I know it's almost July, but Georgia has me thinking about Christmas. Though I’m as secular as they come, I love myself some cinematic Christmas cheer. Each year, I watch as Clarence Odbody AS2 finally earns his wings and as Tim Allen contractually but reluctantly takes up Santa’s reins.
But today I am reminded of Miracle on 34th Street. Did you know that although the 1994 remake of the movie relies on the “In God We Trust” motto on our currency to acquit Kris Kringle, the 1947 original couldn’t?
That's because the phrase “In God We Trust” was not minted until the ’50s, when our frenzy to display fierce American theism in contrast to USSR atheism peaked. And, didn’t it make you a little crazy at the end when the judge ruled that that phrase proved our government holds a blind faith in God?
Fast-forward to 2011. Money still avows our purported belief in God. And after Georgia launched a contest to redesign its license plate, three of the proposed eight semifinalists now up for vote are embossed with the motto.
I know, I know – you’re disappointed. And I understand. I am, too. But keep reading, my friends. There’s hope.
This time we are able to vote – a referendum! Even if it’s as seemingly trivial as the Peach State’s license plate, we have the power to decide what we want and what we don’t. We can say no to discrimination with simple clicks. When none of the God-plates garners enough votes, the governor will have no choice but to side with us. So rarely do we wield this kind of influence.
And so I urge you: vote. And when you do, remember:
(a) Not all Georgians believe in God. “In God We Trust” clearly favors religion, violating the separation of church and state.
(b) Faith should not be so flimsy as to require nonstop on-the-road affirmation.
(c) Tag IDs 1, 2, and 8 are more aesthetic, no question.
(d) Yoda’s syntax gets enough play in the Star Wars franchise.
Georgians, vote. If you know a guy who knows a guy who lives in Georgia, vote. If you know someone named Georgia or have ever driven through (around, away from, toward) Georgia, vote. Even if you think I’m blathering about the Caucasus (and you wouldn’t be the first), vote!
And mention it at the water cooler, by which I of course mean post the link to Facebook.
Kurt Ostrow — Brown University ’13.5, Religious Studies — is interning with Americans United’s Field Department this summer.
Update: It appears that many people in Georgia have expressed concern about being forced to accept a plate with a religious theme. State officials are now insisting that they never intended to put the phrase on all plates and say they will sell (for $1) an "In God We Trust" sticker that can be pasted over the county name on the plates. We salute the people of Georgia for their vigilance!