To the editor:
This is a response to Michael Maharrey’s opinion article “In God you must trust — or we’ll pass a law.”
In his article, Mr. Maharrey describes a new policy in Kentucky requiring public schools to display the In God We Trust motto. He describes this as being bad in one major way: the Christians who praise this new policy miss the point.
These Christians are wrong, not because they aren’t trying to spread Christianity, but as Mr. Maharrey says, “the problem is that we Christians don’t live out the teachings of Jesus.” In other words, they are wrong, not for a lack of trying to bring religion into schools or other public places, but because they aren’t acting like Christ. Mr. Maharrey misses the point.
He is wrong, but perhaps not in the way readers might imagine. He is wrong because he misses the point entirely. The United States is a secular nation, not a religious one, built around the idea of separation of Church and State; we cannot, and should not, bring religion into the halls of schools, courts, or other governmental buildings. Passing bills to plaster religious slogans in public buildings is not just some innocent thing, as I’m sure these representatives would have you believe.
Displaying religious banners in public buildings is a blatant violation of the First Amendment, but its implications are far worse. The intent of such policies is to establish the dominance of Christianity in the United States. Its intentions are to establish an exclusive society based on a religious creed. Everyday people who don’t share these religious ideals suddenly become excluded in part or in whole; supposedly they can’t understand what it truly means to be an American. This is exactly what the First Amendment was written to prevent.
Our Founders fought a repressive, religious government so that they may worship (or not) in peace free from religious discrimination and dominance. We should not tolerate such things either.
A society in which the government shows religious favoritism is not something we want, nor is it anything like what the United States stands for. The United States of America is the first and only country to establish that, no matter someone’s skin color, religious creed, sex, or nationality, anyone can become an American. This inclusion is a uniquely American ideal. This is what America stands for. This is what makes America great. If we lose this, then what have we become?
– Alex Auman