Sunday, May 18, 2008

In God We Trust Equals Patriotism

Out of Lancaster California, comes the next step in tying religion to government, by joining religion to patriotism. Clever don’t you think? We can all thank the 1956 slogan, “In God We Trust” on our money, for the slippery slope to theocratic government. Here's the LA Daily News story with the details:

“The Lancaster City Council has unanimously approved placing the motto "In God We Trust" on the back wall of the council chambers. The city joins more than 30 others around the country. Resident Debbie Phillips said after the council action last week. ‘Not everybody shares the council's individual and collective religious beliefs. That's what makes our country great. We have a diversity of beliefs, and it seems this is discriminatory."

Closely watch how conservatives justify pushing the limits, despite the obvious ramifications, by claiming what they’re doing is “legal.” And technically it is. But even more insidious is the newer tact the theocrats are taking, and that is to make inseparable the idea that religion is patriotism. If you think I’m a bit paranoid, check out this comment from a local elected official.

“Councilwoman Sherry Marquez, who was elected in April, said she proposed the motto not to promote religion but rather to reflect patriotism. I'm not bringing my religious beliefs into here. I'm bringing my Americanism and patriotism in here. I don't think there's anything wrong with that."

“Americans United for the Separation of Church and State spokesman Joe Conn said, “It's about pushing one religious perspective…the fundamentalist Christians want government to reflect their views of religion…this is a step toward that…"

Conn has the last part right. Again, this is an attempt to join Christianity to patriotism, plain and simple. It can't and won't be challenged in court. He is right to say; it is a step toward a Christian government.

The article also gives us a little background on the current legal precedent. “So far judges have ruled that the motto's use on currency does not violate the First Amendment's prohibition on the establishment of religion, The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 1970 that "its use is of patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no true resemblance to a governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise."

I hope you got that bit about “its use is of patriotic or ceremonial character.” That’s the Circuit Courts unintentional suggestion that perhaps being a God fearing Christian is also patriotic. But the kicker to this story; its only the beginning. “Bakersfield City Councilwoman Jacquie Sullivan leads an effort to bring the motto to city halls across the state. (She says) ‘The highest form of American patriotism is love of God and love of country."

I feel an uneasiness that I have never felt before. Could this be the bullet that slowly and unavoidably kills our young democracy?

I never said I was an optimist.

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