Monday, December 28, 2009

In God we don't trust

Theoretically, in the USA, the national legislative body has no power to deal with religion. That's to say, church and state are separated, as stipulated in a clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." Nevertheless, the nation's official motto is "In God we trust".

Since 1978, an association of freethinkers named the Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Wisconsin, has been striving to erode the grip of God's trustees. Among other things, they've got around to designing what look like stained-glass windows of a new kind. Here's their Dawkins model:

[Click the banner to display a humongous version]

The word "trust", with financial connotations, can be found in French dictionaries. The presence of this verb on US banknotes lends weight to the view that the power of the dollar is, in some mysterious way, divine. This money is backed by God, as it were. I used to feel the same way about the basic monetary unit of modern Israel, the shekel.

Here in Europe, we've got a lot of work to do before the euro shines divinely like a piece of silver warmed by the hand of God. The underlying problem, of course, is that the mythological pagan creature Europa was not exactly the kind of female who would be welcomed into the home of a normal God-fearing family. As for the idea of "In Zeus we trust", this just wouldn't sound convincing to a serious banker.


  1. Truly, "In God We Trust" on the bills has always seemed just amusing to me.

  2. Hearing you, God might react by borrowing the famous words of Queen Victoria: "We are not amused." It's true that the expression "In God we trust" is intrinsically funny. In the context of this American motto, an unbeliever wouldn't need to declare that he doesn't believe in God. He would be entitled to say, simply: "Frankly, I don't trust Him."

  3. Yes, as the old slogan has it:

    "In God we trust; all others pay cash."

    Happy new year to all

  4. @Paul: Best wishes for 2010. I continue to think of you as an old and dear friend, on the same wavelength... while realizing that I've never actually met up with you. That's the power of the Internet. I hope nevertheless that you might get around to dropping in for a stay at Gamone one of these days.