Recently in Ohio, a group of 41 plaintiffs headed by attorney Michael Newdow filed a federal lawsuit in an effort to remove the phrase In God We Trust from U.S. currency.
Predictably, the move has religious conservatives all in a tizzy. Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson is so incensed, he has started a petition to “…urge President Obama and the Justice Department to defend our nation’s motto and affirm our Judeo-Christian values.”
“We must stamp out these blatant attempts to trample on our Constitution and whitewash our history,” says the petition, “All the way back to our founding, trust in God has been a bedrock principle of our nation and as your President, I will protect the Judeo-Christian values that made us great.”
Of course, the notion that the United States was founded on Judeo-Christian values – whatever that actually means – is complete nonsense and anyone who says it is betraying their complete lack of understanding when it comes to the nuances of American history. Furthermore, statements like the one made by Carson show a disturbing sympathy for theocracy. Politicians who parade religious faith as the “bedrock of America” are telling nonbelievers and, in Carson’s case, non Judeo-Christians, that not only are they not good Americans, they cannot be good Americans. Such sentiments are better suited to Saudi Arabia or Iran than they are a pluralistic nation like The United States.
Robert Ray, who runs The Original Motto Project, a group that opposes In God We Trust in favor of the more inclusive E Pluribus Unum (From many, one) said of Carson, “Ben Carson shows little, if any, understanding about how and why our nation was founded. His position promoting an obviously religious phrase on government property proves this. Shouldn’t a presidential candidates know something about our founding and the Constitution?”
Joe Zamecki, Marketing Director for The Original Motto Project, called Carson’s campaign “redundant,” saying the phrase is “plastered all over to begin with.”
Carson’s love of all things Jesus aside, the fortuitous timing of his petition strikes me as a little odd. With the Iowa Caucus just shy of two weeks away and Carson polling badly (a CNN poll puts him at only 10%), this may be a way to drum up support among the “War on Christmas” crowd. If that is the Carson campaign’s motivation, I seriously doubt it will make much difference in primary’s outcome: Carson is going to be stomped by Republicans Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, who, according to CNN, are practically tied at 27% and 25% respectively.
This last-ditch effort by Carson to pander to religious voters comes off as just plain silly and desperate. Do many Americans trust in God? Sure they do. The problem for Doctor Ben is that they don’t trust in him.
Image: Dr. Ben Carson / Facebook