In God We Trust. In Congress, Not So Much.


The US House of Representatives will work only 109 days next year, so you’d think members might want to cram as much work as they into what’s left of 2011 to deal with many critical national issues, like addressing massive unemployment. Instead, Republican lawmakers are thinking more about “Job’s Creator.” Today, House members will vote on a non-binding resolution reaffirming “In God We Trust” as the national motto.

In January, prayer caucus member Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), introduced a resolution to reaffirm the motto after President Obama made the serious faux pas of saying in a speech in Indonesia that the national motto was “e pluribus unum,” or “out of many, one.” The prayer caucus members were outraged and demanded that Obama issue a correction to the speech, but the White House ignored them. Hence today’s vote on Forbes’ resolution. Forbes and his colleagues believe that “In God We Trust” is under assault by godless atheists who want the phrase scrubbed from everything from US currency to national monuments to public schools. They are bent on defending the motto from “rogue court challenges” and lefties like Obama.

The Senate passed its own resolution in 2006, on the 50th anniversary of the phrase’s official dedication as the nation’s motto. The House resolution, which will have absolutely no effect on anything whatsoever, declares that “if religion and morality are taken out of the marketplace of ideas, the very freedom on which the United States was founded cannot be secured.”

House Democrats aren’t especially fond of the measure, which they consider a pretty big waste of time. In March, Democrats on the Judiciary committee wrote in a committee report:

Instead of addressing any of these critical issues, and instead of working to help American families keep a roof over their heads and food on their tables, we are debating whether or not to affirm and proliferate a motto that was adopted in 1956 and that is not imperiled in any respect… Without question, the Judiciary Committee has many important and time-sensitive matters within its purview. The majority, however, seems intent on diverting the committee’s time, resources and attention to a measure that has no force of law, only reaffirms existing law and further injects the hand of government into the private religious lives of the American people.

There’s also some irony in the Republicans taking up this resolution: When Republicans assumed the majority this year, they banned most of these sort of worthless commemorative resolutions because they considered them a waste of time. As the Washington Post reports, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor even refused to move forward any resolution honoring the military and intelligence folks who killed Osama bin Laden. When the Post asked Cantor this week whether the “In God We Trust” resolution might be one of those waste-of-time symbolic gestures the GOP was trying to get rid of, his office declined to comment.

 

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