Members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus have criticized President Barack Obama for telling an audience in Indonesia last month that the phrase “E Pluribus Unum” is a good summary of the American experience.
The Prayer Caucus, led by U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), wrote to Obama today complaining that he called “E Pluribus Unum” the national motto during a Nov. 10 speech at a university in Jakarta. The national motto, the caucus insists, is actually “In God We Trust.”
Americans United for Separation of Church and State says members of the Prayer Caucus should reconsider if they think this is an important issue.
“Given the state of the economy, the unemployment rate and the precarious state of world affairs, the president has a lot to do,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, by contrast, appear to have a lot of time on their hands.”
AU pointed out that “E Pluribus Unum” appears on the Great Seal of the United States, which was codified in 1782, and the phrase is still used on coinage. In citing it, Obama was trying to make the point that even though Americans are of diverse backgrounds, they have joined together as one nation.
The caucus also complained about Obama omitting the word “Creator” when quoting passages from the Declaration of Independence and offered to meet with him about these issues.
“The Prayer Caucus should just admit that it is looking for any opportunity to bash the president,” Lynn remarked. “It’s not very Christian of them, but I expect nothing less from a body that takes its marching orders from the Religious Right.”
Added Lynn, “This is one of the silliest manufactured controversies I’ve ever seen, and I would advise the president to deal with it by tossing the caucus’ letter into the nearest wastebasket.”
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.