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Nov 02 2011

To Phrase A Coin

The motto is “In God We Trust”;
Display it everywhere, we must!
In doing so, recall, it’s just
A hollow little phrase.
It’s on our money, even though
It lost religion long ago—
Rote repetition made it so
It’s meaningless these days.

If you’re like me, you find it odd
That those who claim to love their god
Would fight to keep this cheap façade,
Especially on money!
But now, in congress, start the fight
To grow the phrase in public sight—
Replacing God with new “God lite”
You must admit, it’s funny

Remember Teddy Roosevelt
Opposed the motto, cos he felt
It sacrilege to put on gelt,
Insulting the creator
But that was then, and this is now;
We’ll push our god; we don’t care how,
With every method we allow.
And jobs? Well, maybe later.

Rant, after jump:

I first posted this little ditty when the judicial subcommittee had scheduled its vote back in March. Now, the entire House has voted, reaffirming “In God We Trust” as our national motto. The Supreme Court has held that ceremonial use of religious language does not constitute a violation of the establishment clause, in cases where rote repetition has rendered the language meaningless.

That is, the phrase is legal if it is meaningless. If lawmakers wish to argue that “In God We Trust” actually refers to their particular choice of god, their usage would apparently violate the First Amendment. I like Chris Rodda’s notion, over at “This Week in Christian Nationalism, of putting the alleged triviality of the motto to the test, and encouraging all atheists to take a sharpie to their bills and blot out “IN GOD WE TRUST”. I started doing that a few weeks ago. I only wish I had more money; as a poor tightwad, I don’t like to part with anything higher than a $1 bill.

If the phrase is trivial enough to withstand judicial scrutiny, it shouldn’t matter in the slightest if we cross it out, and it will serve as a reminder that atheists are part of the economy too. On the other hand, if certain factions get their knickers in a twist over our actions, it will indicate that the phrase still holds specific religious significance, and should therefore be seen as a violation of the establishment clause.

Of course, the real motivation behind voting on this motto is likely to be considerably more secular; the brilliant legal mind of Michele Bachmann, with the tenacity and quickness of a barnacle, latched onto President Obama’s use of E Pluribus Unum as more representative of our nation. It is, of course, more inclusive, and less pandering toward any particular religious view. Which makes it utterly unacceptable to Bachmann.

Plus, of course, it’s much easier to score points with one’s constituents this way, than to tackle the important issues.

6 comments

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  1. 1
    rob

    if the phrase “in god we trust” is meaningless, then it can stay on money. but if it is meaningless, why bother to have it on money in the first place?

  2. 2
    bksea

    I wonder if it could be argued that by “reaffirming” it as our national motto, congress has imbued it with specific meaning beyond traditional use. Therefore, it should be stricken as a violation of the establishment clause. You have to admit that would be a pretty hilarious outcome of this stupidity!

  3. 3
    machintelligence

    Perhaps a more inclusive phrase might be in order. How about: In Gods we trust.

  4. 4
    Cuttlefish

    Doesn’t include me, machintelligence. I’d prefer E Pluribus Unum, if you want inclusive.

  5. 5
    Egaeus

    I have a green sharpie that’s perfect for the job. You hardly miss God, just like it never existed in the first place.

  6. 6
    Anthony K

    Such things are so strange. I much prefer our national motto: A Mari Usque Ad Mare.

    Little known fact: A Mari Usque Ad Mare was the second choice, but won out when nobody could figure how to gracefully translate the first choice, “Fuck, it’s cold!” into Latin.

  1. 7
    Welcome Maryam Namazie (And Catch Up With The Tons Of Things Going On At Freethought Blogs!) | Camels With Hammers

    [...] And Chris Rodda provocatively suggests that we should start crossing the phrase “In God We Trust” off of our money. And relatedly Cuttlefish writes about what it means “To Phrase A Coin”. [...]

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