Today, Congress Will Vote to Reaffirm ‘In God We Trust’ As the American Motto

Today, the 112th Congress will be voting on one of the most important bills it could possibly consider. If approved, this bill will drastically improve the economy and job situation we’re currently fac—-wait, what? No? Strike all that.

H. Con. Res. 13 seeks to reaffirm “In God We Trust” as the official motto of the United States.

Begin *facepalming* now.

This is what Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) thinks is a good use of time.

Whereas John Adams said, ‘Statesmen may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand.’;

Whereas if religion and morality are taken out of the marketplace of ideas, the very freedom on which the United States was founded cannot be secured;

Whereas as President Eisenhower said and President Ford later repeated, ‘Without God, there could be no American form of government, nor, an American way of life.’; and

Whereas President John F. Kennedy said, ‘The guiding principle and prayer of this Nation has been, is now, and ever shall be ‘In God We Trust.’: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Congress reaffirms ‘In God We Trust’ as the official motto of the United States and supports and encourages the public display of the national motto in all public buildings, public schools, and other government institutions.

According to the Secular Coalition for America, this is a pointless bill that takes the focus off of what’s really important (and if you go to their site, you can let your own representatives know how you feel about that):

“In God We Trust” is already the official motto of the United States, and in raising this as an issue yet again, Republicans in the House are throwing a red herring to inflame culture wars and draw the focus off of fixing the economy.

The resolution, sponsored by Representative Randy Forbes (R-VA), does nothing more than waste precious time and money on symbolic religious issues that divide rather than unite Americans in a time of universal economic struggle.

Bingo. When Forbes isn’t being an obstructionist, he’s just wasting time.

House Judiciary Committee Democrats in their March dissent against the measure argued that the national motto “is not imperiled in any respect” and charged that the panel’s Republicans were “diverting the committee’s time, resources and attention to a measure that has no force of law, only reaffirms existing law and further injects the hand of government into the private religious lives of the American people.”

Interestingly enough, this is the same Republican-dominated House that passed new rules specifically to stop “symbolic and commemorative resolutions.”

Isn’t this just one of those symbolic gestures?

Asked Monday whether the “In God We Trust” resolution would be considered such a symbolic resolution, a spokesman for [House Majority Leader Eric] Cantor declined to comment.

So to those of you sitting around at home, jobless, because the economy is in the crapper, remember that our country trusts in god and I’m sure you’ll feel all better.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Tom

    That’s some grade-A rational justification they have for their position in that first quote (the one with all those damned “whereases” in it).  Aside from that “marketplace of ideas” thing, upon which the outcome of the bill will have no bearing whatsoever and therefore is entirely irrelevant and must have just been thrown in to bulk it out a bit, all they’ve got is “one guy said it then these other guys said it then someone else said it, so we’re going to keep saying it.”

    I, for one, am filled with confidence that such deep, astute thinkers are in charge.

    If you really want to see how pathetic this motto is, try and imagine what its opposite might be: “We fix our own problems.”

    • Anonymous

      If you really want to see how pathetic this motto is, try and imagine what its opposite might be: “We fix our own problems.”

      This!

  • http://twitter.com/catdumpling Cat MacKinnon

    “So to those of you sitting around at home, jobless, because the economy
    is in the crapper, remember that our country trusts in god and I’m sure
    you’ll feel all better.”

    this is EXACTLY why i HATE useless resolutions and add-on’s to bills/amendments/laws/etc. that have NOTHING TO DO with anything else the politicians are talking about that day! it takes away focus from the real issues that should be discussing (and we all know how easily distracted most politicians tend to be).

    in the interest of keeping your blog “family friendly”, i will refrain from posting the dozens of obscenities that i would like to scream at Mr. Forbes and others like him right now…although rest assured, they are flowing through my mind like the Potomac during monsoon season. (also, i just scared my cat with a vocal outburst).

  • Anonymous

    Is there any chance of the vote not winning?  What would happen if it lost?  Nothing, I bet.

    • Sware

      I’d like to think nothing, but my bet is it would be used as a tool for/ against certain individuals in the elections.  Just what we need…New McCarthyism.

    • Rich Wilson

      I strongly suspect that the impetus for this whole thing was Obama mistakenly mentioning that our motto was “e pluribus unum”

      Bachman and company were all over that.

      • Anonymous

        That would be a much better official motto. Unlike the god nonsense, it’s inclusive and uniting

      • http://www.facebook.com/d3st88 Morva Ádám

        And what a wonderful motto that was.
        “Out of many, one.”
        It’s perfection. I can’t imagine a better one. Overthrowing it for “In god we trust” was a tragedy indeed.

        • Xeon2000

          We couldn’t possibly go and let anyone mistaken us for one of those stinkin’ communists. /sarcasm

  • Ben Crockett

    Representative has been contacted.

    • http://madhominem.wordpress.com Mad Hominem

      Likewise. I told mine (Lee Terry, R-NE) that I was hoping his conservative values included opposition to government interventionism — in religious matters.

  • Erp

    One could even quote the Bible to them on this, Isaiah 1:13,16b-17


    13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
       Your incense is detestable to me.
    New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—
       I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.

     Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
       stop doing wrong.
    17 Learn to do right; seek justice.
       Defend the oppressed.
    Take up the cause of the fatherless;
       plead the case of the widow.

  • Anonymous

    I am glad to know we have representatives in government who hold
    our motto higher than those lesser issues like unemployment and the deficit. I
    am sure all those who are scraping by will be comforted to know they will
    continue to see our motto on court buildings and public squares since they won’t
    be able to see it on the money they can’t make.

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    But do we really want Republicans trying to fix things?  They don’t have a particularly good track record.  Maybe we should give them all shiny objects and tell them to play in the corner.  

    Then again it could always be worse.  They could be investigating the whole birther  issues…..

  • Anonymous

    But wait, God provides jobs and money to all those who ask. Or so the few evangelical I know say so.  Just pray and it will be given to you.

    This is such a waste of time for a congress who claims the other party is doing nothing for the people. 

  • Anonymous

    Even if by some impossible-against-the-odds probability, this vote loses and it isn’t the motto anymore, so what? America is still over run with overly religious nutters  who shove their opinions down your throat.
    This changes nothing.

    • Timothy

      I dont think that if this loses “In God We Trust” will no longer be our motto, this is just to remind people that it is.  Basically, religious people are getting worried cause we keep pointing out there stupidity, so now they have to remind us that they hold the power and can screw with us any way they please.

      • Anonymous

        True that Timothy. It is also an elaborate way of every person voting on this to reaffirm their faith publicly and for putting any agnostic/closet atheists in office in a tough spot. 
        In a country where non-believers are mistrusted and generally disliked, this is just another way to say “Hey, we are a country of believers. Just remember that the next time you buy groceries at the store with your money.”  We know that the motto is going to stay, so why even bother with all this? 

  • Hazor

    This is an appalling, immoral waste of time that could be spent on real problems. My representative has been contacted and I have conveyed this sentiment to him.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scott.j.jordan Scott James Jordan

    The current motto is just as unconstitutional as saying…

    “In God‘s Face We Thrust The Middle Finger.

    …even though I like that one better. ;)

  • Rich Wilson

    Almost totally completely unrelated, but George Takei is running a Halloween costume contest, and I think a lot of people here might appreciate one of the costumes.  Or several.
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.301386993224094.123729.205344452828349&type=1

  • Rich Wilson

    Hey, if reaffirming the motto, and encouraging the plastring thereof everywhere is good, then re-reaffirming must be better, right?  Let’s make it a daily ritual that Congress re-affirm the motto.  And the pledge.  Heck, if once a day is good, let’s do it FIVE, no, wait, we can do better, SIX TIMES PER DAY!!!

    Oh Soap Pope on a Rope. Just read the damn thing

    Whereas if religion and morality are taken out of the marketplace of ideas, the very freedom on which the United States was founded cannot be secured;

    Love to know how they intend to work on that ‘morality’ thing.

    I’m not writing to my reps, I’m calling them.

    • Gus Snarp

      This “whereas” is what pisses me off the most about this. The conclusion does not follow from the premise, and the premise is also false. Morality is uncorrelated with religion, no one is talking about taking religion, much less morality, out of the marketplace of ideas, a few of us would just like to see religion lose the government subsidies and protections that give it an unfair market advantage. In fact, I’d like to see a bit more morality from the religious right, beginning with stopping their crusade against teh gay and teh atheists. Yet our representatives are willing to sign off on this idiocy for fear of being though unfriendly to religion. Ugh.

      I didn’t bother calling my representative, because I don’t even have to check to see how he voted. He wouldn’t change his mind anyway. But I will write him just to get it on record.

  • http://www.bricewgilbert.blogspot.com Brice Gilbert

    Official government sanction is now the marketplace of ideas? Hmmm…

  • nesh

    The more I hear about this ridiculous country, the more I shake my head. Religion is just so silly; the more religious the country, the less progressive it seems to be there.
    Therefore, I have a new motto: Land of the Free – except for Religion, in which we still are bound.

  • http://twitter.com/butterflyfish_ Heidi McClure

    I already sent the letter from the SCA site, but I have yet to see my rep (John Olver) vote differently than I would want him to vote. He’s never going to go along with this. Unfortunately, he’s retiring after this term. *cry*

  • SJH

    I think that this gesture is somewhere between being symbolic and a being call-to-action. By re-articulating this as a nation we are calling attention to it and implying that we must regroup and assess our current condition and change things in our nation that are moving us away from this motto.
    I don’t question their intentions but I do question the adequacy of it. I don’t think anyone is paying attention enough to notice this. I certainly would not have heard about it but for this posting. If no one notices it then there is no point to it and it is probably a waste of time.
    Though, how much time did it really take? I wonder if it were something that consumed a few minutes or was it something that took a lot of time?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Teufel-Wolf/100001892346180 Teufel Wolf

    I just called my Congress-woman’s  office (Karen Bass CA D-33). The staffer (Shannon) who answered the phone said “She is not likely to vote for that.” Yays!

    • benjdm
      • Gus Snarp

        Classic. Principles mean nothing in the face of appearing not to support religious hogwash.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Teufel-Wolf/100001892346180 Teufel Wolf

        Saw that… I will remember her betrayal come election time.

  • isherwood

    My rep is Michele Bachmann. Egads. I wrote nonetheless. 

    • Cobo Wowbo

      I feel sorry for you.

  • Cobo Wowbo

    My representative has been contacted and I have conveyed this sentiment to him also. 

  • Rich Wilson

    ok, my letter to Tom McClintock (R) CA

    I am concerned over H. CON. RES. 13 – Reaffirming “In God We Trust” as the official motto of the United States.At first blush I saw this as a useless time wasting ceremonial procedure that everyone complains about, but never seems to stop.  IGWT is already our motto, and it’s obviously not about to change.  But there are worse things Congress could do while not dealing with real issues.  Or so I thought until I read the text.  I have a number of problems, but let me just focus on the big one:”Whereas if religion and morality are taken out of the marketplace of ideas, the very freedom on which the United States was founded cannot be secured;”First of all, I don’t think it’s a given that our freedoms are dependent on religion.  In fact, looking at some of the most religious nations in the world, I’m certain that religious faith is no guarantee of freedom.  But what really concerns me as an atheist is “religion AND morality”.  The motto reflects religious faith, not morality.  The implication I read is that religion and morality go hand in hand, and that as a person without religious faith, I am lacking morality.I can assure you that other than perhaps working on the Sabbath, or taking the Lord’s name in vain, or the sex of consenting adults who wish to marry, my morals largely reflect those of the Congressman.  I return lost items, I rarely break the speed limit, I invite people with two items to cut ahead of me at the grocery store, and I don’t kill people.The question I would like answered then is: Does the Congressman believe that religious faith is either a requirement for, or any guarantee of morality?

    And I asked for a response.  I know- I was going to call, but every time I started to dial, my adrenalin spiked.  I can’t form a coherent thought when I’m like that.

    • Rich Wilson

      Here’s a PDF report, along with dissenting views. http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CRPT-112hrpt47/pdf/CRPT-112hrpt47.pdf

    • Rich Wilson

      I got my reply from Congressman McClintock:

      Dear Mr. Wilson: 

      Thank you for writing to share your support for the “In God We Trust” resolution (H.Con.Res 13). 

      I voted in support of this bill when it passed the House on November 1, 2011.  This resolution reminds us of one of the main tenets of the Declaration of Independence: that individuals’ equality and rights are “endowed by their Creator.”  This idea – that rights come from our Creator, not from a king or a government – is central to our nation’s founding and critical to protecting our liberty.  Indeed, history teaches us that the quickest way to tyranny is to subscribe to the idea that rights are granted by the government and should be rationed out by bureaucrats to the people.  This resolution is an important reminder of this critical fact. 

      Thank you once again for writing.  I look forward to hearing from you in the future.Sincerely,

      Tom

      Whereas he didn’t actually answer my question, be it resolved that I will no longer ask an elected official a direct question, since that just leaves the door open for them to ignore it.  In the future I will simply make an open statement, and leave the ball in their court to refute if they wish.  So at this point I’m assuming the answer to “Does the Congressman believe that religious faith is either a requirement for, or any guarantee of morality?” is yes.

      I don’t have a problem with the belief that rights are endowed by a Creator.  My concern is that some government is going to be interpreting those rights.  As in, owning slaves was once a right endowed by our creator.

      • Rich Wilson

        For anyone still following, I finally replied:

        Thank you for your reply Congressman
        I appreciate you taking the time to reply.

        Although I’m disappointed, but not surprised that you didn’t address my actual question, I take comfort in knowing that even if 80-90% of the population believe we are ‘under God’, I also think that 100% of us would agree that so long as we have a “government of the people, by the people, for the people” we can trust that government to override such Creator granted rights as slavery (Exodus 21:7) and wives as spoils of war (Deuteronomy 21:11).  And that government can grant us the right to reasonable force in the self defense of ourselves and our loved ones, despite what a Creator says (Mathew 5:39).  Good thing too, since that’s just one Creator, out of untold hundreds.

  • vlk4

    Stuff like this makes me think of this:
    http://video.adultswim.com/moral-orel/pledge-of-allegiance.html
    Comes from one of the best shows I have ever seen. If anyone else here has time to watch it, it’s really worth it.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/ChristopherTK ChristopherTK

    In God We Trust, While Our Foolishness Wastes.

    Here are two recent responses from my leadership.


    Thank you for contacting me to voice your opposition to H.Con.Res.
    13. I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this issue and apologize for
    any delay in my response.

     

    H.Con.Res. 13 seeks to reaffirm “In God We Trust” as the official
    motto of the United States. The resolution would encourage but not
    require the motto to be displayed in public buildings and schools.
    Currently, H.Con.Res. 13 has been referred to the House Committee on
    the Judiciary for further consideration. Should this resolution come
    before the full House of Representatives for a vote, I will be certain
    to keep your opposition in mind.

     

    Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this issue and please
    do not hesitate to contact me in the future regarding this or any
    other matter of concern. Additionally, I invite you to visit my
    website at http://www.lipinski.house.gov or my
    Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/repdanlipinski
    to learn more about my work at home and in Washington.

     

    Sincerely,

     

    DANIEL W. LIPINSKIMember of CongressAnd
    “Thank you for taking the time to contact me to share your concerns
    regarding religious freedom. By hearing your thoughts and concerns on
    the issues, I am better able to represent you in Congress.

     

    In the United States, freedom of religion is guaranteed under the
    First Amendment of the Constitution and applied to the states through
    the Fourteenth Amendment. These amendments protect every American from
    persecution on the basis of his or her religious beliefs or
    expression. This fundamental freedom and accompanying right of
    conscience are cornerstones of our American democracy, distinguishing
    us from nations that have not chosen to protect these freedoms under
    their laws.

     

    The Supreme Court, through constitutional interpretation of the
    First Amendment, coined the term “religion clauses” to
    refer to the part of the amendment that reads: “(1) Congress shall
    make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or (2) abridging
    the free exercise thereof.” The Establishment Clause prohibits
    the establishment of a national religion or government preference
    toward one particular religion over another. The Free Exercise Clause
    protects the right of all Americans to worship as we see fit under the
    law.

     

    Based on Supreme Court precedents, Congress must ensure that any
    legislation relating to religious practice or expression does not
    abridge our sacred freedom of religion. Should legislation related to
    religious freedom reach the floor of the House for a vote, be assured
    that I will keep your views in mind.

     

    Again, thank you for contacting me. It is an honor to represent you
    in the U.S. House of Representatives. Please do not hesitate to
    contact me if my office can be of assistance to you on any issue of
    importance.

     

    Sincerely,

    Adam Kinzinger Member of Congress

     

    P.S. For more information about my work in Congress, please visit
    http://www.kinzinger.house.gov and feel free to sign up to receive updates
    through my email newsletters.”
     

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/DJRVGKGG36KNLNMZAVT4EXOF3M Ed-words

    Will they ever  have the power to get what they really want?

    In Jesus We Trust.

  • Rich Wilson

    And the vote:
    Yea: 396
    Nay: 9
    Present: 2
    NV: 26

     http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2011/roll816.xml

    Maybe that will help us narrow down the closet atheists?

    Edit: btw

    I just called my Congress-woman’s office (Karen Bass CA D-33). The staffer (Shannon) who answered the phone said “She is not likely to vote for that.” Yays!

    Unfortunately, it was ‘Yea’

    I already sent the letter from the SCA site, but I have yet to see my rep (John Olver) vote differently than I would want him to vote. He’s never going to go along with this. Unfortunately, he’s retiring after this term. *cry*

    Sorry, he was also ‘Yea’.

    and for the stunner

    My rep is Michele Bachmann. Egads. I wrote nonetheless.

    Bachmann was a no vote. Obviously she knew it was in the bag, but still, can you imagine an attack ad based on her failure to support our great Christian heritage?

    • Gus Snarp

      I know this is what you meant, but to clarify for others, when he says Bachmann was a “no vote” it means she didn’t show up for the vote, not that she voted no.

      My rep. voted “yes”, as I expected. Even for the two short years that I had a Democratic representative, that one would have voted “yes” too. The roll call is a real eye opener. Read it and weep folks. Even Kucinich voted yes (I told you he wasn’t one of the closet atheists). As far as I’m concerned the only people in congress with a scrap of integrity and courage are to be found among this list:

      AckermanAmashChu
      CleaverHondaJohnson (GA)
      NadlerScott (VA)Stark

      Those are the NAYs.

      Maybe if we extended the House term to 4 or 6 years we wouldn’t have representatives who did nothing but campaign year round and they could actually cast votes based on principles and policies rather than thinking about the election right around the corner. We could still stagger the votes so that a third of congress was up for re-election every two years. That term is really an anachronism that is non functional in the modern world.

      • Gus Snarp

        Crap, that list didn’t come out right at all. You can figure it out, you’re all smart folks.

      • Rich Wilson

        Thanks.  It was late, I should have put ‘no vote’ in quotes.  I was born in the US, but lived most of my life in Canada, so I have divided loyalties, and am sometimes surprised by what gets me verklempt.  But as I said on FB last night:

        “I’ve never felt less American.”

  • http://lostinthotphotoblog.wordpress.com EvilPoet

    “President Theodore Roosevelt wrote a letter in 1907 explaining the logic behind leaving “In God We Trust” off a $10 gold coin. “To put such a motto on coins,” Roosevelt wrote, “or to use it in any kindred manner, not only does no good but does positive harm, and is in effect irreverence, which comes dangerously close to sacrilege.” Source: The New York Times
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/02/us/house-of-representatives-affirms-in-god-we-trust-motto.html


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