The issue that I have chosen off isidewith.com is just under the title of “First Amendment.” The actual issue is whether or not the government should support separation of church and state by removing references to god on money, federal buildings, national monuments, and in the pledge of allegiance. This topic, while not being as controversial as other things such as abortion or gun control, can be somewhat controversial across the country. The poll off isidewith.com shows that 73% of voters say no, that the government should not remove these references and 27% say yes, that the government should remove these references off money, national monuments, etc.
Of the 27% that do support that the government should remove these references there are a few solid arguments. One of these arguments being that in putting “in God we trust” on bills and “under god” in the pledge of allegiance we are essentially forcing religion in what is supposed to be a free religion “godless” country united under a “godless” constitution. “In God we trust” has even been the official motto of the entire United States of America since 1956. Previously, before 1956, the motto was “E pluribus unum.” This is a latin term meaning “out of many, one” or “one out of many” and it is used to unite the entire country. It is essentially saying that although we may be many states and people we are still together as one country. Many people believe that this should be reinstated as the official motto of the country instead of “in god we trust” because it actually unites the whole country no matter the religion instead of dividing it like “In God we trust” does.
Another argument used to support the yes side of this argument would be that putting the phrase “In God we trust” and “under God” on money and in the pledge essentially weakens it and makes it borderline meaningless. What should be a sacred phrase to many people becomes pointless if you are forced to say it in the pledge and forced to see it everywhere on money. The 26th president of the United States himself, Theodore Roosevelt, said, ‘My own feeling in the matter is due to my very firm conviction that to put such a motto on coins, or to use it in any kindred manner, not only does no good but does positive harm, and is in effect irreverence which comes dangerously close to sacrilege. A beautiful and solemn sentence such as the one in question should be treated and uttered only with that fine reverence which necessarily implies a certain exaltation of spirit. Any use which tends to cheapen it, and above all, any use which tends to secure its being treated in a spirit of levity, is from every standpoint profoundly to be regretted.’
The last of the solid arguments I have found comes from a man named Michael Newdow who was quoted by the Religion News Service in 2006 saying ‘It’s such a fraud. In this nation that’s supposed to be this beacon of religious liberty, a bastion of equality. What’s next? ‘In Jesus We Trust’? ‘In Protestantism We Trust’?’ His point being that, for one, if we allow this for all we know in the future phrases such as the examples given could be put on currency, monuments, etc. and for two that we can’t just allow any religion to put a religious phrase on money or in the pledge. For example, if the country were to put an Islamic phrase such as “Alluhah Akbar” in the pledge or on money and national monuments that would get much more negative feedback and backlash. There was even a case that went to court about an atheist father saying that forcing his daughter to say “under God” in the pledge violated his and her first amendment rights. The Chief Justice John Paul Stevens said the father didn’t have standing to bring suit because he lacked sufficient custody over his daughter.
While there are a few solid arguments for removing references to God on money, federal buildings, and national monuments there is also a few good arguments for keeping these references to God on those things. The first argument I have found is saying that they should keep these references because of the history that the phrase “In God we trust” and Christianity has in America. That phrase was even in the entire version of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow of the America Center for Law and Justice said in 2006, ‘Let’s not forget the historical significance of the phrase ‘In God We Trust.’ Use of the slogan dates back to the War of 1812. In September 1814, fearing for the fate of America while watching the British bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Francis Scott Key composed the poem the ‘Star Spangled Banner,’ of which one line in the final stanza is ‘And this be our motto – ‘in God is our trust.’ When Congress codified the longstanding motto in 1956 – fifty years ago – it articulated a purpose that reflected patriotic inspiration: ‘It will be of great spiritual and psychological value to our country to have a clearly designated national motto of inspirational quality in plain, popularly accepted English.’”
Another argument for keeping these references to God is the amount of money and trouble it would cost to remove it from national monuments, money, and federal buildings. While there isn’t any calculations as to how much it would actually cost to remove the phrase from all money, federal buildings, national monuments, etc, it most likely would not be very cheap. It also would not be easy and would be troublesome. Many believe that it just should not be a priority over other more important topics and problems in America.
The final argument against removing the phrase is how far people would go with it. There are many other things such as cities and so on that have religious origins, and some people think that if we were to change the “In God we trust” on coins and monuments that it wouldn’t end there. Brad Dacus, President of the Pacific Justice Institute, said ‘If the courts don’t protect the national motto, we have to ask ourselves what is next-are we going to rename San Francisco and all the other major cities in California whose names have obvious religious connotations? American history, including our national motto, is nothing to be ashamed of. To the contrary, the unprecedented religious tolerance, devotion and diversity of our nation, reflected in the statement ‘In God We Trust,’ should be a tremendous source of pride for every American.’
Currently America’s legislation allows these phrases such as “In God we trust” and “under God” to be used on coins, national monuments, federal buildings, and in the pledge of allegiance. In my opinion, I think that removing the phrase from coins, the pledge of allegiance, and federal buildings (if it is a simple fix such as taking down a plaque or repainting a specific area) would be a good idea, but the trouble to take it off national monuments might be a little too extreme, especially if it is a monument made of stone or an old monument that people might not want to change. I believe that we shouldn’t have anything religion related on anything federally owned because that, to me, is essentially saying that the whole country should follow that certain religion when this is supposed to be a religion free country.