I was first tipped off about this by Killfile's seed, but while I was researching, it has gotten all over the internet. You can view KillFile's seed and the discussion that resulted from it here. This resolution, H.Con.Res.13, was sponsored by Rep. J. Randy Forbes (R-VA-4) and co-sponsored by 64 others. It was introduced in the House Judiciary Committee on January 26, 2011. To summarize the resolution, the most recent title is "Reaffirming 'In God We Trust' as the official motto of the United States and supporting and encouraging the public display of the national motto in all public buildings, public schools, and other government institutions."
I have some problems with this, which you have probably already concluded. The first thought that hit me was "why are we wasting time and money on this when we are constantly being reminded that we are broke and sacrifices must be made?" While declaring over and over again that the Republicans have come to rescue our financial house and pursue less government interference in our lives, this guy's congressional seat is barely warmed back up following the 2010 midterm race and he comes out with this? Was there anything more pressing that he could have been expending his energy on? What the hell does this have to do with the "Judiciary Committee?"
The text of the resolution follows:
Reaffirming `In God We Trust' as the official motto of the United States and supporting and encouraging the public display of the national motto in all public buildings, public schools, and other government institutions.
Whereas `In God We Trust' is the official motto of the United States;
Whereas the sentiment, `In God We Trust', has been an integral part of United States society since its founding;
Whereas in times of national challenge or tragedy, the people of the United States have turned to God as their source for sustenance, protection, wisdom, strength, and direction;
Whereas the Declaration of Independence recognizes God, our Creator, as the source of our rights, `We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.';
Whereas the national anthem of the United States says `praise the power that hath made and preserved us a nation . . . and this be our motto: in God is our trust.';
Whereas the words `In God We Trust' appear over the entrance to the Senate Chamber and above the Speaker's rostrum in the House Chamber;
Whereas the oath taken by all Federal employees, except the President, states `I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.';
Whereas John Adams said, `Statesmen may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand.';
Whereas if religion and morality are taken out of the marketplace of ideas, the very freedom on which the United States was founded cannot be secured;
Whereas as President Eisenhower said and President Ford later repeated, `Without God, there could be no American form of government, nor, an American way of life.'; and
Whereas President John F. Kennedy said, `The guiding principle and prayer of this Nation has been, is now, and ever shall be `In God We Trust.':Now, therefore, be it
"Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Congress reaffirms `In God We Trust' as the official motto of the United States and supports and encourages the public display of the national motto in all public buildings, public schools, and other government institutions."
Citation: Bill Text - 112th Congress (2011-2012) - THOMAS (Library of Congress) thomas.loc.gov
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:H.CON.RES.13: (Accessed 23 March 2011)
Now, never mind that signage costs money - money that is being cut from education, health, disaster preparedness and other programs. Remember, the Republicans are here to get our national finances back in order and, as we are often reminded, sacrifices must be made. Setting the financial hypocrisy aside, I have other problems with this. Let's have a look at the history of our national Motto, shall we?
"E. Pluribus Unum"
Out of many, one. That's what it means. It was a fitting motto since a minimum of eight countries had contributed to the population of the colonies by the time of the Declaration of Independence: England, Scotland, Ireland, Africa, Holland, Germany, France, and Spain. It was also an acknowledgement that the thirteen states were united under the banner of one nation. This motto was suggested for the Seal of the United States in 1776 by Pierre Eugene du Simitiere, an artist with experience in heraldry. The suggestion was made to none other than Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, who had been charged with the responsibility of overseeing the creation of a seal for the new nation before the close of the Continental Congress on July 4th, 1776:
"Resolved, that Dr. Franklin, Mr. J. Adams, and Mr. Jefferson, be a committee, to bring in a device for a seal for the United States of America." - July 4, 1776, Journals of Continental Congress
Franklin, Adams and Jefferson approved of du Simitiere's suggestion and had it incorporated into the seal they submitted to the Continental Congress. This first seal was not accepted but the motto survived and appeared on the design that did become our seal by an act of congress in 1782.
"The Pieces, paly [alternating pales], represent the several states all joined in one solid compact entire, supporting a Chief, which unites the whole & represents Congress. The Motto alludes to this union." - Charles Thomson's "Remarks and Explanation," Adopted by the Continental Congress, June 20, 1782
Citation: "The Great Seal of the United States" U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs
"In God We Trust"
Our nation's original Motto survived until the Red Scare of the 1950s trumped the wisdom of the Founding Fathers and 176 years of history. In 1956, "In God We Trust" was made our official Motto, distinguishing the U.S. from the "Godless" Communist countries. Our nation's motto was changed in response to a political climate of fear-mongering, suspicion, and hatred. While we know the names of those who put forth "E. Pluribus Unum" as our nation's motto, I have yet to be able to determine which politicians sponsored the legislation that changed it. If anyone knows, please enlighten me and I will gladly add it to this article. (Please don't tell me it was McCarthy!)
The Language of the Resolution, and Some Additional Facts for Consideration
"Whereas the sentiment, `In God We Trust', has been an integral part of United States society since its founding;"
These words are a paraphrase of the words written by Francis Scott Key in the Star-Spangled Banner in 1814, approximately 40 years after the nation's founding.
"Whereas, in times of national challenge or tragedy, the people of the United States have turned to God as their source for sustenance, protection, wisdom, strength, and direction"
Really? I think someone forgot to tell the Atheists, the Agnostics, the Goddess-Worshipers, and several other groups of citizens who are also "people of the United States."
"Whereas the Declaration of Independence recognizes God..."
Umm, not precisely. The Declaration of Independence does acknowledge a "Creator" but does not identify that Creator as the God of the Abrahamic faiths. There is a reference to "laws of nature and of nature's God" (Pagans rejoice!) but again, this "nature's God" is not identified as the God of the Abrahamic faiths. Go ahead, see for yourself here.
I don't have a problem with anyone exercising whatever faith they may have. I think faith can be an enriching, comforting influence in life for many people. We, the people of the United States, are a people of diverse belief systems. When you are in a position of representing many people, making these kind of blanket statements in resolutions that will become part of the official government record of our country, this becomes problematic. If you don't want to be an inclusive voice, a voice for ALL the people you represent, regardless of their race, religion, gender, creed or ethnicity, you shouldn't be running for office to begin with.
"Whereas the oath taken by all Federal employees, except the President, states `I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.';"
Okay, again not quite. The Oath was established by the Judiciary Act of 1789. As further evidence that our founders intended to keep church and state separate and leave matters of faith to an individual's own conscience, the act provides the option of omitting the words "so help me God," in which case an "affirmation" rather than an oath is admitted. See Chapter XX, section 7 for yourself here.
"Whereas John Adams said, `Statesmen may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand.';"
John Adams also signed the treaty with Tripoli, 1797 which declared: "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."
"Whereas if religion and morality are taken out of the marketplace of ideas, the very freedom on which the United States was founded cannot be secured;"
Says who? The author of this resolution, that's who. I've been unable to locate the link for Rep. Forbes' sponsoring of a resolution to have the bible declared the inerrant word of God, so allow me to submit for your consideration another example of Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va-4) handiwork:
H.R. 635 Parental Title Protection Act of 2011, introduced 2/10/2011 Requires federal agencies, contractors, or government-sponsored enterprises to use the words "mother" and "father" when describing parents, and not the words "parent 1" or "parent 2" (or similar words), in all official documents issued by such entities. (I kid you not!)
One point I would like to make here...this is a resolution. That means it doesn't enforce anything. So why waste the time and effort on debating this in committee when there is certainly no lack of pressing issues waiting for solutions? Resolutions don't come scott-free. There are processing costs, the expense of the paying for a congressman who is spending his time drafting resolutions such as this one, the expense of the other representative's time discussing and debating whether to move it on up the line, etc. Even though this resolution has no power to enforce, it is still suggesting that public buildings make these changes and these changes will most certainly be paid for by the tax payer, unless Forbes intends to pray down some writing-in-stone favors from on high. How does Forbes expect government agencies, under pressure with budget cuts, to make these changes other than to frivolously take the funds from their already strapped budgets to pay for it? It just smacks of hypocrisy all around. And since Forbes surely is not so stupid as to believe that these signage change recommendations are going to be acted upon while these agencies are struggling to come to terms with shrinking budgets, one must ask the obvious question - just what is he trying to pull here? Given Forbes' history, the answer should be rather obvious. This is yet another of his religious propaganda stunts. Boehner needs to get his boy in check.