The division between church and state is a fine one, and it’s been a constant source of anguish for those on both sides of the political spectrum. One of my favorite arguments, though, is over the removal of our nation’s motto “In God We Trust” from all United States currency.
First off, I find it hilarious there are those in our nation who find those four words so offensive they would devote as much time and effort as they do to having it removed. These are the same people who believe that the CIA conspired to kill Kennedy or that George W. Bush purposely allowed the terrorists to attack the World Trade Center. These people are just begging for a conspiracy theory to sink their teeth into.
Critics of the phrase tend to think the words are included on all U.S. monies to allow the Christians a hold on our political system. The religious right apparently has this evil agenda to take over our nation and turn America into a backward religious state. However, “In God We Trust” serves more as a remembrance of our nation’s history. These words represent much more than simply putting our faith in an almighty being to watch over our great nation. The phrase was first put on coins as a result of a surge in religious conviction around the Civil War era. In response to growing sentiment and increased appeals from Americans, the U.S. Treasury began printing the phrase on coins. Not to sound like Barack “Elitist” Obama, but the American Civil War was a very difficult time in our nation’s history, to say the least. Half of our nation decided it didn’t like being one big, happy country anymore, resulting in a bloody conflict with no clear end in sight. I’m sure many took comfort in religion while faced with growing turmoil on their own soil. Putting those words on our nation’s currency was a small way to unify a nation embroiled in conflict.
This tradition became even more important during the Cold War period. Their western counterparts often referred to communists as “Godless.” As such, the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, in addition to the reference to God on our money, came to take on a new meaning. In the struggle against communist ideology, God became the defining difference between “us” and “them.” During a period of unprecedented growth in armaments and a perpetual fear of complete and utter destruction, I see no reason to hold it against Americans of the past for putting God’s name on our money or in a morning routine for elementary schools. Hindsight is 20/20, folks.
But the South eventually decided they liked being a part of the U.S. and came back to us, and the Soviet Union collapsed like Britney Spears’ façade of innocence. There should be no reason to keep this archaic phrase on our coins and dollars, right? I prefer to think of those words not as our government condoning God and religion. This phrase is a national tradition. It served as a beacon of light during one of America’s darkest hours. It helped unite our people in opposition to the threat of an oppressive regime. Those four words are a part of American history. I’m proud to see them next to good old George Washington. It reminds us of how far our nation has come, and the great potential it has for the future. It represents the unrelenting drive of Americans in the face of opposition – something we can all certainly be proud of.
This past year, the U.S. Treasury issued new $1 coins with “In God We Trust” moved to the coin’s edge. According to the Mint, the phrase was moved to allow for larger pictures of Washington and the Statue of Liberty. While I do love me some Washington and Lady Liberty, I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come. It would do a great disservice to our nation’s history and its hard-fought legacy to strike those fateful words from American currency. Besides, the Democrats create much more important battles people should be devoting their time to.