Sometimes I argue simply for argument's sake. Afterall, being educated for three years by the Socratic method tends to leave one overly adapt at the skill. In classes I teach, I have as one of my goals a very simple outcome: teach the students to think. If I can accomplish that, then I have accomplished much. That said, I present a synopsis of a recent interaction regarding the placement of "In God We Trust" on U.S. currency. Although the following statement may not prevent readers from getting angry with me, I must preface the following with: I am not espousing a particular view, just trying to present another (often unspoken) view.
In Constitutional Law class, several students began debating the issue of whether or not "In God We Trust" should be on the currency. Indeed, some questioned whether it should be the country's motto. As should be expected, perhaps especially given that we are in the southeastern US, many students believed the phrase should be the country's motto and should remain on the currency. Their position stemmed from their belief that the country was founded upon Christian principles and, most importantly, derived from their professed deep commitment to the Christian faith. Class was coming to a close that day, so I dismissed them with a promise to respond during the next class period.
I walked in five minutes late to the next class. I went to the front of the room and got everyone's attention. "Today, instead of a lecture, I want to present a speech. After the debate last time, I feel I must respond." With that, I began my speech.
Many believe the country's motto is important because it proclaims a religious faith without which we would more rapidly sink into the profain. Many people are offended at the very notion of removing the motto from the currency. Many people believe that the Constitution declares this country to be a Christian country. Many people believe that "God" should be present in and on even more of this country's government creations and actions. I am here to tell you that those people should stand up as one and fight, and I mean fight for the motto's removal from all currency.
That's right. Some of you are happy to hear me say that. It pleases you to consider this nation moving away from such a strong Christian influence. Remember, though, that "In God We Trust" may apply even if "we" are not Christian. In this country, many faiths are represented, and almost all have a god. Therefore, the phrase should not offend any but those who believe there is no god, right? No! The fact that the phrase is on our currency especially should offend those who believe in god, and, perhaps, even more especially offend those who are Christian and believe the Bible is the Word of God.
Why? The Bible states that one shall not take or use the name of the Lord in vain. The Bible also says that one should be either hot or cold, to be otherwise will cause God to "spew" you from His mouth. I suggest to you that the Bible calls for a believer to embrace the Word, indeed, embrace the love of God with their whole being. True, it is a journey. True, most will never become wholly as Christ. Nevertheless, a believer who is "chasing God" must become as God. That believer's heart must break whenever they fall short of that goal. In fact, that believer's heart should break whenever God's heart breaks. I wonder if God's heart breaks every single time His name is used in vain. Afterall, such an act violates a commandment.
Disciples of Jesus were upset that Ceasar's likeness was placed on the currency. Jesus responded by telling them to chill out. He told them that the money belonged to the government. "Render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar's; render unto God what is God's." Wow. Money is used in so many vile ways. A believer should understand that the love of money is the root of evil. And that same believer will fight to keep God's name on the currency. Nevermind the fact that so many people, believers included, will spend money in some way which will not please God. I wonder if He likes His name to be passed from John to Hooker? from Child to Dealer? from Beleiver to the Scam-artist Televangelist? and on and on it goes....
Take the motto off the currency. To do otherwise only breaks God's heart. If you want prayer in schools, put it in your children's hearts. Trust me, if it is in their hearts, it will be in the schools. If you want God in this country, make sure God is in your heart. Make God your motto, and live accordingly. Love your neighbors. Do not judge. Test the spirits and protect your own, but do not condemn for that is not your job. Render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar's, learn to discern what is God's - and render that as commanded....
That is not all, but that is the gist of it. So, as you can guess, the class sat stunned for about 30 seconds. Then all hell broke lose. "To remove the motto would be tantamount to surrender!" And so forth. We had a great debate that day and for days afterward. The students were thinking. The believers dug deeper into their beliefs, analyzed, read the Bible. The nonbelievers thought more about Constitutional concepts and their own beliefs. No solution was reached, of course, but that was never the goal. If the students can begin to possess discernment, they will find wisdom. That, too, is a long journey.
Resources regarding the motto of the United States: