Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Why I Carry A Sharpie

When the United States of America was founded, it was given the motto "E pluribus unum"[1].  Out of many, one[2].  It's a beautifully simple phrase to describe what America was all about.  Thirteen colonies united to stand up to the oppression of a monarchy, to become one united nation.  And after earning their Independence, they created the world's first secular nation.  A nation that valued freedom and justice, even despite our recent many failures in both arenas.

What dollar bills looked before 1957
We remained united for over a century and a half.  Perhaps it's fitting that the Civil War is when the eventual end of "E pluribus unum" was put into motion[3].
The motto IN GOD WE TRUST was placed on United States coins largely because of the increased religious sentiment existing during the Civil War. Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase received many appeals from devout persons throughout the country, urging that the United States recognize the Deity on United States coins. From Treasury Department records, it appears that the first such appeal came in a letter dated November 13, 1861. It was written to Secretary Chase by Rev. M. R. Watkinson, Minister of the Gospel from Ridleyville, Pennsylvania, and read:
Dear Sir: You are about to submit your annual report to the Congress respecting the affairs of the national finances.

One fact touching our currency has hitherto been seriously overlooked. I mean the recognition of the Almighty God in some form on our coins.

You are probably a Christian. What if our Republic were not shattered beyond reconstruction? Would not the antiquaries of succeeding centuries rightly reason from our past that we were a heathen nation? What I propose is that instead of the goddess of liberty we shall have next inside the 13 stars a ring inscribed with the words PERPETUAL UNION; within the ring the allseeing eye, crowned with a halo; beneath this eye the American flag, bearing in its field stars equal to the number of the States united; in the folds of the bars the words GOD, LIBERTY, LAW.

This would make a beautiful coin, to which no possible citizen could object. This would relieve us from the ignominy of heathenism. This would place us openly under the Divine protection we have personally claimed. From my hearth I have felt our national shame in disowning God as not the least of our present national disasters.

To you first I address a subject that must be agitated.
In other words, "In God We Trust" on our money is explicitly Christian in origin.

Even as a child, I knew it was wrong that our money referenced a god.  I would have also stopped saying the Pledge of Allegiance[4] too, if I hadn't already stopped because it was so creepy[5].

Our government is supposed to be entirely neutral on the subject of religion.  This is what ensures our Freedom of Religion, including my Freedom From Religion.  I was able to figure that out long before I ever learned of Teddy Roosevelt's thoughts on the matter[6].
I hold that in this country there must be complete severance of Church and State; that public moneys shall not be used for the purpose of advancing any particular creed; and therefore that the public schools shall be non-sectarian and no public moneys appropriated for sectarian schools. (Address, New York, October 12, 1915).
This is also why when I do mark my money, which is always, I make a point to never make it specifically atheist.  That would be just as wrong as what our government is currently doing with the money.  For example, I'm against stuff like this[7].

No one's religion, or lack thereof, has any place in anything to do with our government.  Our government is supposed to be secular.  Not Christian.  Not Muslim.  Not atheist.  Our government should have nothing to say on the matter whatsoever.  Secular.  Instead, we overreacted to "atheist" Communism during the Cold War and forced it back onto our money and made it our national motto[8].

Today, the "America is a Christian nation" crowd regularly uses that motto, and all the other ways they've forced their god into our society[9][10] as a way to justify that ridiculous claim.  They've rewritten history enough that many teenagers don't realize reality[11].  Its presence on our money is not without consequence.

And that is why I carry a Sharpie[12].

I prefer the Sharpie because it's portable.  But another option is the stamp a friend had made for a few of us using VistaPrint[13] and this image[14][15].

I'm not foolish enough to think the relatively small amount of bills I mark will solve the problem of religion being forced into our government, but I simply cannot accept the alternative of leaving my money broken when I know I can fix it.

9. (ACLJ is the right wing's response to the ACLU)

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