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Colorado's Republican Representative Bob Schaffer spoke in favor of the Cold War-era U.S. National Motto, "In God We Trust," by insisting that it "unites us as a people and has made us the greatest country on the planet."
Excuse me, I had always assumed that's what the original Motto did, the Motto written by Franklin and Jefferson, when they said, "E Pluribus Unum" -- "Of the Many, One." Our original Motto is what (at one time) made us the most admired of all nations. It taught us that sense of inclusiveness for which we were renowned.
That grandeur ended in 1957, when the 84th Congress passed P.L. 84-140.
Since then, it's no longer Lincoln's "government of the people, by the people, for the people" but something else entirely -- something that suspiciously resembles the tyranny of an exclusive brotherhood. At least that's what the 1957 National Motto (and several other messages) appear to be telling us: Some groups are favored.
This is an election year in the United States. Be afraid. Be very afraid. In order to nudge the polls a bit, some will take any hot-button issue and make it into law -- sacrificing our Liberty, our dignity, and, in this case, our very sense of citizenship and belonging, just so they gain political power.
And as we saw with the "In God We Trust" fiasco, not all of this twaddle can be undone in the courts. And just to rub our noses in it, many "Christian Nation" revisionists point to "In God We Trust" on our money to "prove" that this has always been a "Christian Nation." Be very afraid.
Now that U.S. District Court Judge Joseph M. Hood has ruled that Kentucky officials may not erect a monument to the Protestant version of the Hebrew Ten Commandments on the grounds of the state capitol, Republican Presidential candidate George W. Bush tips his hat to Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, and rest of the Religious Right, by endorsing a platform that reeks of intolerance and by sucking up to the extreme right wing.
The latest attack against nonreligious folks, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, has support from as diverse organizations as the Family Research Council, the Baptist Joint Committee, and the American Civil Liberties Union.
I'm all for letting imprisoned Satanists force prison systems to buy gongs so they can perform rituals -- even though one convinced a judge in 1995 to require the Colorado prison system to do just that, with the laws reading as they do today.
No. It's not about religious liberty at all. It's about control. It's about certain people having an advantage over the others.
The United States was not formed with the idea of giving anybody an advantage, but by declaring that all are equal. "Of the Many, One"! Jefferson said, "If anything pass in a religious meeting ... contrary to the public peace, let it be punished ... no otherwise than as if it had happened in a ... market." In other words, if it's legal for anyone, it should be legal for everyone.
This covers polygamy and peyote and everything else: if any can do it, all should be allowed. What's wrong for any is wrong for all. This, to me, is the American way.
Copyright ©2000 Cliff Walker; Portland, Oregon