I recently read a news article that an American city, which shall remain nameless, just passed a bill to enshrine all of its police and fire vehicles with the phrase "In God We Trust". This is absolutely appalling. Moreover, as I have argued previously in this blog, this sort of encroachment of religion into state should be appalling to all religious people as well.
Religion has no place in state or government affairs. God has no place on our currency, or on the sides of law-enforcement and fire vehicles. The bible has no place in courtrooms. This was not the vision that our founding fathers had. A separation of church and state means exactly that. The authors of the Constitution founded the United States on a principle of separation of church and state, and it is only by this separation that we are ensured freedom of religion. While I have long bemoaned the existence of all organized religions, I also respect others' rights to believe and practice them, so long as the religions are never forces on others. Our founding fathers revolted and fled England in part because the country imposed a state religion, and persecuted those who did not fall in line. The patriots of The Great American Revolution wished to live free of any state religion, which is why they left god out of the Constitution, and created a wall of separation between church and state.
They would be appalled if they saw that new bill that passed. Every time religion is allowed to creep into any state affair, it erodes that wall of separation, which again is the only thing that guarantees freedom of religion. We still have a state religion. It's subtle, but it's there. When those in charge vote to put "In God We Trust" on the police and fire vehicles, they are attempting to speak for everyone. They are subtly pushing that view on everyone. They have the audacity to imply that this is the collective, national belief. It says that "this is what our country believes," which implies that, "if you do not, then you're not really one us."
The news article also had the gall to say that "In God We Trust" is the national motto, which, though perhaps technically true at this moment, is also appalling. Our national motto is not "In God We Trust." It is, in fact, "E Pluribus Unum", which is Latin for "From Many, One". The founding fathers chose this motto as it perfectly describes what our country is: THE UNITED F*CKING STATES. Many states, united as one. This motto was never actually codified by law, unfortunately, and congress passed an act in 1956 to adopt "In God We Trust" as the official motto. So, again, I concede that that's technically true, but the real motto is E Pluribus Unum--the motto that actually speaks as to what our country is, and doesn't presume to speak for everyone's beliefs.
These concessions made to religion should be upsetting to all religious people as well, because a state religion means a lack of religious freedom. In such a state, you're only in luck if your religion just happens to be the one of those in power. But imagine if that changed. What if the government starting adopting mottos for a different religion that you didn't believe in? Would that bother you? It certainly should, because the government has no right to speak for your beliefs. All you need do in order to prove this argument to yourself is to imagine how you'd feel if the country changed the national motto to "In Zeus We Trust". If that would bother you, then you should be against all references to religion in government. You should fear any subtle nods to a state religion, as one day that religion could change, and you could find yourself cast out. Case in point: some statistics suggest that Muslims will one day outnumber Christians in America. Some say it will be very soon. Some even say we're already there, which I find very dubious. I don't know if any of these statistics are true, but suppose they are. Most Christian Americans are probably happy as clams with our national motto, but that's only because they have the good fortune to believe the same as those in power. How would they/you feel if the motto one day became "In Allah We Trust"? Any such reference to any religion has no business in government, as they have no right to speak for everyone's beliefs.
The wall of separation between church and state is vital, and it requires constant repair and maintenance. Unfortunately, that wall is currently in utter disrepair. No matter what your beliefs are, we should all fight against the subtle imposition of a state religion with every fiber of our beings.