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PA Legislator Plays Pretend on ‘In God We Trust’

The Pennsylvania state legislature is almost certain to pass a bill requiring the posting of “In God We Trust” in every public school in the state, in one form or another. It’s already passed the relevant committee and will soon be headed for a full vote.

Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Allegheny) sponsored the bill, titled The National Motto Display Act. He says it’s important that schools display the words “In God We Trust,” as the phrase is closely connected to Pennsylvania history. Former Pennsylvania Gov. James Pollack is reportedly responsible for putting the phrase on coins while serving as the director of the United States Mint about 150 years ago, according to local outlet WHTM-TV. The phrase was adopted as a national motto in 1956.

The measure would require schools to present the words on a plaque or through student artwork, according to the outlet.

“It’s passive exposure,” Saccone told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “They don’t have to look at it because if it’s on the cafeteria wall or if it’s over the front door they can look at it or don’t have to look at it. Why would we not celebrate our national motto? We can have witches on brooms in schools, we can have Dracula, and vampires and zombies, but we can’t have our national motto in our schools?”

And of course, Saccone is pretending that this has nothing at all to do with inculcating religious belief in students:

During the committee hearing, he said, opponents raised questions about whether the measure would withstand a court challenge and concerns that it might trivialize the motto.

“This isn’t about evangelizing,” Saccone said. “This is about celebrating our national motto.”

No, this is about asserting Christian privilege. What if one were to ask, “What about those students who don’t believe in God, much less ‘trust’ him?” The answer would be tough, you just have to take it. This is what the majority believes, so you don’t count. But the government is forbidden from declaring any religious belief true; to do so is an establishment of religion.

The original motto, though unofficial, was E Pluribus Unum — out of many, one. It expressed the hopeful basis of any democratic republic, that though we may have differing views on a wide range of things, we can build a nation that allows us each to have our say and protects our equal rights. “In God we trust” does the exact opposite, it says that this nation is a religious one and the non-religious (or those of another religion, like Buddhism) will just have to accept being second-class citizens.

Comments

  1. cry4turtles says

    I’m sure they’ll omit the second half on that statement. In gawd we trust…everybody pays cash.

  2. Sastra says

    “This isn’t about evangelizing,” Saccone said. “This is about celebrating our national motto.”

    “That’s right — you can trust in any God you want. God isn’t religious, all sorts of people who aren’t in a religion believe in God.”

    And atheists aren’t real Americans. We are guests in someone else’s house. “We” apparently doesn’t include us. The hard part is that this isn’t a bug — it’s the feature.

    I’ve heard so many people –atheists even — insist that the US Motto and Pledge are “small potatoes.” No, I think they’re the big enchilada.

  3. John Pieret says

    “It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.”

    Judge Jones – Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District

    The issues change, the tactics don’t.

  4. says

    …as the phrase is closely connected to Pennsylvania history.

    Like William Penn?

    Former Pennsylvania Gov. James Pollack is reportedly responsible for putting the phrase on coins while serving as the director of the United States Mint about 150 years ago…

    Oh.

  5. otrame says

    You know, I once made it a habit to mark out the God on paper money I get before I pass it on. I’ve let that habit slip a bit, but today, for some reason, I took out my marker and covered the God. (Every month I have to transfer money from one bank to another and doing it in cash is the easiest, cheapest way). There are times when I feel a little childish, but stories like the OP remind me why I go to the trouble.

  6. Michael Heath says

    I’d like to see the secularist community make a push to promote E Pluribus Unum supplanting the current motto. Primarily by arguing it’s what the founders used. I see multiple benefits.

    My motivation is based on a similar perspective asserted by Sastra up-thread:

    I’ve heard so many people –atheists even — insist that the US Motto and Pledge are “small potatoes.” No, I think they’re the big enchilada.

  7. says

    I agree with Michael (#9). If we pushed E.Pluribus Unum hard, it would be hard for them to argue against it without coming out and saying that the reason for “In God We Trust” is religious proselytizing. If we did our ground work first and got the more liberal religious sects on our side, we can kill them with kindness.

    Plus, I think this is a fight we need to bring to them. We need to make the religious right stand there and assert that they do not want the “many” and the diverse thinking that comes with it. We should hold their feet to the fire and force them to stop pretending and tiptoeing around any confirmation of their bigotry. We should make them lift high the flag of the John Birch Tea Party defend it to the last or surrender to the gripping, fiendish clutches of those who would… …give them affordable health care, equal educational opportunity, and reliable access to a livable wage earning profession regardless of personal, political or religious leanings. [gasp!]

  8. catbutler says

    Keep in mind that Allegheny county contains Pittsburgh which tells how far these dipshits have infiltrated past the rural areas of PA.
    PA just becomes more embarrassing every day—As a Philadelphia I am beginning to believe our only recourse is to secede before the morons take over completely.

  9. doublereed says

    Couldn’t this massively backfire and end up getting rid of “In God We Trust” as a motto entirely???

  10. dogmeat says

    Couldn’t this massively backfire and end up getting rid of “In God We Trust” as a motto entirely???

    Highly unlikely. Much like the prayers to open Congress and “under God” in the pledge, “In God We Trust” is very popular in both parties which means, even if the courts would rule against it (unlikely with the SCOTUS), they’d be leery of doing so if Congress and the executive would simply ignore such a ruling. They’ll make the blatant “wink wink, nudge nudge” argument that it’s just tradition and/or “ceremonial deism” and let it go.

  11. greg1466 says

    As a life long resident of Pennsylvania, I have to constantly fight the urge to make fun of Texas, Kentucky, etc. Stones and glass houses, donchaknow…

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