Saturday, March 01, 2008

In Allah We Trust

I've never been much of a crusader for the popular atheist causes of removing the Under God from the pledge of allegiance or the In God We Trust from the currency. I've always thought (and still do) that there are more important fights out there. It's not that I'm fond of the phrase Under God, but I see children pledging an oath of allegiance to a national symbol as a proto-fascist imposition that has no place in country supposedly founded upon the principle of personal liberty. Ron Rosenbaum put it quite well.
The pledge is a kind of forced confession of orthodoxy. No, not water-boarding, but coercion nonetheless. Especially for peer-group-pressured school kids. Even if they have the right to opt out. In past school-prayer cases, the court has resisted the idea that the state should be implicated in even the social coercion or propagation of religion.

Busybody school boards and bombastic anthem peddlers at ball games should let people find their way to allegiance in their own fashion rather than making "allegiance" an implement of state power used to extract oaths.

I say dump the entire pledge!

Now, In God We Trust never really offended me before. It was one of those things that I always just took for granted but didn't fret about because it didn't really impact my life. I might roll my eyes when I caught sight of it on a bill, but I wouldn't get upset.

Words themselves don't have any intrinsic offensiveness to them. It is when those words represent something that we find deeply repulsive--such as certain human behaviors--that the words take on their offensive character. And so it is that I have begun to find In God We Trust on my currency increasingly distasteful. The blame falls squarely on the fundamentalist offensive (did you like that double entendre?) to relabel the United States as a "Christian Nation." Many of these misinformed marionettes like to defend their claim with "It even says 'In God We Trust' on the money!" Never mind the sheer ludicrousness of that argument; I've come to realize that those four words serve no useful purpose other than as a rallying point for the fundagelical zombies. And so I'm beginning to agree with those people who already do find those words offensive.

Until recently, I had no concise way of conveying to a Christian why that would or even should be offensive to me. Then yesterday I read this post by VJACK that began thus:
How do you suppose American Christians would feel about using currency on which "Allahu Akbar" (Allah is the greatest) was printed?

Wow! That says it all. Without much hesitation, that line inspired Todd Sayre to create this little photoshoped beauty.

How would Christians feel if their money looked like that? Pretty offended would be my guess. Yet from my perspective, there's no difference: both statements are equally silly and neither belongs on legal tender. And yes, I am aware that the "God" from In God We Trust need not necessarily refer to the Christian God (try telling that to a fundamentalist), but as an atheist I find all gods to be as invalid as Allah is to Christians. So the analogy is a good one.


Peter Mc said...

And according to the BBC you've 'christened' USS New York. Must have been some font...

commander other said...

heh. and they certainly wouldn't like it if currency read, "In Delusion We Trust", either.

but that's exactly what they do.

The Science Pundit said...

In all fairness peter mc, the word christening is older than Christianity. It comes from the Greek for "anointed." However, you are right in that the word now seems inextricably linked to that religion.

Irish Eyes said...

I'll go with the "the slogan is part of American history and shouldn't be taken off" standpoint. That's what it is. Oh here's one for the atheists "I we trust." The space is for the nothing you believe in. I've always felt sorry for you guys. Simply because it must be a very depressing life to believe that this is it. Seriously, there's no God, no afterlife, no nothing. You just live and then die. Depressing. Or you can go with the other one I've heard from you guys. "love life, live life to the fullest, you only live once." So that should entitle you to do whatever you want to do. Either way its depressing. All your worried about is how to take a WORD or PHRASE out or off something. Piss and moan a little more about it cause I don't think we've heard enough about it. Let's take God out/off everything just to make the atheists happy. Come on fellow Catholics, the atheists aren't happy yet, lets make sure they are. Your too busy pissing and moaning about trivial crap you don't realize that your pushing your beliefs on others by wanting the "In God We Trust" taken off currency. You are forcing a belief, isn't that one of your pet peeves with religion. I hope there is an afterlife just to see the look on your face, itll be priceless. kinda like this :O "Oh shit!" Lol be happy with what you got, you got separation of church and state. but im sure youd like it to be all out separate ANY AND ALL religion from state and make it none existent. I think that's what the pilgrims had in mind when they formed this country. Freedom of religious persecution. Even though you are persecuting religion in your own way. depressing hypocrites.

Josh said...

Irish Eyes: At least as an Atheist I don't spend my life basking in the threat of eternal torture and damnation.