As Americans United notes in a press release issued today, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on a resolution, H Con. Res. 13, which would reaffirm “In God We Trust” as the official motto of the United States and encourage the display of that motto in public spaces.
In a statement, resolution sponsor Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) explained the need for his resolution saying Congress must confront “a disturbing trend of inaccuracies and omissions, misunderstandings of church and state, rogue court challenges and efforts to remove God from the public domain by unelected bureaucrats.”
There are certainly inaccuracies and omissions on this issue – but they’re coming from Forbes and his Religious Right allies. If you haven’t looked at paper money or coins recently (and if you pay for everything with your debit card as I do, you haven’t), be assured that “In God We Trust” still appears on all American currency. But contrary to what Forbes and others may argue, “In God We Trust” isn’t even close to the original motto of the United States. It wasn’t adopted until 1956.
Awhile back, the Religious Right went into conniptions after President Barack Obama dared to point out that E Pluribus Unum (“Out of Many, One”) has served as a national motto. One could argue that it has a far better claim than “In God We Trust” since it can be found on the Great Seal of the United States, which was created in the 18th century. Even Novus Ordo Seclorum (“A New Order of the Ages”) makes a better case for being an historic motto than “In God We Trust” since it, too, dates to the 1790s.
This resolution represents an interesting departure from protocol for the Religious Right, which normally loves to claim that everything the Founding Fathers did was both sacred and religiously based. In the case of “In God We Trust,” however, the founders had been dead for more than 100 years before it came into existence.
Unfortunately, this resolution is not only a case of sucking up to the Religious Right and a case of historical inaccuracy, but it’s also a colossal waste of time. Doesn’t the House have anything better to do, like fix the economy?
As a Washington Post blogger put it, “Now, we’re just waiting for the House to announce that it’s voting on the Apple Pie Act of 2011.”
Or, as Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn noted, “The American people want action on jobs and the economy, yet this Congress continues to waste time pandering to the Religious Right. This meaningless, purely symbolic vote won’t create one job, help one family struggling to pay its mortgage or rebuild one piece of infrastructure.”
The resolution is expected to pass. We can only hope that it will be quickly forgotten and that Congress will finally get around to dealing with the real issues affecting the United States.