The motto stamped on bills and coins
Is everywhere. The phrase enjoins,
“In God We Trust”.
Unless we wish to be so brash
As just refuse to carry cash
It seems we must.
The warnings come, so stern and dour
From representatives of our
Who crow that, when with cash we pay,
“In God We Trust” means we display
But if, perchance, you should refuse,
And go to court and, sadly, lose
If that is what the phrase is for
Then let them make the claim once more…
I’ll grind it off
I’ve noticed something strange. There are two completely different versions of “In God We Trust” on American money. One type is what the courts have consistently seen in their rulings on the motto–it is an example of “ceremonial deism”, a national motto rather than a actual invocation of a god; it is hidden in purse or pocket, rather than displayed as an affirmation (the comparison is made to “Live Free Or Die” on NH license plates, which are prominently and publicly displayed, and force the user to act as an advertisement for the motto), and thus can put no burden on non-believers (or others who object). It is not religious in the slightest, but rather a nod to history and to patriotism, and complaining about it is like complaining about the shape of Washington’s nose–you may disagree, but it’s a trivial matter and not a legitimate injury. And who could complain about this “In God We Trust”? It would be like going to court complaining that the reeding on the edge of the quarter was too fine. It’s trivial. It’s nothing. I have no problem with this “In God We Trust”.
It’s the other “In God We Trust” that bothers me. The one the judges don’t seem to see, but which a great many others, from regular citizens to lawmakers to televised “experts”, constantly refer to. The phrase that the commenters at CBN, or The Blaze, clearly see in yesterday’s story. The one referred to on Fox’s “The Five”, in support of the (equally ceremonial) “under God” pledge. The one commenters used to bash Jessica Ahlquist. The one used to turn all atheists into hypocrites, since they carry god around in their pockets (if there remains anyone who has not seen that little rhetorical trick, just follow the link to The Blaze, hold your nose, and read some of the comments).
That second “In God We Trust” is the one I am removing from my money. It’s perfectly legal (no more damaging on bills than “where’s George?“, and not damaging at all to coins (unlike cross pennies), which can still be used in any vending machine or parking meter, or at any store. And since the courts have decided that the presence of the phrase is no big deal, its removal is likewise a trivial matter. And those believers who are so concerned with my hypocrisy have to support my honest money, since my bearing false witness would be a sin.
Anyway, the courts have spoken yet again, and I won’t complain. I do wonder if an individual politician who uses the second “In God We Trust” to bash an atheist could ever see legal consequences. I mean, technically, in that world view such a politician is guilty of taking the lord’s name in vain… but that book is more suggestions than commandmants, innit?
I am continuing the tradition of de-godding a batch of coins whenever I see the second “In God We Trust”, and of de-godding any and all paypal donations. (I have changed my mind, though–I am going to bend over backward to make it all quarters now, and not dollar coins–I have seen evidence that the quarters remain in circulation, and evidence that shopkeepers won’t recirculate the coins, but rather simply bring them to the bank.) It’s practically no effort at all, and very satisfying.