Debate:In God We Trust

From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Debate.png This is a Debate page.
Feel free to add your own spin on the story. Please keep it civil!
Information icon.svg This debate was created by Everybody.


Do We Trust?[edit]

To be totally honest, when I first read the atheist and agnostics organisations were mounting a legal challange to stop the words "In god we trust" being carved into new building I thought it childish and ridiculous. I mean really, who gives a fuck? I am an atheist and if they want to carve that into a building why should it bother me? Its just a building. Necron99 20:59, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

It's not just a building--it's YOUR building and mine too, and as a public building, it's a reflection of what kind of people "we" are supposed to be. The state shouldn't be able to promote the views one set of people--religious believers--over its obligation to keep religious superstition out of public life. TheoryOfPractice (talk) 21:06, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
I have to agree with ToP and the suitors. So long as it's a private building, they can go nuts, but imagine the uproar if anyone dared to carve "there is no god" on a building. The state should not be endorsing religion in any fashion, period. PubliusTalk 21:20, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
Well it's not mine as I am a NZer however it says "in god we trust" not "in Jesus we trust" so could mean any god to anyone. Secondly to that its almost a saying now "in god we trust", its on the money for example. Like the NZ anthem "God of nations" which is allegory as opposed to a blanket statement. Necron99 21:23, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
The phrase "in god we trust" promotes two ideas:
1) That there is a god
2) That there is one god (as opposed to many)
which excludes both atheists and polytheists. For a country that is *supposed* to be completely secular, and endorse no religion or religious views, it's ridiculous. The fact that "in god we trust" is also on US money is another issue, that a lot of people also disagree with and have tried to change (along with the "under god" in the pledge of allegiance). However, the pledge and the "in god we trust" on money is already there, it's extremely hard to make people change something that's already there. It is, however, a lot easier to stop something from being added in the first place. It's almost like a symbolic line in the dirt, like saying "ok enough, you've already got all of this stuff endorsing your great god, it stops here" rather than letting it creep further and further into the US government. Plus, it's a public building, as said. It's supposed to be for all the people of the US. Adding the phrase "in god we trust" somewhat excludes a decent portion of them, whereas not having the phrase on the building doesn't exclude any group. X Stickman (talk) 22:55, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
(EC)This is one of those things I've gone back and forth on quite a bit since throwing off religion.... On the one hand, I do understand the argument against it. However, we are still in the minority and sad as it is, sometimes being in the minority means you don't get what you want..... It's a hard line to walk. SirChuckBA product of Affirmative Action 22:57, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
"sometimes being in the minority means you don't get what you want"--that strikes me as a pretty defeatist attitude, Chuck. Not what I've come to expect from you. TheoryOfPractice (talk) 23:05, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

(undent)I don't know much about this particular case, but if they are just adding it now I'd see the rationale of complaining. But if it's already been there, why bother? Of course, I may be biased being Catholic, but whatev. ENorman (talk) 23:14, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

I fixed that indent issue TOP, hope you don't mind. I'm not giving up or anything, but in a Democracy like the U.S. there are certain things that can't change until the majority becomes more open to it.... Sadly, the majority of people in the States, even if they're not particularly religious will put on an act and become suddenly pious. Considering this is such a minor issue to anyone who doesn't feel strongly, it's gonna be a while until that changes. It's just like when the engraving mistake dropped In God we Trust from the first batch of dollar coins and all the fundies went insane... A lot of non religious people suddenly took up this cause as if it were the most important thing in the world. SirChuckBA product of Affirmative Action 23:15, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
Being in the minority shouldn't mean less of a say. For example, there's more Americans who identify as "No Religion" than there are black Americans, it's a significant portion of the population. I've always wondered how the hyper-religious decided that this country was founded on a Judeo-Christian tradition. I feel like the First Amendment is very clear on this matter. If the founders wanted a theocracy, they wouldn't have added the establishment clause. --PitchBlackMind (talk) 23:21, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
I see where you're coming from, Chuck, and in terms of injustices perpetrated against minorities in this country (disproportionate incarceration of African-Americans, let's say) or even against majorities in this country (unequal pay for equal work done by women), this is a comparatively small issue. But seeing as how religiosity is used to justify a lot of other, bigger injustices (from limiting abortion to banning gay marriage to justifying capital punishment) these sort of discursive games may be more important than we give them credit for...TheoryOfPractice (talk) 23:24, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
Don't get me wrong, I think it's an unfair issue and I agree that something should be done about it... But I prefer to spend my energy on the important stuff (pretty much everything you mentioned) Ples, every time an Atheist group files a lawsuit like this, it makes all atheists and agnostics look bad. People are really stupid and they accept this "America was built as a Christian Nation" Bullshit as the truth (mostly because they know nothing of the constitution) and they get all pissy at what they perceive as people trying to "destroy America." I just think there are better things to focus on at the moment. SirChuckBA product of Affirmative Action 23:30, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
Like ChuckB says - it makes Atheists look less like "non-believers" and more like Anti-god, in the eyes of the religious anyway. It does more harm than good and to be perfectly frank "in god we trust" is more a motto than a religious statement. Ace McWickedNecron99 00:04, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
A legal challenge to this? From here it just looks plain ridiculous. Why go to the bother? I agree with the guy from the article: patently absurd. Broccoli (talk) 00:11, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
"I just think there are better things to focus on at the moment" - but, the War on Christmas doesn't start for 3 months yet! ħumanUser talk:Human 00:25, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
If the civil rights and womens movements had accepted such a defeatist attitude then you wouldn't have a black president nor women in positions of power. Until non-believing minorities take an active stand against this unconstitutional religious overbearance then an openly atheist president becomes a pipe dream. There are always "more important things" but it takes people of conviction too act. That's one reason US sugar producers continue to get such big subsidies. It matters to them and they use their power to ensure it continues, but it's only a minor issue for US consumers. It's not absurd to protest about this stuff, it's only a small step from the 10 commandments in court rooms. Redchuck.gif ГенгисGum disease 09:25, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
But it doesnt say "In Jesus we Trust" or "The lord is our saviour" it says something that is relatively open to interpretation. An American motto of sorts. You need not be swayed by it and it shouldnt provoke such outrage. As an atheist it shouldn't matter. Teaching such things in a classroom, religion I mean, is certainly not desirable, but having this all American phrase carved upon a building (while I understand it is a public building) is not something to get so up in arms about as it harms the atheist cause as opposed to furthering it. Ace McWickedNecron99 10:24, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
If it matters enough to the religious to want it put there, then it should matter to the non-religious that is not. Even if it is a non-deonominational generic acknowledgement of "god" then it is reinforcing the concept that not having a faith is bad. This is particularly the case in the USA where a large percentage of the population (if surveys are to be believed) what rather have a relative marry a Muslim (or any other religion than their own) than marry an atheist. Government should have no business in endorsing one particular faith system, it should be secular. There is a de facto alliance of religions that prefer that people have a faith of some sort, even if it is a conflicting faith to their own ideology, rather than have no faith at all. Non-believers are not combatting just Christianity they are being attacked by many faiths. You can't even get a visa for some countries if you don't have a religion. And losing your faith can be punishable in the courts. Putting something like this up is actually exclusive and should be opposed by anyone with a liberal point of view. Redchuck.gif ГенгисGum disease 11:28, 16 July 2009 (UTC)

(undent) Sounds like the culture wars rage on in the US. To me, the idea of fighting to remove all mentions of religion from anything public is not so far from fighting to put them everywhere. Even if you think that this is important, a lawsuit against something so trivial doesn't help the aethist cause (if there even is such a thing). Broccoli (talk) 12:17, 16 July 2009 (UTC)

Indeed, were I to win an Olympic event - after they add procrastinating as a competitive sport, of course - will I refuse to allow them to play 'God Save the Queen' when I don't believe in one and loath the other? Silver Sloth (talk) 12:32, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
This is in response to a point Genghis made a few posts back... I think you're mistaking major and minor injustices. As a non religious person, having to see "In God We Trust" on money and public buildings is annoying, it's kind of stupid, but it hardly compares to slavery and no voting rights.... The civil rights movements and women's right movements made large strides because they ignored the little stuff and focused on the big picture. In that case, the minority had clear Constitutional basis to fight for equal rights... However, this case is not so clear. God is a broad concept and you'll be hard pressed to prove that the Government is showing any religious preference, unlike the 10 Commandments, which are pretty clearly representing one religion (OK 2, but really 1). Also, both the civil and women's rights movements had much more support from those who weren't in the minority. The cases are completely different scenarios. SirChuckBA product of Affirmative Action 12:54, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
"Fighting" for this "small thing" does not automatically preclude fighting for the various "big things"; you can do both. People will be passionate about whatever interests them, and trying to force them into something else is just going to make them largely apathetic. Also to just be annoyingly pedantic, the UK having "God Save The Queen" as the national anthem isn't as big a deal as the US having various "god" stuff, because while the UK's population is largely more secular than the US, the UK actually has a state sponsored religion (Church of England) and technically has no hardwired seperation of church and state. The US, while having a far more theistic population, is *supposed* to have a completely secular government. Hence the annoyance at any promotion of anything religious by said government. And having "in god we trust" *is* promoting religious views, albeit vague and widespread ones; that there is a god, and that there's only one god. The fact that it isn't promoting a specific religion over any others (except monotheism over polytheism, say, christianity over hinduism) doesn't change the fact that it's promoting *a* religion over *no* religion. X Stickman (talk) 14:18, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
While it's true that big and small cases can be fought at the same time, it makes little sense to focus on the small while ignoring the big. As for some of your other points, the Constitution does not say that government should have no show of religion, it simply says that Congress cannot favor one religion over another. I personally have no problem with religious expression during government functions, so long as they rotate it decently and don't hover on Christianity... And the problem with your last statment is that no religion isn't really something you can claim as a standing point... The whole "In God We Trust favors monotheism over polytheism" argument is weak at best, and trying to claim that IGWT favors some vague notion of a religion over no religion isn't something that will hold a lot of water in a courtroom. As I always say to my students, you can't live and decide things in a vacuum, you have to look at the reality of the situation. SirChuckBA product of Affirmative Action 14:50, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
Chuck, let me ask this; if religious mottos are small things in the religion debate, what are the big things? The only thing that I can think of, that really qualifies, is the crevo/evo debate, but we're winning that for the most part. What else is there, except the religious pushing their views on everything from abortion to gay marriage to putting plaques up on buildings. The more the push, the more they will push; see, we're a christian nation, it says so on our money and our buildings, therefore you can't have an abortion. Z3rotalk 17:39, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
I just feel that by pushing something this trivial makes atheists seem like anti-theist. This will just perpetuate the backlash against those who have no religion. It is important that atheist do not become what we here are ourselves against - fundamentalism. Atheist Fundamentalism is as bad an idea as religious fundamentalism. Ace McWickedNecron99 20:03, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
I just hate the message it sends. Putting your trust in a deity is a euphemism for not taking responsibility. Trusting a god is not the answer to any real-world problem. — Signed, by: Neveruse513 / Talk / Block 20:14, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
But why take it literally? The only people who would take it literally are those that put their trust in the lord anyway so its a moot point. Ace McWickedNecron99 20:19, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
That seems like a very slippery slope. What else would you let slide just because you (personally) didn't take it literally? And if people are putting their trust in their god anyway, why does it have to be explicitly stated? It makes me think of fundies putting "Evolution is only a theory" on warning labels on textbooks and then them telling you "oh, just don't take it colloquially." — Signed, by: Neveruse513 / Talk / Block 20:37, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
In god we trust is a little more ambiguous than the evolution/creation theory bullshit. Simply because one is force fed into a learning environment and the other is a motto inscribed on a building. Ace McWickedNecron99 20:47, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
So would you argue that the motto has no effect whatsoever on the subscription to (or retention of) deism/theism? If so, I think you give people a little too much credit. — Signed, by: Neveruse513 / Talk / Block 20:50, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
No, what I would argue is that this is a minor issue that in fighting makes atheists look like anti-theists which hurts our cause when we need to argue against something that really matters, such as teaching ID in schools. Ace McWickedNecron99 21:06, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
I'd accept that it is much less important than other issues. It is still very wrong, though. — Signed, by: Neveruse513 / Talk / Block 21:21, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
My fear though is that the backlash created by this means that there'll be much more resistance when it really matters. Its politics and its important not to polarise people to much, you let some smaller stuff slide so when the big issues hit you haven't alienated those that previously might have been sympathetic. Ace McWickedNecron99 21:28, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
Right up until the time when crazy religious conservatives point to our buildings and our money and say it's a christian nation, and most people believe them because they're dumb as fuck. Z3rotalk 21:30, 16 July 2009 (UTC)

(UI)In my experience, most people are apathetic, they just don't care about things that directly affect them. This includes religion. If simply requesting that the government enforce its own laws is too fundamentalist for people, we've already lost. While the actions may appear remanicent of the way the church acts, there isn't another way to go about it, as the unbelievers are still too small of a group. We would need to do things that have an impact beyond our numbers. Z3rotalk 20:18, 16 July 2009 (UTC)

At the risk of sounding sarcastic, putting "In God we trust" on the side of public buildings is the same as putting "The fairies will protect us".--BobNot Jim 20:20, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
Only if you take it seriously and only those who already believe would do so, as I said above, the point is moot. Ace McWickedNecron99 20:24, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
What difference would that make? Whether you take it seriously or not it's equally silly.--BobNot Jim 21:23, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
Ah shucks. Even Ace is against the lawsuit only because it's silly and counterproductive (about 6 posts up). I was relying on him to construct a coherent argument around the idea that a government should be able to carve the damn thing. Does anyone else feel that (culture war aside: if you think that the lawsuit will help reduce fundamentalism, fine) a motto on a government building could be religious, and if it couldn't be then secularism might have gone a little too far? Broccoli (talk) 23:56, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
It's an interesting point that you and Ace are making. It is a very small thing, four words on a building. After reading, I'm inclined to agree with you guys. If you think about it, the phrase is nearly as secular as Santa Claus. Ask the average person what they think when you mention "In God We Trust" and nearly everyone will think of money, not religion. Also, it is true that picking your battles is important, and this isn't really a big one. I'll use PETA as an example: I'm very sympathetic to most of what they advocate, but the way they've gone about doing things turns me off so much that no matter what it is, I'll be opposed once I hear mention of them. It's important not to lose people who are close to the middle by quibbling over stupid stuff like this. --PitchBlackMind (talk) 00:10, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
This is to answer something Zero asked way back before Ace came in both defensive weapons of gun blazing. You asked what I considered the big stuff. I think the things that're worth fighting are Christians putting Ten Commandments plaques in courtrooms. Judges opening their court sessions with prayers, Banning Gay Marriage because my hold book says it's icky, making Adultery a criminal offense (there are still groups pushing for this and coming scary close to succeeding) putting restrictions on the right to choose because your concept of God says you should... These are the big things that I would think are worth fighting.... SirChuckBA product of Affirmative Action 05:24, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
If you can't win the small stuff you're never going to win the big stuff. The whole point about making a stand against things like this is that it gets it into the public concsiousness. It raises awareness. Although the antics of groups like PETA and ALF offend a lot of people it does make people think. People may agree that animals should not be treated cruelly and that it is possible to have an ethical meat industry. But before they came along nobody really gave it much thought. It was the same with women's rights, all those bra-burning demonstrations and political correctness, changing history into herstory for example, did annoy people at the time but it has gradually changed the public attitudes. Calling a black man a nigger was no big deal back in the sixties, now it attracts great opprobrium for just having an entry on RW. To gain ground in the attitude war you need to push further than you think you can go and then accept what you really wanted in the first place. People are insisting that these phrases are put on public view for a reason, it entrenches the status quo and disposes the cultural climate to their viewpoint. The more religion is on display everywhere the harder it gets to keep it in its place. No major cultural change occurred without upsetting people. The status quo has its own momentum and it requires people of conviction to make a stand. Chuck makes a point about a lot more people having support for civil and womens rights whern they first became issues but I don't recall that to be the case. I remember seeing lots of lots of racial riots on the evening news during the sixties. Even womens rights has had to fight battles to overcome gender stereotypes. Even today women are often seen as chattels and semi-naked young women are used to sell completely unrelated products. The whole issue of whether people should have a faith and whether they should have to wear it like a badge of integrity in order to achieve political office needs to be challenged. Redchuck.gif ГенгисGum disease 17:06, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
Now this I can accept. In order to create a more tolerant future religion has to be cut out of government and politics, right? And the lawsuit is just to make a point. But suppose the great day dawns, and religion is pushed back into the home and church, and someone happens to suggest the same motto again? Same reaction, or ignore it? Broccoli (talk) 18:01, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

Edit for Anecdote[edit]

A prime example of the issue here is Colorado's state motto. The official state motto translates as "Nothing without God" or "Nothing without the Deity" (depending on the translation). Most people in the state don't even know we have one.... This motto doesn't change things in any way... But If I filed a lawsuit to get the motto invalidated for Constitutional reason, I would mobilize every religous nutjob in the state. They would then attack me and start a grassroots campaign to get the motto reinstated or something just as overtly religious put in it's place. My question is, what have I gained? I mean really. I understand the principle behind fighting things like this, but really, what do we stand to win? SirChuckBA product of Affirmative Action 05:18, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

That is exactly the point I was stating above, save the battles for when it truly matters so you dont mobilse everyone before you have too. Ace McWickedNecron99 05:26, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
I say fight every battle. "we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender"
I say never surrender. Fight every battle against the religious nuts who want to paint this secular country with their "Judeo" Christian tar. Do not let them cross any line.
PS, who knows what's really cool about that Churchill speech? ħumanUser talk:Human 05:34, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
The problem with fighting every battle is that you waste precious resources on losing causes. And do you mean other than the fact that Churchill didn't give it? SirChuckBA product of Affirmative Action 05:41, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
Fight every battle. That's how the theocrats do it, and it's why they win so often. The ACLU fights every battle, and it's why they succeed so often. Every battle, every time. I don't want one penny of my tax money going to honor/worship any deity.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 05:51, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
Thanks, Tom. At Chuck, no, you fight every battle. You work your ass off, sure, but you fight every battle. You never sleep, you never rest, you never lay down your guard. You never let the bastards win one because you couldn't be bothered, you never let them win one because you were too tired to fight. You never let them win. Oh, and as far as the PS, no, that's not it. Hint: it's a language thing. ħumanUser talk:Human 05:58, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
Several things are cool about the Churchill speech: repetition, also use of 'shall', the stronger form of 'will'. Wow. I only mentioned the culture wars as a kind of joke reference. Seems it's still serious business in the USA. Broccoli (talk) 09:01, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
OK, true, there are many great uses of English in that speech. As I have been given to understand, one of them is that all the words in the speech (or at least the "we will fight them..." section?) date back to Olde Englishe, except one - "surrender". Thus, at a very subtle level, implying that surrender is a foreign concept, something the British simply aren't going to do. ħumanUser talk:Human 22:23, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

A side issue no one mentioned yet[edit]

I'm amazed to have read through all this and not encountered one mention of the dread commies, who lost the cold war coin-toss because of our awesome God-powered money. ħumanUser talk:Human 01:50, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

Another side issue[edit]

The, um, some religious sect (JW?) has sued over similarly "trivial" seeming things, like saluting the flag and "Live Free or Die" on NH license plates. They tend to win. ħumanUser talk:Human 01:50, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

They are protesting because of their religion. For example, they don't want to pledge their allegiance to a flag or a country because they believe that would be idolatrous (or something similar), and they don't want to display a license plate that promises some manner of homicide/suicide/death-related thing because they believe only God has the authority to make any such pledges or decisions. Many people sympathize with this view, even if they disagree, since it's on behalf of their religion. But very few people sympathize with an atheist being irritated about these things, because the perception is that someone without beliefs (as atheists must be, to most people) shouldn't be offended by anything. There is an underlying expectation that unless you are religious, you can't really be bothered by religious things. This also contributes to the perception that all atheists want to destroy all religion, even if that is not true; "If you didn't want to destroy my faith, then why would you object to this slogan? You don't believe it anything, so it can't really offend you."--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 05:41, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
Everything is offensive until enough people accept it. Start out with that attitude and women wouldn't be able to vote. Z3rotalk 17:15, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

Suggest a motto![edit]

"In God We Trust" is either an offensive or a bit of a rubbish motto. Anyone care to suggest something better? Broccoli (talk) 08:54, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

E Pluribus Unum. The original unofficial motto for over a hundred and fifty years.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 09:42, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
E Pluribus Unum FTW. I also like "No gods, no masters" mentioned elsewhere, even if it is a bit Rand. Z3rotalk 17:14, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
In Vino Veritas. Ace McWickedNecron99 20:36, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
Seconding Ace. What's Latin for "Scotch", though? In Scrotus Veritas just sounds... wrong... ħumanUser talk:Human 04:06, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
hahahahahaha Ace McWickedNecron99 04:26, 18 July 2009 (UTC)