Trying to Get God Off the Money… in Brazil

Since 1986, Brazilian paper money has included the phrase “Deus Seja Louvado” (roughly “God be praised”):

Now, Jefferson Aparecido Dias is trying to get the phrase off the currency:

“The fact that most Brazilians are Christian does not justify the “violation of the fundamental rights of those that follow different religions or do not believe in God,” Dias said in the motion he filed with the court.

The Assembly of God Church, one of the largest evangelical denominations in Brazil, opposed the motion.

“God must be praised all the times and everywhere,” said church official Tilza Feliciano.

That last thought is just frightening… it makes you wonder if godly phrases also appear on credit cards and toilet paper.

Dias does a nice job of making his point, though. Check out how he explains the problem with the phrase in the actual lawsuit (PDF):

To make his case that the phrase was inappropriate, he asked the court to consider the reaction of Christians if the nation’s currency included calls to worship figures revered by Muslims, Buddhists, observers of Candomblé or Hindus — or a statement endorsing atheism. “Let’s imagine if the real note had any of these phrases on it: ‘Praise Allah,’ ‘Praise Buddha,’ ‘Hail Oxossi,’ ‘Hail Lord Ganesh’ or ‘God does not exist,’ ” he said.

No doubt there would be an uproar if any of those things happened. But when it’s referring to the Christian deity, everyone acts like it’s perfectly normal… and it turns out the religious leaders in Britain make the same arguments to keep godly phrases on the money that we hear in the U.S.

[Cardinal Odilo Scherer] also said in a statement: “The phrase should make no difference to those who do not believe in God. But it is meaningful for all those who do believe in God…”

It does matter to us, of course. Brazil, like the U.S., is a secular nation. Promotion of one religion over another or religion over non-religion isn’t an issue the government should be taking sides on. Dias is just taking a stand for the law instead of letting religious groups get off the hook with their abuse of privilege.

Best of luck to Dias in what is surely an uphill battle.

If only there was a way to chip in to help Dias cover his legal costs. For all we know, this battle could cost him a brazilian dollars. (You’re welcome.)

(Thanks to Keith for the link!)

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