Is it really true that “In God we trust”? With what do we trust him? It might indeed make Christians feel warm and fuzzy to see that motto on U.S. currency, but do they actually believe it?
This was the question recently asked in an excellent article, “In God We (Do Not) Trust.”
Using prayer as a little extra insurance when times are tough is one thing. But who would pray instead of using evidence-based means? Who would pray for safe passage across a busy street rather than looking and using good judgment? Who would pray to fix a car? Who would pray for healing rather than use a cure proven effective by modern medicine?
That is, who would actually trust that God will take care of important things without some sort of safety net?
Indeed, the government has made clear that that’s not the way things work. In response to preventable deaths among minors within the Followers of Christ church, a Christian denomination, Oregon recently removed laws protecting parents who rejected medical care for their children in favor of faith healing.
As the article says about faith healing,
It is tantamount to the state saying, “Sure, it looks great on a coin, but come on you idiot, it’s not as though this god stuff actually works.”
For atheists, “In God We Trust” on currency and as the official motto of the United States is one of those pick-your-battles things. It’s in blatant violation of the First Amendment (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion …”), but issues such as injury from faith healing are more important and deserve more attention.
But let’s look for a moment at what we discarded to make room for this motto. E Pluribus Unum (Latin for “Out of many, one”) was the de facto motto before the adoption of “In God We Trust” in 1956. That certainly showed those atheist commies which side of the theological fence we were on. But this came at a price.
One trait that is special about America is that we’re composed of people who came from all over the world to pull in the same direction to make a great country.
Out of Many, One. Which country would this motto fit better than America? Out of Many, One—a custom-made inspirational reminder of who we are and where we came from.
And we flushed it down the toilet in favor of “In God We Trust,” a one-size-fits-all poncho that could be worn by a hundred countries.
Photo credit: kevindooley
- Colin Flannery, “In God We (Do Not) Trust,” Humanist Network News.
- Mark Twain has an unhelpful experience with Christian Science healing.
- The Far Left Side has an excellent comic illustrating this.
“a one-size-fits-all poncho that could be worn by a hundred countries.”
Indeed, did the Nazis not have “Gott mit uns” on their uniforms??? (God with us)
The way I understand the history of Hitler is he was a Christian, and he believed that the white race was superior to all others, and he needed to cleanse it of inferior culture, races, or whatever he decided he didn’t like . It seems I have been hearing other versions of history when it comes to Hitler and his beliefs, or it is ignored by some TV channels. I don’t even remember where I heard this, but never did verify it. Is my understanding correct?
Mein Kampf has evidence of his Christian beliefs, though Christians (not surprisingly) try to downplay this. Martin Luther (a fellow German) was famously anti-Semitic.
I really used to get irritated by seeing the “In God we trust” phrase on money, coin, but your point of “pick your battles” has changed how I view it. It doesn’t bother me as much. I agree, I think you make a very good point that making sure we don’t teach intelligent design, creationism as science, in public schools, is one of the battles we should fight. I know someone who has four kids, is all about Jesus, and home schools their four kids. This person said to me that creationism is science, and I said if you think creationism is science, you don’t know what science is. I didn’t mean to do it in front of this persons four kids, but they are so brainwashed, I am glad I said it. I can definitely see how this could be harmful to the future of this country. I know these kids don’t care about the truth, or their parents don’t, and the kids have picked up on this value. One of them, I think, might care about the truth. Hopefully when they get into a public college they will be exposed to evidence based thinking, critical thinking, if they go to college. I really don’t think having it on money harms. I understand it violates a sacred principle in the Constitution, so I respect the principled view. There are so many other important, critical problems that only can be solved by science, technology, evidence based reasoning, critical thinking we face out of many, one. I also like how you pointed out how some people just cross out, with a black felt tip pen, the “In God we trust” phrase on paper money. I never thought to do this, but just might one of these days…lol.
It is indeed odd how some Christians will reject science that steps on their theological toes (evolution, cosmology) but happily accept science in other areas (medicine, agriculture, chemistry, etc.).
Do they not see that the same method produced all branches of science?
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