justice system among a people who trusted in the Christian God would be mercy and the sure confidence that every human being is redeemable, not the merciless and draconian criminal justice system we have allowed to dominate our nation.
So I think we need a new motto. That's not because our current one would raise the eyebrows of our founding fathers who created what was, at the time, the most secular government on the face of the earth. That's because our current motto is a self-congratulatory falsehood. We don't trust in God. We trust in guns, dollars, and vengeance. It's time to acknowledge it or start living up to the promise of our sl
O. Will Laquelle
Busy practicing law. Specialize in Motions for Extension of time.