I was forwarded the results of an NBC “poll” this week about whether or not the words “In God We Trust” and “God” belonged in the Pledge of Allegiance. The indigant author of the spam pointed out that NBC had the highest number of responses that they’ve ever had to a poll, with results as follows:
86% in favor of keeping the words “In God We Trust” and “God” in the Pledge of Allegiance
The instructions in the spam indicated that I was supposed to forward the email on to other people if I agreed with the poll, or delete it if I didn’t.
I decided to write about it here instead.
First of all, either the author of the spam is mistaken, or the poll is wrong. The words “In God We Trust” do not appear in the Pledge of Allegience. They appear on the back of our currency. The word “God” does appear in the Pledge of Allegience, however, in the phrase “One nation, under God…”
The spam goes on to say:
It is said that 86% of Americans believe in God. Therefore, I have a very hard time understanding why there is such a mess about having “In God We Trust” on our money and having God in the Pledge of Allegience. Why is the world catering to this 14%?
It is also said that a large percentage of Americans “believe in” U.F.O.’s, and Elvis sightings. Belief alone does not imply proof. In fact, the whole notion of faith is that no proof is necessary, you simply believe. As far as why the “world” is catering to this 14%, I can only ask a few questions:
Why the world? Did the author of the spam mean “nation”?
How is the “world” catering to this 14%? I just pulled my money out of my pocket and I see the words “In God We Trust” on the back of every bill. Last I checked, when most people say the Pledge of Allegience, they still include the word God.
The issue here, the “mess”, as the spam author suggests, has to do with the fact that the first clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution says that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Over two centuries of constitutional law have interpretted this clause to mean a “separation of Church and State”, that the state should not in any way interfere with religion, nor should the state be in favor of or sponsor any one religion. Only a narrow look at religion as a whole would indicate that the notion of “God” is part of all religions, when in fact it is not. By included the words “In God We Trust” or other referecnes to “God”, some people see it as the government supporting one form (a Judeo-Christian one at that) of religion over others.
Whatever one’s religious beliefs, the state should not interfere with them, so long as they are not causing harm to others. That is why the 14% are imporant.
It’s my opinion that email like this goes around to support the fragile egos of people who are uncertain of their own faith (or lack thereof) in an effort to gather reinforcement that they are, in fact, right in their beliefs. True faith, I imagine, doesn’t require this kind of second guessing.