Recently, by a vote of 396-9, about the most ungodly yet still legal institution in America – The US House of Representatives – reaffirmed that our national motto is “In God We Trust.”
For a bunch of blasphemous GOP apostates to be leading such a cause is both deceptive and absurd – almost as bad as the claim of several GOP presidential candidates that God wanted them in the race. Since, in aggregate, these purportedly chosen people managed to get less than 40% in the polls this was at best a sign that the Father Almighty had better stick to theology.
But beyond that, the reaffirmation of the national motto is a reminder of how little we care about the separation of church and state. Even the Ninth Circuit in 1970 issued a thoroughly deceitful ruling that “It is quite obvious that the national motto and the slogan on coinage and currency ‘In God We Trust’ has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion. Its use is of patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no true resemblance to a governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise.”
Of course, courts don’t care much about history, unless it’s legal history they’re trained to misinterpret, so the actual origins of the phrase as a government act – other than as the motto of that citadel of democracy, Florida – is not generally known.
The perp was Lincoln’s treasury secretary, Salmon P. Chase, who wrote the director of the Mint:
“No nation can be strong unless it is a Christian nation. We refuse to be secular; separation of church and state does not exist. The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins.”
Chase got his way and thus we have had our coins and law besmudged by this political hypocrisy ever since.
Even if we must blur the separation of church and state, at the very least the House would be better advised to choose as its own motto the words from Matthew: “You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.” Note that the operable word is “fulfill” and not “reaffirm.”