Wednesday, November 2, 2011

An Open Letter to the United States Congress

Dear Members of Congress,

I recently learned that you passed, overwhelmingly, a resolution (PDF) reaffirming "In God We Trust" as the official motto of the United States. I am left to wonder, why?

Have you, unbeknown to the rest of the country, implemented legislation to help create jobs? Have you worked to improve health care? Cut down our debt? Eliminate waste?

How much time did you take away from important matters to not only vote on this, but to draft, read, refer to committee, approve and all the steps required to bring this to the full House?

Maybe I'm wrong to chastise you for wasting time on a resolution that has no power in law and accomplishes nothing to address the issues facing our nation. So let me bring up something else. When you were elected to office, you swore to uphold the Constitution. Part of that document, the supreme law of our land, is that Congress "shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion". Although the resolution is not a law, it would seem to me, as well as some of your colleagues who opposed this resolution, that the spirit of the resolution violates the principles of the First Amendment.

Beyond this, the text of the resolution makes several errors of fact.
Whereas the sentiment, "In God We Trust", has been an integral part of United States society since its founding
This is not true. While many of the founders may have placed their trust in God, it was made quite clear in the writings of several of the founding fathers that this nation was a secular one. It should further be noted that it was not even the official motto of the United States until 1956.
Whereas in times of national challenge or tragedy, the people of the United States have turned to God as their source for sustenance, protection,wisdom, strength, and direction
Although this may be true of a majority of the people, it is not true as a blanket sentiment. There are many individuals who have turned to multiple gods or to no god at all, but rather have looked to one another for comfort and solidarity.
Whereas John Adams said, "Statesmen may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand."
While he may have said these words, the writers and backers of this resolution ignore what else President Adams wrote in the Treaty of Tripoli:
As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion
Concurrent Resolution 13 raises up one religion (or a class of religions) above all others. You have taken steps to exclude by sentiment those who do not believe in God, those who believe in multiple gods and those who have no belief in any deity of any sort. The language of the resolution makes it explicit that the intent of the resolution invokes religion, rather than a secular cause. Furthermore, wedding government and religion in such a manner sets a dangerous precedent. It is both bad politics and bad religion, for while Christianity is currently the dominant religion in this nation (in terms of number of practitioners), it may not always be so. Using the secular government of our nation for en explicitly religious reason such as this opens the door to further waste of time and resources, as well as the establishment of resolutions and language associated with religious matters in the future, to the detriment of all citizens of this country.

Those who drafted this resolution have shown a disrespect for the Constitution they are sworn to uphold. Those who voted in favor of this resolution have shown a disrespect for the citizens they purport to represent. Only those who, through careful thought and the courage to stay true to their duty, voted against this resolution are deserving of our praise and approbation.

I place my trust in the people around me. I trust in scientists and doctors to advance our knowledge and improve our well being. I trust in my friends, family and acquaintances, that they will do their best to improve their lot and that of everyone around them. I trust, rightly or (as evidenced by this resolution and the constant bickering along party lines) wrongly, in lawmakers to properly and truly serve all of the people they represent, not only those who happen to be in the majority or who give the most dollars.

That is a trust that you have broken. You have broken faith with the people of these United States. For the actions of people decide the fate of our nation. It is "we the people" who move this country forward. We the people will raise the nation up or, through ideology and greed, bring it crashing down.

I implore you, as individuals, elected by the people, purporting to represent our interests, do what is right and rescind this resolution. And if not, then I call upon those whose minds are like mine, to replace everyone who voted in favor of this resolution with someone who places the good of the nation, rather than the good of religion, first.

4 comments:

  1. Todd, do you mind if I copy/paste this to my elected representatives, especially if they voted for this?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Go right ahead. Anyone is welcome to copy this letter and send it on to their reps.

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  3. Hear, hear!

    Very well articulated indeed :)

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  4. You make a rational, historically accurate, evidence-based, cogent reply to the divisive, unconstitutional actions of our less than useless Congress. This was a breath of fresh air on such a dark day. I'm sharing this with my local Secular Humanist group.

    ReplyDelete

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