Editor, Casa Grande Dispatch:
No matter how much the religious right might wish for it, our founders did not create a Christian theocratic state nor a religious motto for our country. Our founders got it right with the secular motto “E pluribus unum — Out of many, one.” This motto emblazoned on the Great Seal of the United States captured their vision for our new nation. They saw the United States of America as a nation of people from many countries, many religions, many languages and many cultures who would live together in peace in a new country unified by a secular government.
Although it was never codified in law, “E pluribus unum” served as our de facto national motto for 174 years from 1782 until 1956 when, during the Eisenhower administration, “In God We Trust” — a Christian religious statement posing as a universal American civic principle and already on our coinage and paper money through Christian influence — became our “official” motto.
Today, governors and legislatures in many states (South Dakota is the most recent) are getting it wrong when they require by law a prominent display of “In God We Trust” in all public schools. Embedding one religious view in a “civic motto” and dictating its prominent display to influence all children in all public schools is dishonest, divisive and un-American. It is tantamount to government covertly imposing one religious view on all. The same can be said of the “official” motto itself.
This circumvention of the separation of church and state should be strongly condemned by all freedom-loving Americans who oppose theocracy and who comprehend the historic fact that the vision of our founders was secular government for all, not theocratic government for the chosen. Congress should reinvigorate that vision and reunite America by returning to the original national motto — “E pluribus unum — Out of many, one.”