Monday, October 24, 2005

"In God We Trust?"

[Regardless of your views on religion, I think you would agree, it is a stablizing force that we still may need]

The battle goes on over how much God we want in our government; a battle that is just the beginning stages of a soon to be, all-out, cultural war. Once today's front page issues dealing with Iraq, Bush, and the dreaded, bird flu pandemic have subsided, the war over God—in or out—will rage on.

This isn't going away, so let's start gathering our facts and checking our powder!

"E Pluribus Unum" (Out of many, one), the original motto on the Great Seal of the United States and on many U.S. coins, was selected in 1776 by Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson for the Continental Congress.

"In God We Trust" was added later, 200 years later, as a national motto of the United States of America. It was so designated by an act of Congress in 1956, but did not supersede "E Pluribus Unum," which is still in frequent use.

The most common place where the motto is observed in daily life is on the money of the United States. The first United States coin to bear this national motto was the 1864 two-cent piece. It did not appear on paper money until the 1950's.

The word "God" in the Pledge of Allegiance first occurred in 1954 (more than sixty years after the pledge was originally published) when, by a joint order of Congress, the words "under God" were inserted. The change is usually ascribed to a cold-war attempt at differentiating the United States from officially atheistic Communist countries.

The word "God" does not appear in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution or anywhere else.

Brooke Allen's "Our Godless Constitution" (February 21, 2005)

Our nation was founded not on Christian principles but on Enlightenment ones. God only entered the picture as a very minor player, and Jesus Christ was conspicuously absent.

Our Constitution makes no mention whatever of God. The omission was too obvious to have been anything but deliberate, in spite of Alexander Hamilton's flippant responses when asked about it: According to one account, he said that the new nation was not in need of "foreign aid"; according to another, he simply said "we forgot." But as Hamilton's biographer Ron Chernow points out, Hamilton never forgot anything important.

The Founding Fathers were not religious men, and they fought hard to erect, in Thomas Jefferson's words, "a wall of separation between church and state." John Adams opined that if they were not restrained by legal measures, Puritans--the fundamentalists of their day--would "whip and crop, and pillory and roast."

—The Nation

So, depending on which side you line-up on, this war over God—in or out—may be one of the most cataclysmic or progressive, albeit eventful, times in U.S. history. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm "right on!" But to be on the safe side, I'm going to continue to gather my facts, maintain an open mind and "keep my powder dry."

Reporting from the underground...

Stan Morris


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