Opinion: "Our Motto Risks Becoming 'Over God We Fight'" by Charles Haynes

July 20, 2006

Source: North County Gazette


On July 20, 2006 North County Gazette published an opinion piece by Charles Haynes, a senior scholar at the First Amendment Center: "Lest we forget, our first national motto (adopted by the Founders in 1782) was E pluribus unum - out of many, one. But look around America these days and you'll see plenty of 'pluribus' but very little 'unum.' Divided and angry, many Americans are spoiling for a fight. Even something as innocuous as the 50th anniversary of our second national motto, 'In God We Trust,' is an occasion for culture warring on all sides. When adopted by Congress on July 30, 1956, 'In God We Trust' was intended to unite the nation against the scourge of 'godless communism.' But in an era of exploding religious diversity (including growing numbers of people with no religious preference), expressions of national unity sound like nostalgia for the '50s. The 'In God We Trust' anniversary is viewed as a godsend by culture warriors on one side. Long frustrated by what they see as the removal of God from public life (and dedicated to restoration of a 'Christian America'), some conservative Christian groups are using the anniversary to persuade city councils across the nation to post the motto in council chambers... At times like this, political leaders who don't think God has been chased out of public life (or schools) - and who don't want government involved in religion - are reluctant to speak out against appropriating 'In God We Trust' as a culture-war weapon."

See also: Christianity, Civic