haven't read my first article on
Separation of Church and State, I would suggest you read that
one before you read this. After publishing that article, I realized
that one of the things I didn't address in that article was the
phrase "In God We Trust" on our money and "Under
God" in our Pledge of Allegiance. As you probably know, these
are both hotly debated issues in the ongoing debate over Separation
of Church and State.
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting
the free exercise thereof"
Those are the famous
words of the First Amendment which address the "Separation
of Church and State". You will remember from my first article
that the phrase "Separation of Church and State" is
not in any government documents, but is actually from a personal
letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Baptist Association of Danbury,
Connecticut in 1802. So "Separation of Church and State"
per se, has no legal weight, only the wording of the First Amendment
So if the Congress
can't respect any establishment of religion, how can they print
"In God We Trust" on our money? Isn't that a respect
of religious establishment? The answer is no. Why? The answer
is easy. Tell me which religious establishment the phrase "In
God We Trust" favors. Does it favor the Baptists? The Catholics?
Methodists? Mormons? Episcopals? Jehovah's Witnesses? Hindus?
Jews? Muslims? The answer is that it favors all of those. The
First Amendment says that Congress can't pass a law respecting
"an" establishment of religion. "In God We Trust"
doesn't respect "an" establishment of religion, it respects
almost all of them.
One exception, one
might argue, is that "In God We Trust" dis-respects
another establishment of religion - atheism. My response to that
is that atheism is not an establishment of religion, it's actually
absence of religion. Webster's defines religion as a "ritual
observance of faith". Since atheism is absence of faith,
it is also absence of religion. Religion requires a being to worship,
atheism worships no one. You might be interested to know that
almost all Communist societies are atheistic societies, which
further establishes the fact that atheism is absence of religion.
The phrase "In
God We Trust" went through several drafts and modifications
before it ever went to print in 1864. I won't bore you with all
the history, but I did find a very interesting quote from Salmon
P. Chase, United States Secretary of the Treasury, in 1861. This
is what he instructed to James Pollock, Director of the Philadelphia
"Dear Sir: No
nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or safe
except in His defense. The trust of our people in God should
be declared on our national coins.
You will cause a
device to be prepared without unnecessary delay with a motto
expressing in the fewest and tersest words possible this national
Wow! What an awesome
sentiment. Chase realized, as did many of the founding fathers
almost a century before him, that our safety and strength as a
nation are in God. As Psalm 33:12 says, "Blessed is the nation
whose God is the Lord."
In 1956, President
Eisenhower decided to adopt the phrase "In God We Trust"
as our National Motto. It was under this same President that the
words "Under God" were added to the Pledge of Allegiance.
Again, do either of these respect an establishment of religion?
Not unless you can tell me which one establishment they respect.
As I said in my previous
article, the "Wall of Separation" between Church and
State that Jefferson mentioned in his letter to the Danbury Baptists
doesn't protect the State from Church intervention. It prevents
the Church from State intervention. Perhaps one of you out there
in internet-land can tell me how an acknowledgment of God in our
Pledge, our National Motto, and our money is harmful to decent
society - especially when over 90% of society believes in a higher
Being of some sort. The answer is that it's not harmful.
I think it's also
important to realize that one of the reasons that Eisenhower was
prompted to adopt "In God We Trust" as a National Motto
and add "Under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance was
partially to set us apart from our atheistic Communist opponents.
He had heard a sermon in which a preacher compared our previous
pledge to that of the Soviet pledge. During the Cold War, that
was a harsh comparison. Eisenhower understood the same thing that
Thomas Jefferson once stated, "Among the most inestimable
of our blessings is that...of liberty to worship our Creator in
the way we think most agreeable to His will; a liberty deemed
in other countries incompatible with good government and
yet proved by our experience to be its best support."
There is also evidence
that Eisenhower had some sort of encounter with God during this
time in his life. Twelve days after his inauguration, he was baptized,
confirmed, and took part in communion in the Presbyterian Church.
He was the only President who was baptized and confirmed while
in office. The fact that he had grown up in a family of Jehovah's
Witnesses, yet became and remained a member of the Presbyterian
Church in his later years points to some change in his life. He
likely came to an understanding of the importance of acknowledging
God in our country. In both of his inaugurations, he swore his
oath on an open Bible, not a closed one. During his first inauguration,
it was open to Psalm 33:12. In the second inauguration, it was
open to 2 Chronicles 7:14. And of course, this too is not an infringement
of the First Amendment, either.
Finally, perhaps you
feel that government sanction of the mention of God is wrong and
illegal in any way, shape, or form. If that's so, then we are
not a nation. Because our Declaration of Independence mentions
how "the laws of Nature, and Nature's God" entitle us
to freedom from tyranny; how our "Creator" has endued
us with unalienable rights such as life, liberty, and the pursuit
of happiness; and how they appealed to the "Supreme Judge
of the world" for their right to be free and independent.
If mention of God is illegal, then the Declaration of Independence
is null and void, and we are not, nor have we ever been, an independent