This issue of Church & State went to press in October, so as of this writing we don’t know the results of the election.
But we do know this: The country faces serious problems. Unemployment remains high, the budget deficit is growing and the economic recovery has been slower than we would like. There would seem to be plenty of work for members of Congress in Washington.
You wouldn’t know that based on some of the bills being introduced. In September, U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.) introduced a resolution affirming that many people in the country are religious and expressing support for references to God and our “Judeo-Christian heritage” on public structures and in public resources.
H. Res. 789 notes that the United States adopted the phrase “In God We Trust” as the national motto in 1956 and asserts that “the Bible is the best-selling book of all time.” It points out that “92 percent of United States citizens believe in God and 78.4 percent identify themselves with Christianity.”
And the point of this is what? Is it to remind those who don’t believe in God or are not Christian that they are somehow second-class citizens? Is it to broadcast to Americans that Congress likes God?
The American people probably know that by now, based on the number of resolutions like this that have been introduced lately.
Congressional resolutions don’t have the force of law, but this one is still annoying. It should offend all Americans. It’s a slap in the face to non-believers, implying that they are out of step with the majority and are perhaps merely tolerated in this nation of believers.
The implication is not even subtle: Real Americans believe in God.
Believers should be offended too. Fincher’s resolution takes the faith many people cherish and turns it into a cudgel to bash others and a tool to further political division.
Many religions teach the value of humility. There’s nothing humble about a resolution like this. In fact, it’s an “in-your-face” exercise in religious supremacy.
Resolutions like this often pass and then are quickly forgotten. That’s another problem with them. It’s pure politics. People who actually take religion seriously don’t want to see their faith drafted into such a tawdry game.
Fincher and the politicians who think like him need to get off the God kick and get to work on the issues Americans really care about.