I won’t bore you with the details. Let it be simply said that I have once again had my sensibilities assaulted by another of those religionist’s “Our Christian Founders’ vision for America...” inventions of historical “fact” by proffering why our Founders wanted In God We Trust as our nation’s motto. I will tell you that I went apoplectic. Had the offending tea bagging right wing religious buffoon been in my presence I would have administered the enema cranially and the history book anally.
In 1782 the US Congress adopted a motto which represented the vision of the Founders as they sought to unite a multifaceted confederation into a united entity. Irrespective of the colonies’ social, cultural, political, philosophical, religious, or economic differences the great objective was to bring them together to form a strong union, a single nation. That motto, part of the Great Seal of the United States, was E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One).
The motto also reflected what would become America’s heterogenic make up. Unique among nations, America became a nation of immigrants who came seeking the freedom and opportunity that eluded them in their respective homelands. And out of those “many” peoples rose “one” nation, the great melting pot, where irrespective of ones heritage, each was every bit as much as an American as his neighbor. This is what America came to represent to the world. For one-hundred and seventy-five years the motto came to exemplify this unique experiment in equality - “oneness from many.”
Then 1956, and Senator Joe McCarthy’s congressional inquisition. Designed to ferret out the “creeping Red threat”, the insidious take over of our nation by the godless commies who were in our midst working to destroy us and suck dry our vital bodily fluids (a Dr. Strangelove reference there), black lists, people losing their jobs, threats of reprisal for failure to name names, people living in fear of being called a Communist sympathizer. Perhaps one of the darkest eras in our nation’s history - hysteria ruled.
From this madness arose a streak of genius: change our nation’s motto from E Pluribus Unum to “In God we Trust,” in order to stop those commie bastards from ..uh...from something. So by act of congress In God we Trust supplanted E Pluribus Unum on our paper currency, and became the official motto of the United States. And a damn good thing too since even though McCarthy was eventually dethroned and dismissed as a demagogue who exemplified the excesses of single minded non-think, Communism never took root and the nation was saved from Joe Stalin’s tyranny- thanks, no doubt, to the new motto.
So now our historic roots of coming from many factions and joining as one; our mantle of acceptance of the many who seek to become as one with their adopted nation; our uniqueness as a melting pot is no longer exemplified by E Pluribus Unum. Instead, we have a motto that emulates theocratic mindless reverence for an imaginary being.
Instead of pride in our nation’s formation and celebrating a society that embraces our many heritages, our motto echos the empty minds of the lowest common denominator. What the heck does the motto even mean? Does it imply that as Americans we all believe in a singular supernatural entity that is entrusted to manage the nation’s affairs? If so, what need is there for elected officials, for a Defense Department, for a Department of anything?
In the least it makes the assumption that all citizens are alike in belief, dismissing the fact there are non-believers and believers in multiple pagan gods. It places no value on reason or reality, nor does it honor the “Great Experiment” , the first example of democracy and freedom upon which all other democratic nations will base their own. It flies in the face of the Founding Father’s use of the deistic term “Creator” and their specific avoidance of the word “God” with all its Judeo-Xtian connotations and baggage.
It puts our motto right up there with The Confederate States of America’s motto, Under God, Our Vindicator; and third world nation’s mottos like Iraq’s God is the Greatest; Nicaragua’s, In God we Trust (Yep, that’s right); and Saudi Arabia’s, There is no God other than God and Muhammad is His Prophet. Yes, our motto puts us in wonderful company of similarly deluded nations.
Perhaps the motto change and the addition of “under God” in the pledge (also a by product of the McCarthy era - sixty years after the pledge was written), were the early warning signs of our nation’s abandonment of reason, and slide into third worldism. Maybe it was fate’s way of saying: “Someday this great country will come to admire ignorance, praise superstition, deny and demonize science, and seek the leadership and guidance of those who pray to a boogie man for rain and for people’s sexuality to be changed.”
I’m guessing Adams, Jefferson, Paine, et al, never saw this coming. For their sake, I’m glad they didn’t live to see it.