New Castle News

Editorials

November 15, 2013

Our Opinion: The curious need to post ‘In God We Trust’

NEW CASTLE — Apparently, Pennsylvania lawyers don’t have nearly enough to do.

So some lawmakers want to keep them busy. That appears to be the most likely outcome of a proposed piece of legislation requiring the national motto “In God We Trust” to be posted in every school in the state.

If this bill becomes law, we can all look forward to years of expensive legal wrangling over it.

We are always bemused by the social engineers who view public education as the means for indoctrinating the next generation to their way of thinking. Be they liberal or conservative, they are constantly on the lookout for a new gimmick to impose on education.

And, not coincidentally, more than a few politicians join the effort, hoping to collect some votes in the next election.

So it is the Pennsylvania House Education Committee has approved a measure that will impose the posting of “In God We Trust” in all school buildings. The reason? Well, we’re sure it has a lot to do with all that talk about moral decline and the need to build character in the nation’s young people.

But if our officials were truly concerned with those types of issues, we can think of any number of ethics standards for public officials they could advocate. We’ve always believed that the best way of instilling good moral character is to set a good example, rather than using power to impose it on others.

It’s interesting, however, that the social engineers elected to public office don’t see it that way.

One of the arguments used to advocate this legislation is “In God We Trust” serves as the national motto and therefore is perfectly appropriate to be posted in schools. But we note Pennsylvania’s motto is “Virtue, Liberty and Independence.” Why wasn’t that selected by state officials?

Maybe any mention of liberty is a bit too inconvenient.

A little background is in order here. Many people think “In God We Trust” has always been America’s motto. After all, it’s on all of the nation’s money.

But the term did not begin to appear on coinage until the Civil War, when both the North and South were claiming the support of the deity for their respective causes.

And it wasn’t until the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt that the motto was imposed on all coins. Ironically, Roosevelt attempted to have it stricken, arguing it was vulgar to refer to God on something as crass as money. But Congress overruled him.

And “In God We Trust” did not become the nation’s official motto until 1956, when the Cold War demanded such a stance in the face of godless communism.

That’s a lesson in history for Pennsylvania’s students. But somehow, we suspect the social engineers won’t include it in the message they want to impose.

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