May 8, 2000
11:50 AM   Subscribe

Is it me, or does this smack of hypocrisy? I mean, on our money are the words "In God We Trust." And when about to give testimony in court, we swear on the bible. I think some judges need to get their heads out of their a$$es.
posted by da5id (15 comments total)
While I'm not sure what I think of the judge's ruling, I have to point out that it's perfectly possible to testify in court without swearing on the Bible. One time I swore under penalty of perjury, since I'm an atheist.
posted by mrmorgan at 11:56 AM on May 8, 2000

This was an interesting tidbit from an earlier thread.

Bummer that the new US coins still have "in god we trust", although it's a lot smaller on the new quarters.

I suppose even though we have a separation of church and state, and the freedom of religion, the US was settled by religious types, so we still carry that baggage with us to this day.
posted by mathowie at 12:19 PM on May 8, 2000

I think the lawsuit raises important questions about the appropriateness of the "In God we trust" motto and all other references to a Christian God in our 'government culture,' for lack of a better term. Unfortunately, the lawsuit is only prompting suggestions that the Ohio state motto be changed to "In God we trust," rather than a deeper reflection on how we want to treat religion in government.
posted by owen at 1:03 PM on May 8, 2000

I really don't want my government "trusting in God". This has no value to me. I know it means a lot to some people, and if it gives them strength, I'm fine with that. But I don't think it has any place in government. Just because it's been that way in the past doesn't mean we need to continue perpitrating it.

"With God, all things are possible" This just strikes me as silly. What's the point? Even if I was religious, I don't think this would give me any comfort in my government.

On the other hand it really doesn't bother me. I've been tolerating this sort of religeous patronizing all my life. I'm sort of use to it. And it seems to make a lot of people happy. I can live with that.
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:31 PM on May 8, 2000

I don't think I made my point there.

What I was trying to say was that having "In God we trust" on our money or in our motto was the only part that seems like hypocrisy.
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:33 PM on May 8, 2000

The "In God We Trust" motto barely earns the historical legitimacy it claims. According to the US Treasury, it was first added to coinage during the Civil War, and used on coins and paper money inconsistently for nearly a century, until Congress proclaimed it the national motto in 1956. It was only used on paper money beginning in 1957.

An atheist organization attempted to sue to remove it, but the Supreme Court declined to hear the case in 1996.

The Pledge of Allegiance was also secular until 1954, when Congress modified it to include the words "under God". I generally choose to stay silent during those two words, even though I am a practicing Christian (render unto Caesar and all that).
posted by dhartung at 3:09 PM on May 8, 2000

Do you really think that someone will be converted suddenly whilst handling money, or casually glancing at a state's seal?

If this was concerning a hidden message in a Disney movie I would wager the majority opinion would be "get over it, who cares"
posted by Mick at 4:35 PM on May 8, 2000

Maybe the motto should read "In Budda/Allah/Allen Greenspan we trust" or have nothing on the money. Totally eliminate the face of the Presidents. After all where are the Women, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and countless others. Sure Susan B. Anthony and the new coin represents them but if we are to eliminate the religious sayings, lets just make it a faceless, metalic, cinder disc and truly "Monopoly" money.
While we are at it eliminate Mount Rushmore, the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and all other offensive reminders of anything before the 1960's.

>>I really don't want my government "trusting in God".

I have to question what "my government" is? I certainly don't want my government doing a lot of things too. However, at last check we still hold elections to send people to represent us, even though a great majority of politicians don't stick to the issues that won them election. Fine, if you don't want government trusting in God, elect someone who has no trust or does not trust in God.
posted by brent at 5:06 PM on May 8, 2000

>Maybe the motto should read "In Budda/Allah/Allen
> Greenspan we trust"

uh, no, this is a country with a separation of church and state, so it shouldn't say anything about a deity on our money.

> Fine, if you don't want government trusting in God,
> elect someone who has no trust or does not trust
> in God.

I thought we lived in a country where this wasn't supposed to be an issue, again church and state are supposed to be completely separate, so this shouldn't be an issue with elected officials.
posted by mathowie at 5:53 PM on May 8, 2000

It should be "In Cod We Trust", though that may offend non-fish-eaters.
posted by holgate at 7:59 PM on May 8, 2000

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

This does not mean that the concept of a god can not be mentioned while conducting affairs of state.

I believe the founders intention was that no law would prohibit (as opposed to promote) a certain view.

And what about the fact that the goverment is the people, then we MUST all be atheists. At least according to the popular interpretation of the amendment.

posted by Mick at 9:24 PM on May 8, 2000

Another point, the bill of rights states the "Congress shall pass no law"

The tenth amendment states:
"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people. "

So could the state then pass such a law?

posted by Mick at 9:29 PM on May 8, 2000

It's almost as much fun being an atheist in America as it was being a Buddhist.

I'm of the opinion that the words on a state motto are a very small matter, particularly because I see Mick's last point. If I don't want my state to promote such a thing, I will deal with it next election. Fortunately, I live in a state where our constitution has the same protections as the Consitution itself.

And I hate to say it, Mick, but at the federal level yes, we all are atheists, in the sense of "non-theists." The feds are legally bound to be neutral about religion. We recently had a city council tell a church they couldn't build on their own property, and the church is appealing. Why? Because our state constitution mirrors the Constitution. A lawyer quoted in the paper mentioned a three-part test: cannot promote, cannot interfere, and cannot entangle.

"In God all things are possible" could be seen as government promotion of religion, so it fails the first test.

Now, somebody who's an actual lawyer sit back and eviscerate my logic. . . . .
posted by mrmorgan at 10:38 PM on May 8, 2000

Oh, sure, and I left out the rest of the story about the church: the council would only agree to the construction with a bunch of restrictions, like "no weddings." Smelled like "interfere" to me.
posted by mrmorgan at 10:39 PM on May 8, 2000

Please don't buy into the fundie argument that secularism is the same as atheism. They aren't nearly comparable.

States are bound to constitutionality in their own affairs under the Fourteenth Amendment (equal protection under the laws). Certain states did silently retain established religions until 1940, when the Court overturned a Connecticut law.

(The first half of that link seems to be accurate, the second half becomes a screed against secular humanism.)
posted by dhartung at 8:41 AM on May 9, 2000

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