In God we trust

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In God we trust

Postby miakoda » Wed May 02, 2007 9:07 pm UTC

So, I live in Indiana - midwest US. (Shh, don't tell.) And at the beginning of the year, the state introduced a new optional passenger-vehicle license plate with the image of a flag and "In God We Trust" in large, friendly letters to the left of the actual plate number. All this time I've been thinking they were specialty plates, meaning people had paid to pay the extra fee for a plate that shows their allegiance to a particular cause or group (they do these for breast cancer research, universities, the arts, etc.). I just found out today that no, there is no associated fee for requesting one of these license plates.

LA Times wrote:The state says the new "In God We Trust" plate is not a specialty plate — like dozens of others it offers — but rather a second "standard" plate, like the one that features a pastoral scene, and is thus not subject to special fees.


As expected, the ACLU has filed suit regarding the fairness of offering the religious plate without the additional fee, since it is, in essence, free promotion of a particular religion by a government office.

I should point out, the only other affiliation-based plates that do not currently require the extra fee, as far as I know, are the plates that designate military veterans and other military service affiliations. Mike McDaniel (R) mentioned this point on "Indiana Week in Review" to link the wholesomeness of promoting religion to supporting our veterans, implying that those who opposed free access to the IGWT plates were unpatriotic enough to also force military veterans pay the fee for their special plates. (The ACLU hasn't mentioned the military plates at all, as far as I can tell.)

Meanwhile, the quote most often given in support of the new plates isn't from legislators, but from Curt Smith, president of the Indiana Family Institute (a faith-based organization, though the papers rarely mention that):

Curt Smith, president of the Indiana Family Institute, supports the free plates. "In God We Trust" is the national motto, he said.

"We mention God in the Declaration of Independence and in many of our founding documents and so I think it's very appropriate and legitimate to encourage the dissemination of this phrase," Smith told the newspaper.


Ah, welcome to Indiana. :)

Personally, I'm taking the same position I do with displaying the 10 Commandments on government property: sure, go ahead, but you have to allow other religions to display their creeds, too. I really don't have anything against someone making a show of support for their religion (or non-religion), it's the implied governmental favoritism that bugs me. There's no way they'd ever allow an "In Goddess/Science/Buddha/etc. We Trust" plate, after all.

Also, I don't understand why the Bureau of Motor Vehicles feels it's appropriate to waive the minimum $15 administrative fee for this particular plate. Because they couldn't figure out who should profit from the fees collected? That's ludicrous. Our governor is on a mad privatization spree, selling off everything he can get his hands on, from the toll road, to the state lottery and prison management. Why couldn't the fee be applied to road construction or education, or something else that benefits everyone?




Sources:
LA Times article
Indianapolis Star
Indiana Family Institute
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Postby cmacis » Wed May 02, 2007 9:15 pm UTC

I'm a Christian, but church and state need to keep their distance. There should be mutual respect but no influence. If no other reason than power corrupts, and that is not something the church needs more of.
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Postby Phenriz » Wed May 02, 2007 9:47 pm UTC

1) it's a piece of metal that's replaced every few years
2) it's a saying that's on our currency and can be construed as a "motto"
3) it's a relatively small piece of metal


bottom line is, who fucking cares? I'm not christian, i don't find it offensive, why is it that people find inane stuff like this to be offensive? If i want a license plate bezel that says, "HAIL SATAN" i can find one and put it on my car.

if a state operated outlet chooses to offer something for free that's their business. It's available to all citizens of that area, correct? there's no discrimination happening, because everyone can get it. Just because it's not in the flavor/color of your choice doesn't give you the "right" to file a subpeona.

The ACLU is almost as much of a joke that PETA has been lately.
Last edited by Phenriz on Wed May 02, 2007 9:50 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Belial » Wed May 02, 2007 9:50 pm UTC

It remains state-funded free advertisement for christianity.

I'm not thrilled about my tax money, as an atheist, going to christianity. That's not what I signed up for when the consitution was all "no established religion".

So it is kindof an issue.
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Postby Phenriz » Wed May 02, 2007 9:53 pm UTC

So you find money an issue as well, "In God We Trust" is on the back of every dollar bill, i'm sure our tax money still goes to fund the production of notes in some way or is it just now convenient to complain about it?

It could also be an advertisement for Judaism, technically.


This doesn't breach the line of the government putting a cross, a star of david, or a crescent in every home, as it's not a federal mandate. I could be wrong though.
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Postby cmacis » Wed May 02, 2007 10:11 pm UTC

Aye "God" is usually taken to be the monotheistic deity of Judaism, Chrisianity or Islam.
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Postby kira » Wed May 02, 2007 10:26 pm UTC

Phenriz wrote:So you find money an issue as well, "In God We Trust" is on the back of every dollar bill, i'm sure our tax money still goes to fund the production of notes in some way or is it just now convenient to complain about it?


Are you joking? Non-theists have been complaining about "In God We Trust" for eons. Now there's just a new thing to complain about.

QUIT PUTTING GOD ALL OVER MY MONEY.
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Postby Akira » Wed May 02, 2007 10:37 pm UTC

America: Love it or leave it.

Personally, I beleive that this whole issue is getting out of hand.

Nobody, of course, takes into account that the original "freedom of religion" meant "freedom to be protestants and not catholics". They didn't expect fifty million other religions to pop up and decide they wanted thier cut.

Get over it already. It's here to stay, and will be for at least another three or four decades.
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Postby Phenriz » Wed May 02, 2007 10:45 pm UTC

eons, really?

I guess i went to the school of atheism that doesn't care if other people have a religion. And choose to promote it. I don't have a trapdoor beneath my welcome mat for Jehovah's Witnesses. OMGZ THEY STEPPED ON MY WALKWAY PREACHING JESUS I"M SCARRED.

It's not like we're trying to combat the forces of an oppressive government sanctioned church (church of england during revolutionary times, comes to mind)

If you wanna get right down to it, it's not your money, shit it's not even ours. Our taxes may pay for some of it, but money is property of the federal government.


All i mean to say is, there are more important things to worry about than the BMV of Indiana putting "In God We Trust" OPTIONALLY on license plates.
Last edited by Phenriz on Wed May 02, 2007 11:48 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby 3.14159265... » Wed May 02, 2007 11:06 pm UTC

Akira wrote:America: Love it or leave it.

Personally, I beleive that this whole issue is getting out of hand.

Nobody, of course, takes into account that the original "freedom of religion" meant "freedom to be protestants and not catholics". They didn't expect fifty million other religions to pop up and decide they wanted thier cut.

Get over it already. It's here to stay, and will be for at least another three or four decades.


EXACTLY!

Those stupid people that got the french revolution going, yah like it or leave who cares about reason, and democracy.

People working in unions that got us out of 12 hour work days, WHATS WRONG WITH U!

Who ever said anything about a society where state and religion are seperated.

I mean as Americans, you should be prosecuting all people that are against protestanism. Start killing the catholics, specialy those muslims, they are really like witches.... burning is good.

All the power to this great god, that made our lord and savior jesus christ walk on water.

Whats wrong with you people asking for freedom or religion, and seperation of church and state, almost as if you were athiests... and not religious.


*sarcasm may have been used*
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Postby bbctol » Wed May 02, 2007 11:25 pm UTC

Personally, I would say that if "In God We Trust" bothers you, you need to get over it. If the government is giving away "LOVE JESUS" banners, I'm angry, but there are somethings I just don' care about.

Also, Indiana isn't really what I'd call the Midwest... and I didn't think it was that religious... but I learn no things every day.

EDIT: The "don'" is unintentional, but I'm keeping it.
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Postby Belial » Wed May 02, 2007 11:49 pm UTC

Akira wrote:Nobody, of course, takes into account that the original "freedom of religion" meant "freedom to be protestants and not catholics". They didn't expect fifty million other religions to pop up and decide they wanted thier cut.


Or freedom to be deist, in the case of a number of the founding fathers. Which is about as close to atheism as most people got, back then.

Phenriz wrote:I guess i went to the school of atheism that doesn't care if other people have a religion. And choose to promote it. I don't have a trapdoor beneath my welcome mat for Jehovah's Witnesses. OMGZ THEY STEPPED ON MY WALKWAY PREACHING JESUS I"M SCARRED.


Phenriz wrote:All i mean to say is, there are more important things to worry about than the BMV if Indiana putting "In God We Trust" OPTIONALLY on license plates.


Clearly, it's impossible to think something is *inappropriate* unless it's:

A) So traumatic you need therapy to cope with your PTSD
B) The *MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE WORLD*.

This is because disapproval and anger are finite quantities, and must be rationed only to those causes that are absolutely vital. Minor causes should just be ignored until they *become* major causes.

In other words, we should just let right wing protestantism insert itself further and further into government and the public arena. And then, when it *becomes* state sponsored religion, we will be authorized to care.

"A stitch in time saves nine" was propaganda by people who were not appropriately hip and apathetic, and should be ignored.
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Postby kira » Thu May 03, 2007 12:27 am UTC

Akira wrote:America: Love it or leave it.

Personally, I beleive that this whole issue is getting out of hand.

Nobody, of course, takes into account that the original "freedom of religion" meant "freedom to be protestants and not catholics". They didn't expect fifty million other religions to pop up and decide they wanted thier cut.

Get over it already. It's here to stay, and will be for at least another three or four decades.


How about "Life: Love it or leave it"? Since you just complained about the fact that people aren't always happy with America's policies, you obviously are not completely satisfied with life. People complain. Get over it.

Also, just because they didn't originally plan for so much religious freedom doesn't mean that it's not a fucking excellent idea. Freedom of religion for all. No religion in government.
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Postby Owijad » Thu May 03, 2007 12:44 am UTC

Akira wrote:America: Love it or leave it.


No, that'd be Soviet Russia. Here it's "America: Love it or change it."


3.14159265... wrote:I mean as Americans, you should be prosecuting all people that are against protestanism. Start killing the catholics, specialy those muslims, they are really like witches.... burning is good.


You mean "persecuted". Prosecuted would be suing them.
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Postby cmacis » Thu May 03, 2007 12:47 am UTC

Or imprisoning them.
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Postby Alisto » Thu May 03, 2007 1:15 am UTC

It's not offensive, it's inappropriate. It also opens the doors for more and more state-sponsored religion, something that many people are unwilling to accept.

The ACLU defends a lot of stupid things. They have to, because it's all or nothing. Civil rights aren't something that are accepted on a case-by-case basis.

In God We Trust shouldn't be on money.

Federalist Papers, Treaty of Tripoli. But regardless of whether "Freedom of Religion" is meant to only apply to Protestants, Separation of Church and State means it doesn't matter.
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Postby toysbfun » Thu May 03, 2007 1:49 am UTC

Well, Jesus told Peter that people should pay their taxes, so I'm not sure God would approve of tax-exempt vanity plates. In fact, I've said on another forum that I think God would rather people not buy the vanity plate and give the money saved to charity.
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Postby Akira » Thu May 03, 2007 2:20 am UTC

kira wrote:
Akira wrote:America: Love it or leave it.

Personally, I beleive that this whole issue is getting out of hand.

Nobody, of course, takes into account that the original "freedom of religion" meant "freedom to be protestants and not catholics". They didn't expect fifty million other religions to pop up and decide they wanted thier cut.

Get over it already. It's here to stay, and will be for at least another three or four decades.


How about "Life: Love it or leave it"? Since you just complained about the fact that people aren't always happy with America's policies, you obviously are not completely satisfied with life. People complain. Get over it.

Also, just because they didn't originally plan for so much religious freedom doesn't mean that it's not a fucking excellent idea. Freedom of religion for all. No religion in government.


1.) Didn't complain. Stated a fact.

2.) Wasn't opposing. Just stating a bloody fact.
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Postby miakoda » Thu May 03, 2007 2:23 pm UTC

Alisto wrote:It's not offensive, it's inappropriate. It also opens the doors for more and more state-sponsored religion, something that many people are unwilling to accept.


Exactly. I honestly don't have a problem with Christians expressing their religion. Hell, I work at a Catholic University, where we're pretty much inundated with religious subtexts at every turn. And I realize that the majority of the people around me are Christian of one denomination or another. I'm comfortable enough in my own path that I don't feel threatened by it - just a little bemused, sometimes.

Geographically it may not be, but yes, Indiana considers itself both part of the Midwest and a proud annex to the Bible Belt. Traditionally, we've been extremely conservative in terms of religion, morality and politics. This is what I grew up with, so it's normal to me, even if I don't like it. Which is why I didn't bat an eye when I started seeing the plates. Sure, I'd have liked one for my own religion (ha - now that would've raised some eyebrows, I'm sure), but that's just not economically feasible for the state. These things happen.

What does bother me is that this is very much a reflection of the people in charge of the state in which I live. The majority of our lawmakers really don't understand that this is inappropriate, much less why. Frustrating, but par for the course, here: we're still trying to get sexual orientation language added to the anti-discrimination laws in my current city, among other things. We have to constantly remind them that Indiana isn't the snow-white, Christian kingdom they pretend it to be.

To those who say, "get over it," I'm afraid I can't. Nothing changes if you ignore a problem and allow it to grow. I'm of the opinion that apathy is perhaps the greatest evil.

Yes, I know I probably take note of these things more because I follow a minority religion, but I thought I'd throw it out to see what you lovely people had to say. :)
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Postby Belial » Thu May 03, 2007 2:35 pm UTC

To those who say, "get over it," I'm afraid I can't. Nothing changes if you ignore a problem and allow it to grow. I'm of the opinion that apathy is perhaps the greatest evil.


Very true. It's also a very trendy evil these days.
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Postby CDarklock » Thu May 03, 2007 2:42 pm UTC

miakoda wrote:What does bother me is that this is very much a reflection of the people in charge of the state in which I live.


And... shouldn't the license plates for that state reflect those people?

Fundamentally, God is a concept, not a religion. Religion is the notion that God wants you to do things. So what's wrong with trust in this concept?
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Postby Belial » Thu May 03, 2007 3:01 pm UTC

Religion also encompasses the belief in the existence of that concept. Or trusting in it, as the case may be.
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Postby CDarklock » Thu May 03, 2007 3:15 pm UTC

Belial wrote:Religion also encompasses the belief in the existence of that concept.


What do you have a problem with about God that isn't a matter of religious dogma?

Omnipresence? Religious.
Omnipotence? Religious.
Omniscience? Religious.
Fall of man? Religious.
Virgin birth? Religious.
Jesus? Religious.
Hell? Religious.
Sin? Religious.

In fact, when you come down to it, "In God we trust" is not all that different from "In gravity we trust". You can have all the problems you want with the idea that gravity loves you and watches over you and has a special list of things you shouldn't do, and I'd probably agree with you.

But you still can't fly.
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Postby Belial » Thu May 03, 2007 3:25 pm UTC

What do you have a problem with about God that isn't a matter of religious dogma?


Existence. Relevance.
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Postby Hawknc » Thu May 03, 2007 3:27 pm UTC

Could the concept of God exist without religion, though?
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Postby Belial » Thu May 03, 2007 3:28 pm UTC

That depends on how you define religion. As a set of beliefs about the supernatural, no.

Also, it's a simple question of context.

If I get a license plate that says "White Pride", then semantically, yes, it *could* mean that I'm just proud of my european heritage. Isn't it nice to have pride in who we are?

But contextually, anyone who hasn't been living in a cave for the last two centuries is pretty aware that it's a charged statement about racial superiority. Any attempt to equivocate otherwise is pretty much just being sneaky.

Edit: Hell, if you read it out of context enough, it could just mean you're really excited about the *colour*. But you know that's not what it means, and I know that's not what it means.
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Postby CDarklock » Thu May 03, 2007 3:38 pm UTC

Belial wrote:Existence. Relevance.


Aren't those also dogmatic?

Hawknc wrote:Could the concept of God exist without religion, though?


Sure. Why wouldn't it? We have a concept of infinity; in practical terms, that also doesn't exist and isn't relevant. Why aren't people complaining about infinity?
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Postby Belial » Thu May 03, 2007 3:39 pm UTC

Aren't those also dogmatic?


And professing that we trust in god is making a statement on those two fronts. Thus, professing dogma.

Also, see statements regarding context.
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Postby gmalivuk » Thu May 03, 2007 3:48 pm UTC

bbctol wrote:Also, Indiana isn't really what I'd call the Midwest... and I didn't think it was that religious... but I learn no things every day.


Have you ever been to Indiana?
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Postby CDarklock » Thu May 03, 2007 3:48 pm UTC

Belial wrote:And professing that we trust in god is making a statement on those two fronts.


You're confusing the existence of the concept with the existence of an entity that embodies it.

Also, see statements regarding context.


We've printed "in God we trust" on all of our money for over two hundred years. The position that this has somehow started to mean something dark and sinister is rather like a conspiracy theory.
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Postby Belial » Thu May 03, 2007 3:54 pm UTC

You're confusing the existence of the concept with the existence of an entity that embodies it.


So you seriously mean to suggest that the statement "In God we Trust" is meant to mean "I trust in the fact that I can imagine a god"? Or are you just being argumenative?

We've printed "in God we trust" on all of our money for over two hundred years. The position that this has somehow started to mean something dark and sinister is rather like a conspiracy theory.


No. I believe it's an outdated and inappropriate expression of religious affiliation that we should have grown out of by now, in order to better live up to our nation's own principles.

I believe the push to plaster it on *new* mediums, on the government dime, and the efforts to *resist its removal* from more antiquated mediums, is something more sinister. I am corroborated by the very people doing it, who are always loud and proud about how it's an effort to "remind" people that this is a "nation founded on christianity" and so forth.

When the people doing it pretty much admit to it openly, it's kindof hard to argue that it's something more innocent.
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Postby CDarklock » Thu May 03, 2007 4:19 pm UTC

Belial wrote:So you seriously mean to suggest that the statement "In God we Trust" is meant to mean "I trust in the fact that I can imagine a god"?


No, I suggest that the motto was chosen largely to permit and indeed encourage alternate interpretations of what exactly "God" means.

I believe it's an outdated and inappropriate expression of religious affiliation that we should have grown out of by now, in order to better live up to our nation's own principles.


I don't agree. I believe it recognises the fundamental reality that government does not rule by divine right, as is claimed of the monarchy, but by the will of the people. I believe it establishes the government as a collective man-made construct which is no less accountable to the divine than any other man or man-made construct.

And I believe that is a necessary understanding. Whether we remove it by elevating the government to stand beside God Himself, or by denying that God belongs in the picture at all, it is destructive to remove the accountability of the government. I believe this notion, even when misunderstood, has positive results that must not be discarded.

I am corroborated by the very people doing it, who are always loud and proud about how it's an effort to "remind" people that this is a "nation founded on christianity" and so forth.


The arguments of stupid people may be stupid, but that doesn't make their positions invalid. The christian faith depends on a fundamental self-delusion that they are right and everyone else is wrong. To hold that faith, you must deny as delusional all other interpretations.

So they can't take my position, because it's contradictory to the precepts of their belief system. They have to say something dumb, just like atheists have to run around proposing flying spaghetti monsters, because it's an argument that tends to be understandable and agreeable to the average person they try to convince. This should not be confused with it being a good argument.
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Postby Owijad » Thu May 03, 2007 4:25 pm UTC

CDarklock wrote:
I don't agree. I believe it recognises the fundamental reality that government does not rule by divine right, as is claimed of the monarchy, but by the will of the people. I believe it establishes the government as a collective man-made construct which is no less accountable to the divine than any other man or man-made construct.

And I believe that is a necessary understanding. Whether we remove it by elevating the government to stand beside God Himself, or by denying that God belongs in the picture at all, it is destructive to remove the accountability of the government. I believe this notion, even when misunderstood, has positive results that must not be discarded.




That is your personal interpretation, but you can hardly claim that that's the true meaning of the phrase, or even the most popularly accepted.

Also, what's wrong with denying that God belongs in the picture?
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Postby LE4dGOLEM » Thu May 03, 2007 4:33 pm UTC

CDarklock wrote:They have to say something dumb, just like atheists have to run around proposing flying spaghetti monsters


Stop oppressing my religion.
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Postby CDarklock » Thu May 03, 2007 4:39 pm UTC

Owijad wrote:That is your personal interpretation, but you can hardly claim that that's the true meaning of the phrase, or even the most popularly accepted.


I think when a country is being founded by colonists fleeing the perceived oppression of a monarchy, the denial of divine right might be very much on their minds. Whether most people today understand this is rather irrelevant.

Also, what's wrong with denying that God belongs in the picture?


The same thing that's wrong with DEMANDING that God belongs in the picture.

YOU must be allowed to decide whether God belongs in the picture or not, and to express your decision. So if you don't want a license plate that says something about God, you should not be forced to have one. But likewise, if you DO want one, you should not be forbidden to have one.

I view this motto in much the same way I view the Confederate flag. Regardless of your personal dislike for its meaning as YOU understand it, the symbol represents an important chapter of our nation's history, and those who honor and respect what it means to them should be permitted and encouraged to display it.
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Postby CDarklock » Thu May 03, 2007 4:40 pm UTC

LE4dGOLEM wrote:Stop oppressing my religion.


I didn't oppress your religion! I just called it stupid and pointless. Isn't that fair? ;)
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Postby Belial » Thu May 03, 2007 4:48 pm UTC

YOU must be allowed to decide whether God belongs in the picture or not, and to express your decision. So if you don't want a license plate that says something about God, you should not be forced to have one. But likewise, if you DO want one, you should not be forbidden to have one.


Okay. As "God" is understood to be the monotheistic god of the abrahamic religions, shouldn't there then be state-sponsored license plates affirming the existence of every other belief configuration possible? By failing to sponsor such, aren't they basically saying that the abrahamic religions are *better* than hinduism, paganism (of all the various stripes), zoroastrianism, animism, and so forth?

It's easier to just say that citizens' personal beliefs about the existence or nonexistence of god is their own business, and that the government will say nothing on the subject.

I think when a country is being founded by colonists fleeing the perceived oppression of a monarchy, the denial of divine right might be very much on their minds. Whether most people today understand this is rather irrelevant.


Indeed, and it was totally relevant when we founded the country in 1956.....

Wait.

No, I guess we founded the country in 1864....
Last edited by Belial on Thu May 03, 2007 4:56 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Alisto » Thu May 03, 2007 4:56 pm UTC

A few points:

-History of "In God We Trust" on currency. It first appeared in 1864.

-The argument, "Well it doesn't say the Christian God, so it can mean ANY religion!" is ridiculous. As Belial pointed out with his "white pride" example, it's all about context. No one who sees one of these plates is going to think the driver of that car is a fan of Einstein's concept of God. That argument only exists as a way to try to get away with something that they know is wrong.

-I hope CDarklock is just playing Devil's Advocate here, because some of the arguments are absurd. No one is arguing about infinity because no one is putting "In Infinity We Trust" on a license plate or on money. Even if they did, it comes back to context. There's not a religion based on Infinity. "In God We Trust" says two things: First, that there is a God, something many people disagree with; two, that we trust him. Why put faith in something that doesn't exist?
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Postby Belial » Thu May 03, 2007 4:58 pm UTC

-History of "In God We Trust" on currency. It first appeared in 1864.


Yeah, sorry, I edited. I was going from when we declared it our national motto, replacing the much better and more inspirational "E Pluribus Unum"
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Postby Owijad » Thu May 03, 2007 5:00 pm UTC

CDarklock wrote:
Owijad wrote:That is your personal interpretation, but you can hardly claim that that's the true meaning of the phrase, or even the most popularly accepted.


I think when a country is being founded by colonists fleeing the perceived oppression of a monarchy, the denial of divine right might be very much on their minds. Whether most people today understand this is rather irrelevant.



Uh, no. The phrase is generally accepted as having been coined in 1814, well after any foreign religious persecution became irrelevant, and was first introduced to currency during the Civil War.

It is purely an acknowledgment of the Christian God's power. So...
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