Posted on July 30, 2019
Our trust in God is in the Declaration
All public schools in the state of South Dakota are now required to display the words, “In God We Trust,” in a prominent, common area so that they may be seen by the students. Naturally, anti-religious, anti-American bigots like the Freedom From Religion Foundation find this intolerable.
The FFRF describes this requirement, which was signed into law by Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, as “inaccurate, exclusionary, and aimed at brainwashing American schoolchildren into believing that our nation is a theocracy.” Seriously, for liberal activists to accuse others of brainwashing schoolchildren is like the Cookie Monster critiquing someone else’s table manners. How many millions of students have been “taught” that the universe and everything in it, including human life, came about by accident? Or that the history of our nation is one that is primarily characterized by injustice and shame? Or that human prosperity is destroying the earth? The FFRF itself would have children believe that the United States was founded as an atheist nation, but was seized by googly-eyed religious maniacs at some point since.
Later in its cut-and-paste press release, variations of which it uses for all occasions, the FFRF points out that “In God We Trust” was only adopted as our national motto during the Eisenhower administration. Even so, it’s our national motto, so how can there be any controversy over displaying it in public schools? Besides, the phrase was being engraved on our coins as far back as 1864, somewhat earlier than the “height of 1950s zealotry” the FFRF bemoans. “In God We Trust” is really just a rephrasing of the clause, “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence” from the Declaration of Independence. (So much for its being inaccurate.) Would it be “brainwashing” to post a plaque in a school bearing that quotation as well?
The real beef the FFRF has with acknowledging God’s role in our nation’s founding has to do with another reference in the Declaration, the one that says we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, including the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That’s because the FFRF was founded by the late Anne Nicol Gaylor, along with her daughter, Annie Laurie Gaylor, for the purpose of preserving legal abortion.
If that sounds terribly convoluted, it shouldn’t. If God is not the source of our rights to life, liberty and property, then it follows that these rights are granted to us by our fellow human beings, and thus are subjectively defined and without permanency. Therefore, they may be taken away by those who hold sufficient physical, political or other power over us. Just consider it their “choice.”
One needn’t be religious to see how such a philosophy would become an open invitation to tyranny. Even if you’re totally convinced that there is no God, our founders’ presumption that there is, and that He is the source of our most fundamental rights, serves to protect you just as much as it does the next person. If this protection has the adverse side effect of making you feel “excluded,” then so be it.
Whenever the FFRF protests any reference to God in a public context, it’s perfectly aware that it hasn’t got a valid constitutional point in the world. It typically gets its way by filing frivolous, harassing lawsuits, the targets of which cannot afford to defend themselves, so they relent. For example, the organization is now suing the city of Parkersburg, WV, to stop its city council from opening meetings with a voluntary prayer, on the basis that two atheist Parkersburg residents have somehow or other been “negatively impacted” by the practice. How can that possibly be? It can’t, but so what? The FFRF has the time and money to prosecute the case, and Parkersburg probably lacks the resources to resist it.
Indeed, such concerns nearly derailed the South Dakota law, until Gov. Noem and the legislature assured that the state, and not the school districts, would foot the bill for any resulting legal action. That’s probably why the FFRF is not threatening a suit in this case, but is only whining to the sympathetic media.
The impact of the motto’s display on the students would have been negligible, but perhaps this dispute over it can teach them a lesson. It’s all about how people who disapprove of our nation’s founding are willing to lie about it, and litigiously bully others into reinforcing those lies, so that they can rob millions of defenseless children of their God-given right to life.
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