Originally a comment on Help keep God’s name in America!!
Apparently, [In God we trust] was named the national motto by Eisenhower in 1956. It was challenged in 1970 and the case made it to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The decision was very similar to today’s – it was fine because “It is quite obvious that the national motto and the slogan on coinage and currency ‘In God We Trust’ has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion. Its use is of patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no true resemblance to a governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise….” They quoted an earlier decision: “Short of those expressly proscribed governmental acts there is room for play in the joints productive of a benevolent neutrality which will permit religious exercise to exist without sponsorship and without interference. …”
This is even worse than today’s given that it had been made the motto just 14 years prior (after a couple of centuries of “E pluribus unum” as the unofficial motto) and for what I understand was the express purpose of declaring the US a religious/theistic country in opposition to the godless Communists. That is in no way neutral and has quite a bit to do with the establishment of religion, as these wingnuts recognize.
But it also shares the same problem as the Greece decision: If the motto or the prayers are “merely ceremonial” or traditional exercises, the response to people’s reasonable sense of exclusion and their opposition to the practice would be to change or end their use. It would not be “Let’s take this to the highest courts!” The fact that these decisions are being made by high courts itself destroys the claim that we’re talking about mere ceremony or tradition.
Gregory in Seattle says
The fact that American Talibangelicals are the ones pushing this “ceremonial deism” manure is actually rather funny.
1. They end up saying — publicly and repeatedly — that their beliefs are empty gestures devoid of all possible religious meaning.
2. They ignore the fact that Christianity was sustained for its first three centuries because of martyrs who refused to participate in the ceremonial deism of the day. Offering incense to Jupiter and the various tutelary deities of Rome was not an act of religion, after all, just an act of civic participation and loyalty to the law.
And the idiots have their heads so far up their behinds that they are incapable of realizing these things.
F [i'm not here, i'm gone] says
Absolutely. Nailed it.
This is particularly fun:
How does this religious phrasing become “patriotic”? Seem like there is a whole boatload of unexamined assumptions behind “In God We Trust” somehow being patriotic which automatically (in fact, completely circularly) negate the “it’s OK cuz it’s just patriotic” argument.
“Ceremonial Deism” my ass.
Blanche Quizno says
The Puritan Rev. John Cotton acknowledged that forcing people to go through the motions, especially unwillingly, made hypocrites of them. But the Right Rev. Cotton understood that even hypocrites have their uses:
THIS is the “religious freedom” the Puritans sought in fleeing England for the New World – the freedom to freely impose Christian tyranny on others to whatever extent they wished. Sounds quite similar to a modern Muslim theocracy, doesn’t it? There truly is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
I, for one, am VERY HAPPY that the Puritans are now extinct.
Blanche Quizno says
@3 – Sastra, when young French nobleman Alexis de Tocqueville was visiting the US in the early 1830s (shortly after the French Revolution), he noted that, in the US, Christianity had a peculiar character. There were many different sects of Christianity, which were protected from persecution by the government. But since they were all Christianities, there was a certain fellow-feeling that stemmed from at least all having the same basis for ethical/moral conduct.
There was little room for innovation, because how could one person ever consider his own opinion to be superior to everyone else’s combined opinions? Even two heads are better than one, after all. So, as he put it:
As the author explains,
And that’s how we are where we are.
You can read some of it here: http://tinyurl.com/k5dxszx
Eamon Knight says
@4: I, for one, am VERY HAPPY that the Puritans are now extinct.
Are you sure about that? Because I’m seeing lots of banner ads here for the “Puritan Hard Drive”, which appears to be an e-collection of Puritan and Reformed literature. The ads are ugly, and some of the testimonials are so over-the-top they read like parodies thereof. Good for a chuckle, at least.
Hope they’re paying mondo bux to FTB ;-).