Congressional action on a resolution promoting display of “In God We Trust” in public schools and other public buildings is divisive and a diversion from pressing national concerns, according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
The House Committee on the Judiciary is scheduled to vote March 17 on H. Con. Res. 13, a measure “reaffirming” In God We Trust as the national motto and encouraging its display in all public buildings, including public schools.
Said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, “This is divisive and a diversion from important national issues. No wonder public opinion of Congress is so low. We face a dire economic situation, the threat of a government shut-down and world instability, and House members are wasting time on symbolic religious issues.
“Millions of Americans believe in God and millions do not,” Lynn continued. “I doubt if any of them will make their decision about religious belief based on a politician’s non-binding resolution.”
Lynn said the real reason for the resolution, introduced by Rep. J. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), is to curry favor with Religious Right leaders who are increasingly anxious for their Republican allies in the House to act on social issues.
“This resolution is an easy way for House Speaker Boehner and his friends to try to mollify religious conservatives,” said Lynn. “It’s shameful and disrespectful to use religion as a political tool.
“If members of Congress want to get into the decorating business, I suggest that they promote the posting of the Bill of Rights in public schools and buildings,” said Lynn. “That’s artwork that all Americans should be able to agree on.”
Lynn noted that “In God We Trust” was only adopted by Congress as the national motto in 1956 during the Cold War when American leaders wanted to distinguish the United States from the communists running the Soviet Union.
A better motto for America, Lynn said, is “E Pluribus Unum,” the original one adopted in 1782 as part of the national seal.
“E Pluribus Unum is Latin for ‘Out of many, one,’” said Lynn. “That’s a good description of America, one nation made up of people from many lands and faith perspectives.”
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.