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« Christmas Comes Early... The RantsFDA Uses Stupid Excuses to Conceal Asinine Agenda »

Newdow Launches Another Salvo
2005.11.15 (Tue) 19:45

God is for Suckers reports that activist atheist Michael Newdow is shooting for the stars in his new suit:

Michael Newdow said Sunday that he planned to file a federal lawsuit this week asking for the removal of the national motto, "In God We Trust," from U.S. coins and dollar bills. He claims it's an unconstitutional endorsement of religion and "excludes people who don't believe in God."

This was tried before, about 130 years after Salman P. Chase thought it would be a great idea to put a religious utterance on U.S. currency (and a mere four decades after Congress decreed it should be our national motto, printed on all U.S. currency). Unfortunately, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, who brought the suit in 1994, aimed a bit wide — they wanted "In God We Trust" to be removed both from currency and as the national motto — and their suit was dismissed by the Tenth Circuit court, never reaching the Supremes.

Amazingly, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the national motto on our currency "has a secular purpose, that its effect is not to endorse religion, and that it is not a prohibited entanglement." We find that truly outrageous. There's only one subset of humanity that believes in or accepts the existence of any god or gods — religious folks. There simply is no secular meaning that could possibly be attributed to an affirmation of trust in any religious concept or entity. Seriously, Tenth Circuit — wherever you're buying your crack, give us the address, because that must be some good stuff.

Newdow has apparently learned from both the FFRF outcome and his own suit to have the Pledge of Allegiance declared unconstitutional — a suit whose scope was narrowed by Judge Lawrence Karlton to apply only to the recitation of the Pledge in school. This time, Newdow isn't pulling out the big guns just yet — he isn't going after the national motto itself, only its appearance on U.S. currency.

Does this mean that it's okay for "In God We Trust" to remain the national motto of a secular country? Of course not. The phrase was, er, coined in the wake of the Civil War, with the popularity of religion on the rise, and effectively replaced the much more appropriate E Pluribus Unum during the anti-Communist scare of the 1950s. It has nothing to do with this country's core ideals, which were deliberately founded on (among other things) a separation of religion and government.

That said, however, we applaud Newdow's care and caution in chopping off some limbs before he tries to stab this beast in the heart. He's learned from his mistakes, and is taking this treacherous path one step at a time. Unfortunately, if anything, the make-up of the Supreme Court seems to have moved further into religious foolishness than where it was in 1996, when the justices refused to hear the FFRF's appeal, so perhaps the timing on this could be better. Still, it's a worthy cause, and a necessary fight, and we're behind Newdow all the way on this one.

In a remarkable show of prescience, we were just pondering this particular subject the other day. It's sad to us that religious and non-religious folks alike seem to think of a coin without the goddish motto as "an atheist coin" or "a secular coin," or at least they're forced to refer to it that way. It's certainly understandable — we've all been living with the current version for most or all of our lives. But to us, it logically is and politically should be quite the other way around — a coin without the motto is simply a coin, while one with the motto is a religious coin. We also find it telling that the religiosos are so insecure in their beliefs that they need them reinforced on every fucking available surface they can find, from money to government buildings to store decorations. If they really need to support their beliefs with all this government-enforced paraphernalia, then perhaps their beliefs are a bit shaky to begin with. And we certainly don't want to hear that all-too-common refrain about honoring the Christian tradition that, despite the assertions of the religiosos, this country was not founded upon. As Newdow points out:

It's not the history that counts. It's not the patriotism. What it is, is these people want to get their religious views in our government.

And people with intelligence and a respect for the Constitution aim to stop them.

—•—

You can read our other Rants on Michael Newdow for more information on his previous suit.


— • —
[  Filed under: % Civil Liberties  % Government & Politics  % Religion  ]

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