In the Constitution We Trust

By Phil Plait | November 1, 2011 5:42 pm

[UPDATE (20:00 Eastern time): Sigh. The bill passed.]

[UPDATE 2 (23:00 Eastern time): I have been told that this bill, even when passed, does not have the force of law. It's what's called a House Concurrent Resolution, and basically is used to express a sentiment of the legislature. I might then argue it's not unconstitutional, but then why did several House members say it would be (see the link provided in the post below)? Making law really is like making sausages. Anyway, even if the argument about it being unconstitutional is not a good one, this bill was still a colossal waste of time, and meaningless. There is simply no good, real reason to have done this, and the fact that so many thought it was a good expenditure of time, and that so many signed it, makes me sad.]

I found out about this too late to do much about it, but just in case you hadn’t heard, The US House of Representatives is voting tonight on a bill to make reaffirm "In God We Trust" the official motto of the US.

This is pretty shocking. Well, it’s not shocking in that everything the Republican-majority House has done in the past few months has been pretty antireality, but this is such a clear violation of the First Amendment that it’s, well, shocking. That Amemndent to the US Constitution says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…

There are many cases where the interpretation of this simple statement is not terribly clear, but this ain’t one of them. Passing a bill saying the official motto of this country is a religious one is clearly making a law about the establishing of religion. It is putting a religious belief above non-religion, for one. It is also putting a monotheistic belief above pantheism, for another. While some people might think pantheism is silly, that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that this bill violates the Establishment Clause.

And it’s not just me saying that; several dissenters in the House feel that way as well.

This country, you may have noticed, is a mess. A lot of this is due to the government itself, but we’re at the point that we need the government to fix it. There are ways they could help: jobs bills, increasing science funding, and so on. Instead, they’re wasting time and making us look foolish by violating the very principles upon which this country was founded.

We are not a Christian nation. The majority of this country may be religious, but that is all the more reason to make very, very sure our laws are free from religion. The immediate reason is that we want everyone to be free to practice religion or not according to their own beliefs or lack thereof. But also, remember, just because one religion has the majority now doesn’t mean it always will. There could come a time when some other religion, or some other version of it, has control. Making laws based on religion now will make it easier to make laws based on some other religion then.

It’s a bad, bad idea.

I know that the current House has no clue about this sort of thinking, but we the voters do. Any Congressperson who is inclined to vote YES on this bill should first remember the very first thing they did when sworn in as a Representative of the American people: uphold and defend the Constitution. This bill is the antithesis of that oath, in spirit if not in letter.

[UPDATE: Note that I originally said this bill would make this the official motto; it is actually to "reaffirm" it. Either way, it's a waste of time and still a violation of the Establishment Clause, as the dissenters pointed out.]

Tip o’ the quill to Tim Lloyd on Google+.


Related posts:

- Are the Ten Commandments really the basis for our laws?
- We are not a Christian nation
- Evolution is the coin of the realm
- Texas State Board of Education confirms irony is dead
- Pray for the First Amendment

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Piece of mind, Politics, Religion

Comments (154)

  1. marly

    It’s already the official motto (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_God_We_Trust). They’re just reaffirming it. So it’s even more of a waste of time that you already thought it was.

  2. Bette Noir

    I thought our national motto was “Buy One, Get One Free.”

  3. Mark Kawakami

    Actually, “In God We Trust” already is the official motto of the United States, so they’re not voting on whether or not to violate the constitution. Whether it has or has not is already past issue. What they’re doing is, believe it or not, even sillier: They bill in question simply reaffirms that “In God We Trust” is our national motto.

    Frankly, regardless of your views on how this impacts the constitution, I think everyone should be hopping mad that Congress is taking time to debate a symbolic resolution to reaffirm an existing act of symbolism when they should be tackling employment, the economy, health, education or any number of actual issues facing the country.

  4. Naked Bunny with a Whip

    I thought it involved supersizing.

  5. I thought it was “Always Low Prices…Always.”

  6. Mark Hennessy-Barrett

    I usually rely on my own words, but this puts it too clearly to pass up:

    “It makes no difference to me. Shocking, I know–but they’ve already violated the Constitution like a fourth-grader at a pedophile convention.”

    - Marko Kloos

  7. Well … like it or not, “In God We Trust” has been the official motto of the United States since the 1950s.

    All this bill did was “reaffirm” something that’s been the law of the land for the last half century. It had no legal effect whatsoever — it was probably just a lot of bluster and posturing.

    Not that there isn’t a serious Constitutional issue with having “In God We Trust” as our motto to begin with, of course.

  8. K

    Odd that you’d say that. I’m watching a Naomi Wolf video right now: http://www.squidoo.com/the-end-of-america

    You’re a journalist AND a scientist. Wherever you’re going to escape to, I want to go to!

  9. Jess Tauber

    Or we could go with what those little aliens in the locker shout in Men in Black II….

    Seriously, though, how many generations of Americans have been told we ARE a Christian nation? Not that it stopped them from taking, keeping, abusing slaves, treating women as chattel (even now), mistreating other minorities, maintaining old boy networks and so on. God I miss the 1830′s.

  10. So, they’ve been sitting on this meaningless bill since March, and finally decided to pass it on the Christian holiday of All Saints’ Day. What a waste of time!

    This quote says it all (from The Bellingham Herald): “‘As our nation faces challenging times, it is appropriate for members of Congress and our nation – like our predecessors – to firmly declare our trust in God, believing that it will sustain us for generations to come,’ [Rep. Randy Forbes] said.”

  11. Ross

    “In God we trust, all others pay cash.”

  12. Adam

    Sadly my representative voted yes on this one. They really snuck that one in on everyone didn’t they?

    I have written my representative and expressed my extreme disappointment in his vote on this. And I’m Christian. This is just sick and wrong. And to do it know when they could be devoting time to jobs and getting something real done just takes it even further.

  13. To be fair, it’s helpful to everyone that we label our god as such – the almighty greenback

  14. Pretending for a moment that the US were a Christian nation, which form of Christianity would we be forced to join? Within a Methodist society even Baptists might find their religious choices infringed upon by the state.

    Separation of church and state serves to protect citizens against all religions and the state at once. As it is we’ve already got more than enough trouble with the present strong lack of separation between state and business.

  15. X

    I think our motto should be “E pluribus ad divites“.

  16. Randy Owens

    “I don’t know that atheists should be regarded as citizens, nor should they be regarded as patriotic. This is one nation under God.” – G.H.W. Bush

  17. dcurt

    I’ll agree that reaffirming this is a waste…and I could care less about wasting time deciding whether the phrase should be used or not.

    But, I had to laugh when I read “uphold and defend the Constitution”. You whip it out like every liberal these days…on meaningless issues like this. Yet you have no problem defending the trash in gov’t these days that have no clue what the phrase means on issues for more reaching then this.

    Liberal Hackery 101.

  18. JustAComment

    What’s funny is some religious folks object to it being on money, as putting the name of the Deity on something as “evil” as currency is considered sacrilegious by some.

    That being said, for historical context, “In God We Trust” was made the motto at the same time as “under God” was added to the pledge… about the mid ’50s or so. Why? The Red Scare, we had to separate ourselves from the Godless Commies.. and what better way then playing up our religiosity?

    Anyway, there’s bigger fish to fry, for those on both sides of the issue.

  19. thomas mc

    Religion is the seed of mental illness.

  20. Kathy King

    Chill … You’re going to give yourself a stroke. Pick your battles … It’s okay!

  21. Alex S.

    Here’s the explanation from the one Republican congressman (Michigan’s Justin Amash) who voted against the resolution:

    http://www.facebook.com/repjustinamash/posts/215110955225042

    “There is no need to push for the phrase to be on all federal, state, and local buildings.

    The fear that unless “In God We Trust” is displayed throughout the government, Americans will somehow lose their faith in God, is a dim view of the profound religious convictions many citizens have. The faith that inspired many of the Founders of this country—the faith I practice—is stronger than that. Trying to score political points with unnecessary resolutions should not be Congress’s priority.”

    Of course, he’s only 31 so obviously is still idealistic and hasn’t yet learned just how fragile is god’s support for the United States, nor how petty god is that without tribute at every cornerstone he’ll abandon humanity.

  22. RaginKagin

    Seriously, Phil, this is the sort of thinking that makes me question why I read this blog. The religion that you are so terrified of is the very thing that founded the freedoms of this country to begin with. Worship everything or nothing, you can still be president or a scientist. I agree with Kathy, pick your battles, this sort of bickering accomplishes nothing.

  23. Nobody

    If this isn’t a Christian nation, then why do all 50 state Constitutions not only mention God, but also thank Him for their existence? Why do we, in a court of law, swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help us God? And on a Bible?

    Face it, dude, this country was founded BY Christians to allow Christians AND everyone else the freedom to worship as they want. It’s worked more or less for a couple hundred years. Except for our mortal enemies wishing to put their victory monument on ground America considers holy, everyone is allowed to believe anything they want, and no one is kept from doing so unless they prove dangerous. (Although even that doesn’t mean much.)

    I’ll grant you that there are a lot of people who CALL THEMSELVES Christians who are doing a lot of 16th century thinking lately, which is to say they’re disobeying Jesus’ teaching to keep the mind open and appreciate ALL that God created and take proper stewardship of the Earth, etc. They’re causing a lot of problems, and our time could be better spent getting the friggin money out of Congress while there’s still a country left to save than worrying one way or another about a stupid motto that no one on either side of the debate genuinely understands the appropriateness of.

    If only Congress ACTUALLY gave a damn about the country, and did something useful with its time. If only people exhibiting all the righteous indignation about either side of this issue ACTUALLY cared enough about the Constitution to force Congress to do its job.

  24. Arrrgh!

    Wow! they must have solved all the other problems in this country

  25. flip

    #15 RaginKagin

    I highly doubt Phil is afraid of religion. I think his concern was that there are better things for politicians to be spending their time on, and that continuing having the phrase institutionalised within government can set precedent for other laws or bills which may infringe on people’s rights. I can see both how it could be a ‘small matter’ and how it could be used as the basis for larger matters. Speaking as a non-American anyway…

  26. Dave

    This action is just plain stupid. They can’t make decisions on the important ossues

  27. Daffy

    ReginKagin—Yes, many people came to this country to escape state sponsored religion. Now we are in the process of establishing a State sponsored religion here. The irony would be funny it it were happening to someone else’s country.

  28. Dave

    This action is just plain stupid. They can’t make decisions on the important issues so the bring their imaginary friends in to distract us.

  29. Chet Twarog

    It use to be E Pluribus Unum. US Congress and President Eisenhower passed acts to put “Under God”, as a pledge of allegiance and a religious pledge, and “In God We Trust” as our national motto in 1952/53.
    But, in which “god”? There are thousands of them!
    I have a one dollar bill Series 1935C which has no motto on the reverse. If you can, get paper money prior to 1953.
    #15 RaginKagin – I would strongly suggest that you actually read the Preamble to the US Constitution. It is WE the PEOPLE! There is no religious test required; Congress shall make no law establishing a religion (a National Church) nor preventing the free expression thereof (gov is suppose to be religiously neutral).

  30. Bad Wolf

    Nehimiah Scudder, please pick up the White Courtesy phone…

  31. Nicholas Moline

    Let me preface this with I am an Atheist

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

    As much as I hate “In God We Trust,” I don’t think it violates the 1st Amendment. “an establishment of religion” was meant to prevent Congress from passing a law that respected one single religion. It was written to prevent another “Church of England.”

    The founders were not trying to eliminate Government from recognizing religion just respecting AN establishment of religion. Otherwise it would read “respecting religion.”

  32. JohnW

    #12 dcurt – I have to laugh, too. Commerce claus über alles.

  33. Chris

    There is no point to this other than to gain some political points. A republican could put up a bill saying “We reaffirm that puppies are cute.” The democrat would say this is a waste of time, we have better things to do, I’m not voting for it. Then the political ads come out. “Democrat _____ hates puppies, he doesn’t think they are cute. Republican ______ loves puppies, babies and God. I’m _____ and I approved this message.” It’s sad that this is the state of our government. Manipulating the thoughts of the stupid so you can gain power.

  34. RaginKagin

    I highly doubt this puts a nation founded on religious freedoms on the path to establishing a state religion. #19 Chet: You proved my point. That document, written by very religious people, was still written with personal freedoms in mind. This country was founded on people escaping religious intolerance. It will not tolerate a state religion any more than it would tolerate a military dictatorship or a birthright monarchy. I do not support this measure, I simply don’t see it as important from either side. It didn’t really need to be ‘reaffirmed’ nor is it worth raising up in arms over, it was a waste of time and fighting about it will simply waste more time. Judge your representatives on the issues that are important to you, but for me, this is not important. I’m more interested in taxes, energy and stability than a motto.

  35. Carey

    @Nicolas Moline #21: The motto “In God We Trust” respects an establishment of monotheism. It doesn’t have to be specific to any particular religion. Even the fact that it is promoting religion over non-religion is unconstitutional. Where would you draw the line? If a law was passed promoting Christianity in the national motto, would that still be okay, because it didn’t promote Baptists over Methodists?

    The motto (as well as “under God” in the pledge) is an obvious and clear violation of the First Amendment under any reasonable interpretation. To say otherwise is laughable.

  36. Chet Twarog

    RaginKagin: the religious people, some of them, owned slaves and were in favor of native indigenous people genocide. Yes, they knew of the abuses of religious intolerance.
    Thomas Paine wrote several books challenging Christianity and the Holy Bible. Thomas Jefferson created the Jefferson Bible because he did not accept Jesus as a crucified resurrected god or his miracles but just a wise Hebrew rabbi.
    I am also a Secular Humanist Atheist Freethinking Skeptic, proudly served honorably in the USAF for twenty years, retired, and disabled. A USAF medical clinic I occasionally go to, has a Christian cross and the Star of Bethlehem in its unit patch on a door mat as one enters the clinic. This directly violates the UCMJ, the US Air Force’s Blue Book of Ethics, and religious neutrality of the military. I am contesting it.

  37. OK defenders of this nonsense, can you explain to me what 1.2 million hindu americans and the 2.1 million Buddhist americans, are supposed to do with a motto and pledge like this?

    When you can explain to me how they can honestly say the pledge without disrespecting their own religion, you may have a point.

    religion doesnt belong in government, at all. It always causes conflict because one groups religious beliefs invariably conflict with another groups. It doesnt belong in government, any government function, any government program. It belongs nowhere that is funded by taxpayers. If you want your religion have at it, no one is stopping you. Praise a purple elephant on your front lawn if you want. Stop making other people praise the elephant.

  38. Chief

    Even though religion is supposed to be something that isn’t bound by law and is free to be practiced in whatever form the user choses (or choses not to). I find it problematic that a person will not be elected into a high office unless he/she conforms to a established religion. Thus everything from then on is screwed up by the suppression of alternate ideas that don’t conform the expected beliefs that got put into office.

    btw, didn’t the founding fathers have viewpoints that didn’t necessarily go towards the established norm (today), ie druidism and the like.

  39. Fyrehair

    You’re thinking of the Masons, Chief. Masonic societies were all the rage during the founding father’s time (only to fall violently out of fashion a few decades later, IIRC).

    ‘E Pluribus Unum’ is the only motto that makes sense to me. ‘One Nation Under God’ seems meaningless even from a religious prespective. I mean, technically, as Heaven is generally considered ‘up’, aren’t all nations under God?

  40. Snowman

    RE: the quote:
    “As our nation faces challenging times, it is appropriate for members of Congress and our nation – like our predecessors – to firmly declare our trust in God, believing that it will sustain us for generations to come,’ [Rep. Randy Forbes] said”

    This sounds to me like they’re trying to ‘firmly declare’ that they don’t intend to pay any attention to science…. if you ‘trust in God’ to sustain you for generations, that’s just using “God” to absolve yourself of responsibility to think, and act, responsibly toward making sustainable decisions for the country!

    I never understood that… if you DO believe in God, why would you think he created this intricately balanced system that we depend on for our survival, but which is also beautiful? Not to squander it!
    And why would he give us brains, and hearts… the ability to do science and math…. not to Ignore the findings of those tools he gave us!
    Science should help religious folks better appreciate the intracacies God created…. appreciate the diversity of people, cultures, food systems, etc. Not deride them.

    Ironic that those who invoke God’s name the most, are usually looking to him excuse themselves for something immoral…
    We don’t elect officials to office to ‘Trust in God”…. leave religion to the people to practice, as the people are powerless.

    We elect officials to “Be trusted in the eyes of God” to take care of this country and its citizens.

    What a sorry mistake that is.

  41. PeedroPaula

    “Traded in my god for this one, and he signs his name with a capital G” – Trent Reznor

  42. MadScientist

    “Making law really is like making sausages.”

    I disagree; sausage-making is a straightforward process and the results are delectable.

  43. Muffit

    @15: Utter nonsense. Composers of constitution were Deist or atheist (read their letters in which they show nothing but loathing for religion).

    This document (Treaty of Tripoli) was submitted to senate by John Adams, ratified on june 7, 1797.

    It says;

    ” As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen,—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

  44. @2. Bette Noir : I thought our [the USA's presumably -ed.] national motto was “Buy One, Get One Free.”

    Personally, I thought* it was ‘E Pluribus Unem’ (“From many, strength?”) or something very similar to that?

    Or maybe did it start and continue as the “Don’t Tread on Me?” slogan that used to be on the early version of the United States flag a la the John Adams documentary. (Opening sequence linked to my name via Youtube.) Or the early (War of independence? Earlier?) “Unite or die” slogan from the original anti-King George III rebellion / USA’s formation?

    ——————–

    * As an Aussie, my knowledge of US history is fairly fragmentary & uncertain – never studied it in much depth, just gleaned bits’n'pieces from everywhere – but still reasonably sure I could beat Sarah Palin / Michelle Bachmann in a quiz on the topic knowing whose side Revere was on & who freed the slaves, etc. ;-)

  45. Grand Lunar

    Here’s my main beef with this bill: it’s a complete waste of time and effort.

    If they want to reaffirm their trust in a god, let them go to church.
    Don’t waste time (and possibly tax dollars) on drival like this.

    It accomplishes NOTHING.

    And what made them think this was some issue that needed a bill to be passed?
    What did they think it would do?

    Seems to me like this was a bill passed just to make the lawmakers feel good about themselves.

    And little do they know, they practically spit on the First Amendment with actions like this.

  46. Murff

    Almost every day I feel like moving out of the U.S., it disgusts me more and more, nationally and locally. Which is even more sad since I just retired after serving in the Air Force for 24 years…

  47. Wzrd1

    @RaginKagin, dude, I’m a rather “God fearing” guy.
    I’m also highly inclined to science.
    I am militant in regards to protecting our constitution, I swore an oath, most likely before you were born, to protect it.
    So, with absolutely no due respect to you as a person, citizen or believer, you can shove your lunacy up your butt sideways. Indeed, if you’re unable, I’ll happily help you shove it there.
    We are a SECULAR nation, as espoused by the writings, diaries, journals, speeches, articles published, ad nauseum, of our nation’s founding fathers.
    Where THEY found something that worked, YOU would seek to revive the inquisitions, which plunged Europe into centuries of dark ages.
    Sorry, dark is bad, light is good, enlightenment is EXCELLENT.
    So, if you’re offended, leave the nation forever, as you reject our constitution and society. Hell, I’ll personally pay for your one way ticket away from this land, AFTER your renouncing your citizenship is accepted by the Department of State.
    For, it IS true to the observance of my Privates. My parents were never married. At least, from the Privates view…
    So, America, love it or I’ll personally pay for your one way ticket to whatever hellhole you prefer.
    IT won’t be a Christian nation either, unless you’re moving to Vatican City.

  48. Anne Ominous

    Don’t misunderstand me, because I side with the majority of you on this issue.

    What I wonder, though, is how so many people can yell about THIS being unconstitutional, all the while giving so many other unconstitutional things the government does a pass.

    Compared to a lot of unconstitutional things the government does, this is *relatively* harmless.

    Again: I agree that it’s a waste of time or worse. But there are far worse real bogeymen in the hands of Congress today. I would much rather see people up in arms about them, instead.

    Don’t ask me for a list. I did not chime in here in order to start arguments. You can spend 5 minutes on Google and start building your own list.

  49. Bruce

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

    So Phil, what religion was established by this bill? How did this bill prohibit the free exercise of a religion?

    Aren’t there stars exploding or new Hubble images you could be writing about, instead of wasting time blathering on about politics?

  50. David
  51. flip

    #37 Chet

    Good luck with the contestation!

    #51 Bruce

    Er, not everyone believes in god, or ‘a’ god, and government shouldn’t be involved in religion. Did you actually read the post, or the comments?

    As for your second bit, you can read only the posts tagged with subjects you’re interested in, or leave. See Phil’s post “Politics, science and me” which is linked in the right-hand sidebar.

  52. Messier Tidy Upper

    @30. Chet Twarog :

    It use to be E Pluribus Unum. US Congress and President Eisenhower passed acts to put “Under God”, as a pledge of allegiance and a religious pledge, and “In God We Trust” as our national motto in 1952/53.
    But, in which “god”? There are thousands of them!

    .. Plus quite a few Goddesses too & not just in the Charlie Sheen sense of the word “goddess” either. Aphrodite (or Venus as the Romans called Her), Hecate and Ameratsu Omikami to name just three. ;-)

    Thanks for that detailed info which is sorta what I was vaguely referring to in # 45 albiet misspelled. :-)

    @37. Chet Twarog :

    A USAF medical clinic I occasionally go to, has a Christian cross and the Star of Bethlehem in its unit patch on a door mat as one enters the clinic. This directly violates the UCMJ, the US Air Force’s Blue Book of Ethics, and religious neutrality of the military. I am contesting it. (Emphasis added.)

    Is that really the Star of Bethelem as in the supposed one over the Manager where Jesus was born or did you mean the Jewish symbol; the ‘Magen David’ – the Shield or as its often called the “Star Of David” instead?

    Depictions and use of the former – like the cometary one Giotto (?) painetd in his nativity scene – are fairly unusual and rare whilst the latter is used much more commonly hence my question.

    BTW. As someone on another thread and forum pointed out years ago – If Christ was to have a Second Coming would He really appreciate all those crosses reminding Him about being horribly tortured to a humiliating death? I’m not so sure He would! ;-)

    @ 51. Bruce : “Aren’t there stars exploding or new Hubble images you could be writing about, instead of wasting time blathering on about politics?”

    Supernovae -at least bright nearby ones are very rare and I’m notaware of any presently. The one in M101 is fading adn was covered at the time. The BA does indeed write about astronomy and the HST and other images a lot as you’d know if you read through the blog. No one forces you to read his political posts and you are free to ignore them whilst it is the BA’s blog and thus his choice as to what he writes about. Simple as that.

    *****

    “…about 40 supernovae are exploding somewhere in the universe every second. However, light from most of these events won’t reach Earth for billions of years, if ever.”
    - Page 73, “Ask Astro” column in ‘Astronomy‘ magazine October 2008.

  53. Leah

    So, I’m guessing many of them aren’t familiar with their Bible at all…

    “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” Matthew 6:1

    “And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward.” Matthew 6:5. :P

    The absolute ridiculousness of reaffirmation is astounding.

  54. Messier Tidy Upper

    @51 Bruce :

    If you are actally interested in the BA’s thoughts on supernovae then I’d recommend clicking on :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/tag/supernova/

    Which provides all the BA has written on them that’s been tagged supernovae. Currently starting with the most recent relatively close~ish one (SN2011fe in M101) back in September this year.

    Mind you, that doesn’t include everything as some items (esp. older ones) involving supernova haven’t been tagged as such. For example :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2009/01/06/aas-4-supernova-expands-as-we-watch/

    If you want to see the pretty pictures – from the Hubble Space Observatory and elsewhere – that have been postedand discussed by the BA then this link :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/category/pretty-pictures/

    is probably the best place to start.

    A cursory glance at the topics the BA posts here shows you that while his blog is primarily about astronomy (75%~ish?) there’s also (20%~ish?) lots of other stuff is discussed here which includes politics as well as SF, pareidolia and more.

    That’s how the Bad Astronomer and most of the rest of us like it. If you don’t then you are free to skip the threads that don’t interest you or leave altogether. Up to you.

    BTW. telling other people what they are and aren’t allowed to discuss on their own blogs is really bad manners, arrogant and is greatly frowned upon by most folks, you do know that right?

    PS. It took me all of about five minutes to find those links and type this up for you y’know. Just arrived here have you or just trolling?

  55. Meanwhile in other much better news coming out of Congress funding for the JWST has apparently been approved. :-)

    Click on the link attached to my name for source. (From Universe Today BTW.) Or cut’n'paste :

    Senate Approves Bill Funding JWST

    (by Jason Major on November 1, 2011) into the search box.

  56. Bruce,
    Phil has stated before that it is his blog and he writes about whatever takes his fancy. Most of the time it is astronomy. Funny that most of the comments complaining about whatever topic he writes about disagree with the post. Others note the tags and skip the posts that don’t interest them.

    What religion was established? I’ll give you 3 guesses. But how many religions refer to God used as a name? Another hint. It is monotheistic. Islam or Judaism? Possible but doubtful.

    I reckon the only reason that most reasonable Americans don’t care is because God, or god, can be remarkably generic. Now substitute Yahweh, Jehovah or Allah it becomes way more specific and even some Christians would pause for thought. But God, as used by Christians, is his name. No getting around that. There is intent in the bill.

  57. Robin

    How ironic that as our nation and leaders rail against some theocratic states and turn a blind eye to any action that other theocratic states commit, we have many in this country doing their best to create a theocratic state here.

    I pity every Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, Muslim, or ______ that comes here for the freedom that we’re allegedly all about and then gets aurally assaulted, intellectually insulted, and in some cases physically assaulted by the actions and words of our political and religious leaders. Hell, we’ve even got a candidate for president that thinks it’s actually okay for a town to deny Muslims the right to build a temple, all because of their religion. Let’s not even start talking about how “accepted religions” are allowed to pressure and influence our government to pass laws that are palatable to them…..Defense of Marriage Act?

    With all the crap going on–uhm, anyone remember the economic state we’re in–people on the hill thought the best use of time was to pass a resolution propping up a badly chosen motto? Really?

  58. Robin

    @MTU (#54): This still has to get by the House, and that is by no means a certainty. Let’s not forget that the way the US chambers of Congress operate right now, the rule is to vote exactly the opposite of how the other chamber did.

    I won’t believe this is a good and done thing until both chambers pass something that independently funds JWST, doesn’t gut NASA (and hopefully increases their budget) or gut some other critical program in the process.

  59. James

    To everyone that says this is Dumb and Pointless… it’s not.

    It’s depressingly purposeful. It’s about agitating the tiny fraction of people that think defending the country against the heathen godless is EXACTLY what the government should be about.

    Anyone who spoke out against this motion can now be tarred as an Atheist Corrupter of the Youth, and the only people it enraged were voting the other side anyway.

    It’s pathetic and cynical, but unfortunately not stupid, and rather horribly it will probably work exactly as intended – energise the zealots while inducing apathy in the intelligent Undecideds

  60. @ ^ James : .. heathen godless?

    Say wha ..? Surely those are mutually contradictory categories?! ;-)

    The rets of that is depressing if true although I’m somewhat optimistic than the power of the “Religious Right” (which, btw, I’d argue is actually neither) is currently waning.

    @58. Robin : Durnnit. Just when I thought there was some clear good news settled.

    @ 57. Robin :

    Hell, we’ve even got a candidate for president that thinks it’s actually okay for a town to deny Muslims the right to build a temple ..

    But why would *Muslims* even want to build a temple instead of their usual mosques? ;-)

    Temples are usually Hindu, Shinto, Buddhist or sometimes Jewish.

    Also who’s thinking that – Rick Perry? Michelle Bachmann? Herman Cain?

    If its anybody except Mitt Rommny then it’s not going to be all that much of a big deal given Mitt’s now looking more and more certain to be last Republican candidate standing and thus their 2012 Presidential Nomination.

    Mitt Romney ain’t so bad. Certainly compared to most of his alternatives or so I gather.

    The real problem is – same as here in Oz – that whoever you vote for, you get a politician. :-(

  61. James

    heathen (adj)

    1. not adhering to an Abrahamic religion; pagan.
    2. (by extension) uncultured; uncivilized; savage, philistine.
    3. pertaining to currents of Germanic neo-paganism known as Heathenry.

    (of course, I didn’t know that until I looked it up to check :-) )

  62. Troy

    This sort of demagoguery is very frustrating. While the supreme court has allowed this “ceremonial deism” are ” protected from Establishment Clause scrutiny chiefly because they have lost through rote repetition any significant religious content.”
    First I disagree with this assessment. Case in point the golden presidential dollars (that no one even use) originally had the “In God We Trust” as print on the side of the coin. Some politician felt God was demoted so now more useless legislation the aesthetic of the coin is changed by putting it on the obverse. So OBVIOUSLY it still has religious merit to some if not many…as well as allowing the hollow argument to exist, “well of course it is a Christian nation, it’s on the money!”
    Some day this b.s. will be overturned and we can go back to good ol’ “E Pluribus Unum” the English which is “And many became one”. So poetic and inclusive and so appropriate if you’re talking colonies, religions, races, and backgrounds.

  63. Apparently this is what congresscritters are doing instead of focusing on our decaying infrastructure, the economy, our national debt, crooked lobbyists and CEOs, global climate change, a burgeoning plutocracy, etc. They are their own version of the American Taliban there…

    Apparently, they have also totally forgotten about the motto that was “Founding Fathers Approved” of E. Pluribus Unum, and instead want to divide people over whose imaginary friend loves them the most…

    Oh, and I must ask you ladies, are you hiding jobs in your uterus? The republicans seem to be nearly obsessed with your uteruses (uteri?) for the sheer number of bills they are introducing concerning how they are to be treated. What gives?

  64. PayasYouStargaze

    @30. Chet Twarog

    I have a one dollar bill Series 1935C which has no motto on the reverse. If you can, get paper money prior to 1953.

    What use do you have for that dollar? In the UK any note or coin that old would have ceased to be legal tender decades ago. Are coins and notes (bills) not taken out of circulation in the USA? Or do you just want it for academic reasons, to show that the money didn’t always say the phrase?

  65. MKS

    Maybe some smarties can now make something like the Protection of Marriage Act, where they define G_d as something like ‘all of humanity working together with reality’…that way, both ‘sides’ (what a silly term, eh?) can be made happy.

  66. Lawrence

    US Currency, as long as it conforms to the current standard, is valid for as long as the bill is identifiable (so stuff issued during the Civil War isn’t considered “legal tender” anymore – since the standards have changed).

    Normally, currency & coins are taken out of circulation after a set period of time, as long as it passes through the banking system – if a collector holds on to something, it never gets yanked.

  67. Lawrence

    What a colossal waste of time – they can bring up bills like this, but not deal with the whole mess of other stuff going on that really matters to every day working people.

  68. Barry

    It makes me sad that I read this on a site dedicated to Astronomy and all things science. While I respect Phil’s right to post what he feels is important, I also don’t want to read about these kinds of political issues on his site. And I know, don’t read it then!! you’ll say. Fair enough, I can always get the information somewhere a-political like NASA but I truly enjoy Phil’s writing style and the breadth of topics he covers, I just hope there is a bare minimum of the religious debate that ends of on here. I grew up in the bible belt and have had far more than my fill of it.

  69. OtherRob

    #38, Techskeptic:

    Praise a purple elephant on your front lawn if you want. Stop making other people praise the elephant.

    Well said. :)

  70. deathby2

    Am I missing something or does being Christian mean believing in Christ? If anything, “In God We Trust” says that we are not a Christian nation but a monotheistic nation.

  71. The time and money wasted on this useless bill should be deducted from the Congressional pay of its sponsors and donated to the U. S. Postal Service who is the victim of still more Congressional stupidity.

    This motto was unthinkable before the McCarthy witch hunts in the 50′s. Now, it should be sent to the dustbin of history to join McCarthyism.

    The GOPissants are again trying to fool people into thinking that GOD=GOP. Little do most people realize that the god the GOP worships is the dollar and its founding saint is Ayn Rand, the most anti-Christian philosopher of the twentieth century.

  72. “… what religion was established by this bill? How did this bill prohibit the free exercise of a religion?”

    Judeo-Christian monotheism. Saying that the country officially trusts God is an invocation of how Christianity and Judaism address their common deity. Muslims have 99 names for their deity of choice, with Allah being the most generic placeholder. Try to say “in Allah we trust” in a public forum and watch the very same people lobbying hard to keep the current religious motto completely and utterly lose all control of their fear of a Muslim takeover. You’re not prohibiting free exercise of religion with it, but you are endorsing a certain family of religious beliefs as being the beliefs worthy of being the focus of the nation’s motto over others.

    That’s why I think (and many secularists will back me up on this) that the motto should be restored to E Pluribus Unum because it far better represents the idea of this country as a melting pot for religions, customs, and ideas from around the world. The current motto is a product of hysterical fundamentalist influence on politics, the brainchild of organizations that wanted the U.S. to tell the world that unlike those godless commies, it had access to divine powers and approval.

    “Aren’t there stars exploding or new Hubble images you could be writing about, instead of wasting time blathering on about politics?”

    So Bruce, tell me, when were you promoted to the position of Phil’s editor?

  73. #68 deathby2:
    But you are not that either, are you? Who exactly has the right to decide that Hindus, who believe in multiple gods, and atheists, who don’t believe in any, don’t have an equal right to live in your country?

  74. If we were to count how many times the constitution has been screwed over in the last 50 years or so, we would need a big sheet of paper…

  75. Nigel Depledge

    Nobody (24) said:

    If this isn’t a Christian nation, then why do all 50 state Constitutions not only mention God, but also thank Him for their existence?

    Idiocy. Next?

    Why do we, in a court of law, swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help us God? And on a Bible?

    IIUC, the last part of that oath is not mandatory.

    Face it, dude, this country was founded BY Christians to allow Christians AND everyone else the freedom to worship as they want.

    Exactly. And the only way to achieve such freedom of religion is to give everyone freedom from religion – IOW, to have no official state religion. Remember that many of the original settlers fled a nation that was wracked with religious war. Admittedly, they did so because they wanted to establish their own form of religious persecution, but that’s not the point.

    It’s worked more or less for a couple hundred years.

    Yes, it has worked – with Congress constitutionally prohibited from favouring any one religion above any other.

    Except for our mortal enemies wishing to put their victory monument on ground America considers holy, everyone is allowed to believe anything they want, and no one is kept from doing so unless they prove dangerous. (Although even that doesn’t mean much.)

    Not really. Some very dangerous anti-reality beliefs are actively supported by various people in places of power at various levels throughout the US.

    I’ll grant you that there are a lot of people who CALL THEMSELVES Christians who are doing a lot of 16th century thinking lately, which is to say they’re disobeying Jesus’ teaching to keep the mind open and appreciate ALL that God created and take proper stewardship of the Earth, etc. They’re causing a lot of problems, and our time could be better spent getting the friggin money out of Congress while there’s still a country left to save than worrying one way or another about a stupid motto that no one on either side of the debate genuinely understands the appropriateness of.

    Agreed.

    If only Congress ACTUALLY gave a damn about the country, and did something useful with its time. If only people exhibiting all the righteous indignation about either side of this issue ACTUALLY cared enough about the Constitution to force Congress to do its job.

    It’s a vicious circle. To get intelligent government you need educated voters. The USA seems to have been on a downward trend in this respect since the 1890s (very roughly).

  76. Nigel Depledge

    RaginKagin (35) said:

    I highly doubt this puts a nation founded on religious freedoms on the path to establishing a state religion. #19 Chet: You proved my point. That document, written by very religious people, was still written with personal freedoms in mind. This country was founded on people escaping religious intolerance.

    First, whether or not people were religious is an irrelevant point before about 1920. Atheism was really not a viable lifestyle choice until around that time.

    Second, it largely depends on what you mean by the country being “founded”.

    The original 13 colonies were founded by a mixture of merchants and people seeking to escape institutionalised religious persecution so that they could set up their own institutionalised religious system. Religious freedom was far from their minds.

    Skip forward about 100 or so years and you get to the Delcaration of Independence. This was mainly about freedom from taxes, and pretty arbitrary ones at that, when the government to which those taxes were paid had what amounted to no representation of the colonial taxpayers at all. Freedom from religion was written into the constitution because its authors were intelligent, educated men – they were aware of the English Civil War, and didn’t want a second version of the same thing to happen in the United Colonies.

    It will not tolerate a state religion any more than it would tolerate a military dictatorship or a birthright monarchy.

    More than this. Congress is prohibited from favouring one religion above any other.

    I do not support this measure, I simply don’t see it as important from either side. It didn’t really need to be ‘reaffirmed’ nor is it worth raising up in arms over, it was a waste of time and fighting about it will simply waste more time.

    That depends. If you can get even a handful of people to change how they vote by showing to them what time-wasters their elected representatives are, then you may have achieved something.

    Judge your representatives on the issues that are important to you, but for me, this is not important. I’m more interested in taxes, energy and stability than a motto.

    Fair enough, but why don’t you write to your representative and point out that they should be spending their time on dealing with what metters to you, instead of this farce?

  77. Gus Snarp

    I hate this on so many levels. Beginning with the fact that “In God we Trust” should never have been made our national motto, proceeding to the complete and utter waste of time on political theater, and then to the fact that it’s hard to see this unnecessary showboating as anything but an intentional insult to the millions of non-believers in America and even to anyone who actually respects the idea of a secular nation, but what really gets me is all the “whereas”s in the text. If you vote yes on this you’re also effectively affirming each “whereas” as well as the notion that they all combine to give good reason for the vote. They don’t. They’re the dumbest mishmash of out of quotes and non sequitur arguments that one always hears for this sort of thing, completely ignoring the thousands of quotes that could be marshaled against it. And this one:

    Whereas if religion and morality are taken out of the marketplace of ideas, the very freedom on which the United States was founded cannot be secured

    is just an outright lie. Even those of us who wish to see the motto changed aren’t suggesting that religion be taken out of the marketplace of ideas, only that it no longer receive government subsidies and protections that give it an unfair market advantage. And morality has nothing to do with this issue whatsoever, morality and religion are entirely uncorrelated. Finally, the conclusion that our freedom cannot be secured is completely false. Talk about non sequitur.

    So I’m angry about this on many levels, but perhaps most of all because of the nauseating stupidity that our representatives have shown themselves to be willing to sign off on just to keep up religious appearances.

  78. Greg

    @24 “If this isn’t a Christian nation, then why do all 50 state Constitutions not only mention God, but also thank Him for their existence?”

    The first statement is only barely (maybe) true and misleading at best. Looking at my own state’s constitution there are 3 mentions of religion in the document. In the first two sections of article 1, the bill of rights are section 1: freedom of religion which is the only mention of God in that it acknowledges that men frequently assemble for public worship of God (no thanks for his existence), then continues to describe the complete limits on forcing of religion in any way including monitarily on any person. Section 2: No religious litmus test for any office in the state. The final mention is in education, article 10, where it describes how no public funds may be used for religious schools.

    As is the case with the US Constitution, the only mentions of religion or God are to limit any enforced promotion or involvement of it in the government and on the citizens of the state.

  79. Chet Twarog

    # 53 Messier Tidy Upper – thanks for your inquiry. It is really the “Star of Bethlehem” because it looks exactly like * and not two triangles making six points. So, a white Christian cross on the bottom left and the “star” on the upper right (right hand of god).
    # 63 PayasYouStargaze – still usable money. But, I have it to show that our current national motto was not printed on the paper monies before 1953. Thanks #65 Lawrence

  80. JohnK

    Dear Congress,

    Why are you wasting your time with reaffirming our country’s motto? You have many, many more important things to do like: Balancing the budget, passing a budget instead of the usual continuing resolutions, jobs, terrorism, three overseas wars, the environment, jobs, medicade, Social Security, Obamacare, unemployment, underemployment and a plethora of other things.

    Please get off your collective rears and do something that’s important. Do it before any press conferences, fact-finding missions (legal lobbyist bribes), golf outings, debates, campaigning, etc.

    If you really want to know how America feels, go to youtube and search for “felonious monk” If you are offended by cursing, skip it, but otherwise please view it.

    Thank you

    John Keller – one of the millions are angry voters.

    P.S. President Obama my rant applies to you too.

  81. noen

    This is just dog whistle politics. Some people are so ideologically hide bound that they will follow anyone who makes the right noises.

    The thing to do then, if you object to this, is to convince enough people around you that position X is superior to position Y for reasons A, B and C. Attitudes can be changed, mostly by just talking to people. That is how attitudes about homosexuality changed. People came out, talked to others and convinced them that their previous attitudes were mistaken. It worked.

    What doesn’t work is anger, ridicule, mockery, snobbery or other aggressive put downs. All those things do is to solidify your opponents against you and alienate potential allies. Which is a losing strategy. In societies like ours, (the US I assume) where elections are winner take all a minority position *must* have allies if it is to succeed.

  82. noen

    JohnK said — “P.S. President Obama my rant applies to you too.”

    Actually it doesn’t. Governments are not households and thus do not have a “checkbook” which must be balanced monthly. Economics 101 says that in a recession the government must spend money in order to increase demand. That is just how economics works. There are people who spread a false understanding of basic economics because it is to their advantage that people remain ignorant and uninformed of base reality.

    Secondly, in the US presidents are not dictators and cannot just make things happen. Under the current rules any party must have a super majority in order to get much legislation passed. The Democrats only had a super majority for about 6 months, if that. During that short window of time they accomplished a lot but since then they have faced a wall of opposition that has succeeded in preventing them from doing anything.

    Worse, the US people, in free and fair elections, decided to put right-wing extremists in charge of the Congress. If we want better outcomes then we need to elect better politicians to enact better legislation. Giving up and choosing to throw a childish fit and not participate in your government will only help your political opponents and hurt the causes you (the US electorate) claim to support.

    If you want a right-wing dictatorship or a Christian theocracy then by all means vote one in. There are plenty of people who want that. But if you don’t then choosing not to be a part of your own country only succeeds in giving them electoral victory. Or not. Maybe America needs to experience first hand what “limited government” is actually like. God knows we were too stupid to learn from the economic collapse of 2008. We doubled down on the stupid and the predictable consequences are approaching like a runaway freight train.

  83. Acronym Jim

    Snowman@41:

    RE: the quote:
    “As our nation faces challenging times, it is appropriate for members of Congress and our nation – like our predecessors – to firmly declare our trust in God, believing that it will sustain us for generations to come,’ [Rep. Randy Forbes] said”

    This sounds to me like they’re trying to ‘firmly declare’ that they don’t intend to pay any attention to science…. if you ‘trust in God’ to sustain you for generations, that’s just using “God” to absolve yourself of responsibility to think, and act, responsibly toward making sustainable decisions for the country! ”

    It sounds to ME like an explicit admission of incompetence. The congress critters that voted for this unnecessary bill have nothing left so they’re “letting go and letting God.”

  84. Cathy

    My anger is that they’re wasting their time on such trivial, pointless stuff instead of working on real issues.

  85. Al

    I was a kid when god was inserted into the pledge. I solved the problem by reciting, “…one nation under guard, invisible…” but after all this time it still ticks me off. The number one litmus test for politicians in the good ol’ USA today is church attendance. Europeans think we’re goofy.

  86. Al

    I was a kid when god was inserted into the pledge. I solved the problem by reciting, “…one nation under guard, invisible…” but after all this time it still ticks me off. The number one litmus test for politicians in the good ol’ USA today is church attendance. Europeans think we’re goofy.

  87. PayasYouStargaze

    I have an idea. Taking inspiration from the future First Amalgamated Church, change the motto to “In one or more gods or fewer, we trust”.

    @68 Lawrence and @81 Chet: Thanks for the explanation.

  88. Keith Bowden

    @MTU – the quote you’re thinking of comes from the late, great Bill Hicks:

    “A lot of Christians where crosses around their necks. You think when Jesus comes back he ever wants to see a f—— cross? It’s kinda like going up to Jackie Onassis with a little sniper rifle pendant. ‘Hey Jackie, just thinking of John.’”

  89. Gus Snarp

    @noen said:

    What doesn’t work is anger, ridicule, mockery, snobbery or other aggressive put downs.

    Are you sure about that? Because I’m pretty sure there was a lot of anger, ridicule, and mockery involved in the gay rights movement, as well as the civil rights movement of the sixties. It is absolutely true that the best thing we can do is be out about our lack of belief and set good examples for the people around us, and that familiarity will change people’s impressions of atheists, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with anger, ridicule, mockery, and maybe even snobbery in attacking idiotic public statements from politicians. It may not have a direct effect on convincing our opponents, but it mobilizes us, it mobilized African Americans in the sixties, it mobilized LGBT people from Stonewall to the present, and that mobilization is what leads to people being out and willing to talk to people.

  90. James

    Let me preface my opinion by revealing my religious bias, I am an atheist. Also I’d like to say that I believe that governments should not partake in anything that has to do with religion and that includes having a motto that says “in god we trust”. That being said I don’t believe this to conflict with the establishment or the free exercise clause and we should have an amendment to the constitution that takes a less ambiguous stance on topics like these saying that congress cannot pass a law that links governement and religion in any way, I realize that there are probably ways around that and somebody with more experience with legal jargon could come up with a better wording but you get the point.

  91. James

    Let me preface my opinion by revealing my religious bias, I am an atheist. Also I’d like to say that I believe that governments should not partake in anything that has to do with religion and that includes having a motto that says “in god we trust”. That being said I don’t believe this to conflict with the establishment or the free exercise clause and we should have an amendment to the constitution that takes a less ambiguous stance on topics like these saying that congress cannot pass a law that links governement and religion in any way, I realize that there are probably ways around that and somebody with more experience with legal jargon could come up with a better wording but you get the point.

  92. BJN

    If there is a God, he/it’s devious, duplicitous, capricious, homicidal, irrational, vengeful, sadistic, and racist along with a vast number of other negative traits. Why the hell would I trust that deity?

  93. Joseph G

    Maybe this shows how low my expectations are, or how resigned I am to religious zealotry, but my first reaction wasn’t outrage over the Constitutionality of the bill, but the fact that the Congress is dicking around on such idiotic minutia while Rome burns.

    EVEN IF YOU AGREE WITH THE RESOLUTION, you have to ask what the purpose is! Why REaffirm something? And why now? And why bother if it’s not binding!?

    Now, if New York had just been nuked by a crazy atheist cult that was determined to eradicate all religion by force, ok, then I could at least understand the motivation behind this. It’d still be stupid as all get-out, but I could comprehend the rationalization, sort of.
    But now? WTF?

  94. Joseph G

    @37 Chet Twarog: Thomas Jefferson created the Jefferson Bible because he did not accept Jesus as a crucified resurrected god or his miracles but just a wise Hebrew rabbi.
    I was gobsmacked the first time I read about the Jefferson Bible. Can you imagine how up in arms the religious fundamentalists would get today if someone announced a similar project? I wonder how many people today who are both devout Christians and reverent of the founding fathers know about this?

    I am also a Secular Humanist Atheist Freethinking Skeptic, proudly served honorably in the USAF for twenty years, retired, and disabled. A USAF medical clinic I occasionally go to, has a Christian cross and the Star of Bethlehem in its unit patch on a door mat as one enters the clinic.
    Thank you for your service.
    I’m surprised no one’s pissed off that you actually have to WALK ON the cross to get into the clinic. I guess that just shows the consistency of inconsistency we’re dealing with.

  95. Joseph G

    @43 MadScientist: I disagree; sausage-making is a straightforward process and the results are delectable.
    I lol-ed.

    @MTU 54 As someone on another thread and forum pointed out years ago – If Christ was to have a Second Coming would He really appreciate all those crosses reminding Him about being horribly tortured to a humiliating death? I’m not so sure He would! ;-)

    I can just see him stopping and squinting at the crucifixes around peoples’ necks, then turning and looking up at a giant cross on a church steeple. Then looking back at the nearest person with a hurt and confused look on his face.
    “Really? REALLY? Is this a joke? Because if it is, it’s NOT funny.”

  96. PeteC

    @97 Joseph G

    If only we had given him chocolates instead…

    http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=1356

  97. A little OT, but appropriate, I think: click on my name for Cracked‘s “5 Logical Fallacies That Make You Wrong More Than You Think.”

  98. noen

    Gus Snarp said:
    “Are you sure about that? ”

    Yes, not only do I believe that putting others down will not win friends, I *know* it will not. There is both hard evidence from game theory and clinical evidence that shows what happens in a winner take all game (political elections are modeled well in game theory) and what strategies are most likely to succeed or not.

    “I’m pretty sure there was a lot of anger, ridicule, and mockery involved in the gay rights movement”

    Yeah, that didn’t work out so well did it? I think the history of civil and sexual politics only validates what I said. A minority seeking to have it’s issues addressed needs allies. White Jewish kids from New York were murdered during the civil rights struggle. Malcolm X (strategy of aggression and violence) failed, Dr. King (strategy of non-aggression and non-violence) succeeded. Go figure.

    How many Christians are willing to die for you?

    Is it really a good strategy to alienate people not already in your camp?

    “there’s absolutely nothing wrong with anger, ridicule, mockery, and maybe even snobbery in attacking idiotic public statements from politicians.”

    Right and wrong do not exist. All that exists are differing strategies for achieving political ends. Yes, negative messages will mobilize one’s supporters but they’ll also simultaneously alienate potential allies. So it’s a judgment call. Do I have enough votes to get what I want or do I have to compromise my position to gather support and win the day?

  99. Chris

    We should throw a bone to “The Simpsons” and change our motto to “Restroom for Citizens Only.”

  100. Wzrd1

    I WILL agree totally with “In God we trust.”
    All others must pay cash.
    As a PERSONAL or BUSINESS motto.
    For a NATIONAL motto, I’ll stick with “Out of many, one”. E. Pluribus Unim. It describes how our nation is SUPPOSED to work, so today, it’s an admonishment.
    But, all others will continue to be required to pay cash… ;)

  101. I notice that a lot of replies to this article claim that the bill “does nothing” and “serves no purpose.”

    The thing is, it DOES serve a purpose, and it DID accomplish something.

    That purpose was to garner the votes of the bible-thumpers in the various Congresscritters’ districts. Come the next election of the House of Representatives, the reps that voted “Yes” on this bill will be able to point to the Congressional record and say “See, I’m on your side! Vote for me!”

  102. Chris Winter

    With others, I object to the time spent on this bill as wasted when more important things need doing.

    I also agree that it sets up talking points for Republican campaigns.

    Finally, if you read the resolution, you will find several misstatements in the “Whereas” clauses. And the statement that “Congress supports and encourages” the motto’s display in “all public buildings, public schools, and other government institutions” is at the least a call for needless effort. But I suppose it will keep a small number of people employed for a few days.

    http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112hconres13rh/pdf/BILLS-112hconres13rh.pdf

  103. Chris Winter

    Bad Wolf wrote (#31): “Nehimiah Scudder, please pick up the White Courtesy phone…”

    For those who don’t recognize the reference, Nehemiah Scudder was the preacher in Heinlein’s If this Goes On—, which portrayed a future theocratic America.

    And to be pedantic, it wasn’t Heinlein’s first novel, as Wikipedia states. That was For Us, the Living — albeit published long after his death.

  104. Michael Swanson

    @52. David Says:

    “God > Religion”

    God = fictional, but religion = real ∴god < religion

    Although since god is a capricious, murderous, megalomaniacal madman and religion spends all of its time talking about how great he is, the difference is negligible. Probably best if both were just dropped.

  105. Bruce

    For all of you that have trouble grasping the concept of hypocrisy, my point was that Phil suggests that Congress should be focusing on more important things, as he blogs about something completely non-science related.

    And for those of you that have trouble grasping the First Amendment, this bill did NOT establish a national religion, and it did NOT prohibit the free exercise of a religion.

  106. Bruce, did you read the “Politics & Religion posts” linked under blogroll at the top right of this page? It has been pointed out to you already so before you start throwing around words like ‘hypocrisy’ take a little read.

    “And for those of you that have trouble grasping the First Amendment, this bill did NOT establish a national religion, and it did NOT prohibit the free exercise of a religion.”

    Maybe. But it was a waste of time and money and probably unconstitutional.

  107. VinceRN

    Hmmmm. I think you may have stubled upon a solution to many of out problems. We should have all legislators spend half their time making sausage, that would be far more useful than most of what they do.

    Silly law, or rather silly resolution as it is entirely meaningless in terms of law. Still, basically harmless and certainly preferable to many otherthings they might have done.

    That part of the first ammendment is a funny thing. Most religious people like the free exercise clause, but not the establishment clause. Most of you anti-religous folks are just the opposite, for the establishment clause and against the free exercise clause.

    Me, I’m unreligous, but not particularly anti-religous. I think both parts are very important to a free country and that this sentense was one of the founders more brilliant moves.

  108. QuietDesperation

    Much ado about nothing. Silly ponies.

  109. flip

    #89 Payasyoustargaze,

    I think the motto would be better suited if it also included “or none at all”.

  110. bad Jim

    noen: It’s a useless policy to avoid doing anything because it might offend someone. Any sort of change is going to upset those who depend on the status quo. If you want to make a change you have to make a difference. Dr. King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail is universally recommended.

  111. PayasYouStargaze

    @111 flip:

    None is a case of fewer than one so I don’t think it’s a necessary distinction. Take it up with the Futurama writers if you really disagree.

    Having said that, it does beg the question of demigods. That means half god. Do 2 demigods make one god? I think we need to have a lesson on god arithmetic. Are evil gods negative? Some belief systems might need to recalculate the number of gods they believe in. Reminds me of the classic joke:

    A physicist, a biologist and a mathematician are sitting in a street cafe watching people entering and leaving the house on the other side of the street. First they see two people entering the house. Time passes. After a while they notice three people leaving the house. The physicist says, “The measurement wasn’t accurate.” The biologist says, “They must have reproduced.” The mathematician says, “If one more person enters the house then it will be empty.”

  112. Nigel Depledge

    Joseph G (95) said:

    Now, if New York had just been nuked by a crazy atheist cult that was determined to eradicate all religion by force, . . .

    Yeah, any atheist cult would have to be crazy to start with NYC – they’d be taking out most of the people who are most likely to be sympathetic to their cause.

  113. Nigel Depledge

    Noen (100) said:

    Gus Snarp said:
    “Are you sure about that? ”

    Yes, not only do I believe that putting others down will not win friends, I *know* it will not.

    Moving the goalposts much?

    I don’t think Gus was talking about winning friends so much as making change happen in society. You don’t need to make friends to make changes (but obviously it will help).

    Having said that, you then went on to make a reasonable point, so I don’t get why you started out this way.

  114. #114 Nigel:
    Noen made a reasonable point – that has to be a first!!!

  115. Nigel Depledge

    Bruce (107) said:

    For all of you that have trouble grasping the concept of hypocrisy, my point was that Phil suggests that Congress should be focusing on more important things, as he blogs about something completely non-science related.

    Yes! Because Phil’s blog is absolutely as significant a part of the US federal administration as Congress. So he should refrain from posting about trivia, such as the nation’s elected representatives either wasting time on trivia or setting up electioneering talking points.

    [/snark]

    And for those of you that have trouble grasping the First Amendment, this bill did NOT establish a national religion, and it did NOT prohibit the free exercise of a religion.

    Not precisely, but it does favour monotheistic religions above both pantheistic religions and atheism, which is courting a violation. If I were a USAian and a Buddhist, I might find this pretty offensive.

    As it is, I live in a country (the UK) with a state religion (the Church of England) but where there is (currently and apparently) more freedom from religion than in the supposedly religiously-neutral USA.

  116. Nigel Depledge

    @ Neil Haggath (115) -
    I was thinking the same thing as I typed!
    ;-)

  117. Mark

    I wonder if anyone who supports this bill recognizes the irony it represents. “In God We Trust” was added to U.S. coinage (i.e. not Confederate Coinage) during the Civil War, to a large extent as a reminder to the Northerners that they were fighting on “God’s side”. The strong support this bill has in the south should therefore serve as a reminder that they were on the other side during the Civil War.

    If you’re not on God’s side, which side are you on again? Just asking…

  118. Nigel Depledge

    Vince RN (109) said:

    That part of the first ammendment is a funny thing. Most religious people like the free exercise clause, but not the establishment clause. Most of you anti-religous folks are just the opposite, for the establishment clause and against the free exercise clause.

    Eh? Who here is anti-religion?

    I’m sure even the most rabid atheist who comments here supports the right of folks everywhere to believe whatever they choose. And to practice whatever religious ceremonies they prefer in the privacy of their home or church.

    However, I think most of us here would agree that said right stops at the surface of that person’s skin. I.e. no-one has the right to foist their own brand of religious claptrap on anyone else.

    What many folks who comment here do oppose (and I think this is the source of your confusion) is using religion as a guide to reality. You appear to have confused opposition to the use of religion to inform policy as opposition to that religion itself.

  119. Gus Snarp

    @noen – I expect we’re talking at cross purposes here. On a basic level I agree that we’ve got to talk to people, set good examples, and win friends. I don’t think that you want to ridicule the people who might be your friends. But I don’t think that means you don’t get angry and you don’t express it. There are people you work with and try to convince, and there are people you can’t. The sponsor of this bill, for example, isn’t going to be convinced by anyone, and doesn’t want to be our friend. And frankly, I’m not interested in being friends with someone who thinks I should be a second class citizen.

    Yes, the anger that drove the civil rights and gay rights movements worked out quite well, as far as I can tell. You think Malcom was the only angry one? You think King wasn’t angry, or was afraid to call a bigot a bigot? You think anyone wasn’t willing to insult Bull Connor or Governor Wallace all day long? Here’s the thing, the kind of advice you’re giving is exactly the kind of advice Kennedy was giving King, that his approach would just antagonize people and wouldn’t work. And who was right? I mean, unless you believe the right wingers who think that civil rights would have been achieved just as well if people hadn’t protested and had just sat back and waited for the white men to get around to fixing it.

    Game theory is a fantastic tool, but one that must be understood to be a gross oversimplification. If game theory really modeled the complexities of democratic politics in terms of enacting broad agendas of rights, rather than just winning one contest, then we’d just put the game theorists in charge and we’d win overnight. Game theory can certainly inform strategy, and as I said at the beginning, I fundamentally agree that we need to win people over to our cause and that the wrong kind of anger directed in the wrong way damages our chances to do that, and game theory certainly can be applied in some instances, but just saying game theory proves I’m wrong doesn’t hold water with me.

    But I think the problem here is that we have different definitions of what anger and ridicule are and, perhaps, when they’re appropriate. So maybe you could clarify for me, in the face of this idiotic congressional resolution, some examples of being too angry, mocking, ridiculing, etc.? If it’s just a comment here that I skimmed over, I don’t think that counts. Comments on a scientific blog aren’t really a major front in the public relations battle. Show me something personal and highly public, so I understand just what you’re talking about.

  120. John F

    “You appear to have confused opposition to the use of religion to inform policy as opposition to that religion itself.”

    I’m not sure that’s much of a distinction in practice.

    “Who here is anti-religion?”
    eh… quite a few?

    “However, I think most of us here would agree that said right stops at the surface of that person’s skin. I.e. no-one has the right to foist their own brand of religious claptrap on anyone else.” well I hope so.

    “That part of the first ammendment is a funny thing. Most religious people like the free exercise clause, but not the establishment clause”
    I disagree- if you define “religious people” as “evangelicals who live in a community where they are at least a plurality,” then yes I’d agree that they do not like the establishment clause- but if you have noticed some of the anti-sharia law proposals (or past efforts to wipe out Catholic schools) they don’t like the free-exercise provision either.

    To be perfectly honest, and I may be biased, but in this Country the only significant “religious” groups I see who actively dislike the establishment clause are certain Protestant Evangelicals (Southern Baptists in particular) and Mormons (in Utah- put them where they are a small minority and they like that establishment clause just fine).

  121. Ian M. Fallon

    “In God We Trust, All Others We Monitor.”
    Read that on a Navy Intelligence patch once.

  122. Jess Tauber

    In SCIENCE We Trust- what the rest of you believe is your own affair

  123. Dan I.

    My biggest problem with this is the sheer waste of time and the hypocrisy of the GOP and Tea Party.

    This cost $200,000 in a time when GOP is SHRIEKING about ANY amount of unnecessary spending. But $200,000 to “reinforce the national motto” when there is NO serious challenge to it is A-ok.

  124. Joseph G

    @ 98 Pete C: I literally LOL-ed.

  125. Anchor

    “Well, it’s not shocking in that everything the Republican-majority House has done in the past few months has been pretty antireality…”

    Are you kidding? Just in the last few months, aye?

  126. QuietDesperation

    If you’re not on God’s side, which side are you on again? Just asking…

    I’m currently in a crisis of faith choosing between Nyarlathotep and Princess Celestia.

  127. Anchor

    @127 Jess Tauber, who says, “In SCIENCE We Trust- what the rest of you believe is your own affair.”

    Yes. As long as THEIR affair doesn’t interfere with the rest of us. And as long as THEIR affairs keep messing up OUR government, the rest of us have to make it OUR affair – not only to stop and reverse the consequences of their ignorant yet extraordinarily impudent and arrogant self glorified righteousness, but to educate them and their progeny about the wonders of nature and the actual realities we face and how science – NOT religious superstition – supplies the best solutions to whatever ails us all.

  128. flip

    #114 Payasyoustargaze,

    I didn’t know the phrase was from Futura – I don’t watch the show.

    I do like your point about the demigods and the joke.

    #124 Gus Snarp

    Reading your comment I suddenly realised that this was my own thoughts on noen’s comments, but were far more articulate. Thanks for saying what I could not.

  129. Messier Tidy Upper

    @81. Chet Twarog :

    # 53 Messier Tidy Upper – thanks for your inquiry. It is really the “Star of Bethlehem” because it looks exactly like * and not two triangles making six points. So, a white Christian cross on the bottom left and the “star” on the upper right (right hand of god).

    Thanks for your reply. Curious thing really – never heard of the Star of Bethelehem being used as an identifying symbol like that before. :-)

    @99. Keith Bowden : A little OT, but appropriate, I think: click on my name for Cracked‘s “5 Logical Fallacies That Make You Wrong More Than You Think.”

    Thanks – good article and so true. :-)

    @102. Wzrd1 :

    I WILL agree totally with “In God we trust.” All others must pay cash. As a PERSONAL or BUSINESS motto. For a NATIONAL motto, I’ll stick with “Out of many, one”. E. Pluribus Unim. It describes how our nation is SUPPOSED to work, so today, it’s an admonishment.

    Or how about this quote by Thomas Jefferson in 1789 :

    “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.”

    Seen in the current (29th October 2011) issue of ‘NewScientist’ magazine or – from the same souce but this time spoken by Alexis de Toqueville :

    “In every democracy, people get the government they deserve.”

    Sigh. That second one there might make people think but its actually a fairly depressing statement. :-(

    As national mottos go I guess ‘From many one” still works pretty well although maybe English woyuld be better than Latin?

  130. Messier Tidy Upper

    @121. Mark : If you’re not on God’s side, which side are you on again? Just asking…

    That questions raises a whole lot of other questions – three key examples being :

    1) Whose / which God, gods or goddesses?

    2) Does God even have sides? Phyiscally *and* metaphorically? Some religions feature God(s) being partisan and often interving in Human affairs / this mortal realm whilst others do not prefering instead a non-interventionist diety(ies) instead.

    3) How do you know whose side God(~ddess/s) is on? It is very easy to say that “God is on *our* side.” Very frequently two or more opposing or competing parties will claim that – sometimes even referring to the same diety. But proving or tangibly knowing that for sure is another very different matter!

    If you are asking whether or not I’m on Gods side then as an agnostic I’d have to answer simply that I do not know.

    Plus that, more complexly, it would depend on a whole lot of things starting with the question of whether there is a God on whose side to be in the first place. On the issue of the number and nature of the God/~ddess/s in question. That assuming a benevolent good god I’d hope so but cannot be certain. That assuming a malevolent negative God, I’d hope to opposed but, again, couldn’t be certain and in that situation would wish for an opposing Gooddess / God / Supernatural Force to exist also to provide us with some countering balance and hope of something good instead.

  131. Messier Tidy Upper

    @106. Michael Swanson :

    Although since god is a capricious, murderous, megalomaniacal madman and religion spends all of its time talking about how great he is, the difference is negligible. Probably best if both were just dropped. [Emphasis added.]

    God *is* that is (S)he? Really?

    That sounds like Richard Dawkins rather one-sided and unbalanced characterisation of God (the Biblical variety specifically if memory serves) but that characterisation of Him certainly isn’t one that many religious people incl. some very nice and kind and reasonable individuals would share or agree with you on.

    Those people who do believe in God – and I am not one of them – generally characterise God as Loving, Just, Merciful, etc .. although their behaviour it is true doesn’t always live up to that and there are some pretty nasty actions of God described in many religious texts. In essence, things there are a lot more complicated than your comment argues.

  132. Messier Tidy Upper

    NB. What I wrote about God’s supposed nature ^ applies also to # 94. BJN.

    @63. James :

    heathen (adj)
    1. not adhering to an Abrahamic religion; pagan.
    2. (by extension) uncultured; uncivilized; savage, philistine.
    3. pertaining to currents of Germanic neo-paganism known as Heathenry.
    (of course, I didn’t know that until I looked it up to check )

    Thanks for that. :-)

    Although I will quicky note that heathens – pagans – are still religious not “godless” or atheists.

    @90. Keith Bowden :

    @MTU – the quote you’re thinking of comes from the late, great Bill Hicks: “A lot of Christians where crosses around their necks. You think when Jesus comes back he ever wants to see a f—— cross? It’s kinda like going up to Jackie Onassis with a little sniper rifle pendant. ‘Hey Jackie, just thinking of John.’”

    Thanks. :-)

    @105. Chris Winter :

    For those who don’t recognize the reference [by Bad Wolf #31], Nehemiah Scudder was the preacher in Heinlein’s If this Goes On—, which portrayed a future theocratic America. And to be pedantic, it wasn’t Heinlein’s first novel, as Wikipedia states. That was For Us, the Living — albeit published long after his death.

    Thanks. :-)

    I got the original Scudder reference but didn’t know that extra info there – although I guess it depends on whether you think of things in publication order or writing order.

  133. Infinite123Lifer

    106. Michael Swanson Says:
    November 2nd, 2011 at 5:30 pm
    @52. David Says:
    “God > Religion”
    God = fictional, but religion = real ∴god < religion
    Although since god is a capricious, murderous, megalomaniacal madman and religion spends all of its time talking about how great he is, the difference is negligible. Probably best if both were just dropped.

    If God does not exist then why all the adjectives?

    It seems patently ridiculous to discuss the nature of something which you claim does not exist. More ridiculous even than those people whom you sarcastically poke jabs at who believe in such a consciousness. Furthermore, I have not read in science where such a consciousness is proven not to exist.

    Yeah, I am aware that Flying Spaghetti Monsters have not be ruled out either, however I prefer to live with the reality that science currently cannot offer a proof to explain everything in the Universe; it's beginning, it's end nor the ultimate parameters of our existence or what happens to my consciousness when I die, nor do I expect science to deliver such ultimate revelations anytime soon. What science does do is provide me with understanding about my world that can be empirically proven; therefore, God=fictional is not a true statement nor is it provable, it is just as non-sensical as God=real. Or is it okay to say

    "Flying Spaghetti Monsters are capricious, murderous, megalomaniacal madman."
    See, I sound like an idiot.

    If you think it best to just drop it, than perhaps you should have just dropped it to begin with.

    94. BJN Says:
    November 2nd, 2011 at 1:52 pm
    If there is a God, he/it’s devious, duplicitous, capricious, homicidal, irrational, vengeful, sadistic, and racist along with a vast number of other negative traits. Why the hell would I trust that deity?

    "IF". . .

    I think your suffering from the same thing as Michael Swanson.

    If there is a Flying Spaghetti Monster than he/it's devious, duplicitous, capricious, homicidal, irrational, vengeful, sadistic, and racist along with a vast number of other negative traits. Why the hell would I trust a Flying Spaghetti Monster?
    See, I sound like an idiot.

    "IF", "THEN". . . horrible deduction, absurd reasoning, reminiscent of ID.

    What does this have to do with the US House of Representatives? It should not have anything to do with it. Separation of church and state is a solid building block I think, although with the passing of this law it continues to seem that such separation is still just a fairy-tale in the United States.

  134. Nigel Depledge

    Mark (121) said:

    If you’re not on God’s side, which side are you on again? Just asking…

    That’s easy. Richard Dawkins’s.

  135. Nigel Depledge

    MTU (136) said:

    Those people who do believe in God – and I am not one of them – generally characterise God as Loving, Just, Merciful, etc .. although their behaviour it is true doesn’t always live up to that and there are some pretty nasty actions of God described in many religious texts. In essence, things there are a lot more complicated than your comment argues.

    Yeah, many Christians kinda ignore the OT most of the time. If you judge the attributes of god by the amount of spece devoted to them in the bible, Michael Swanson’s characterisation is not far off the mark.

  136. Nigel Depledge

    Infinite123Lifer (138) said:

    If there is a Flying Spaghetti Monster than he/it’s devious, duplicitous, capricious, homicidal, irrational, vengeful, sadistic, and racist along with a vast number of other negative traits. Why the hell would I trust a Flying Spaghetti Monster?
    See, I sound like an idiot.

    Yes, but only because the Christian god is described in the OT of the bible as possessing many of those characteristics (e.g. demanding that Abraham sacrifice his son, then stepping in at the last second and saying “heh, just testing, you don’t have to kill him for me after all”); whereas the FSM is does not have a “sacred” text assigning all those characteristics to it.

  137. Joseph G

    @131 Quiet Desperation: I’m currently in a crisis of faith choosing between Nyarlathotep and Princess Celestia.

    That’s a tough one. Nyarlahotep probably has a bigger following, and has some really cool toys. Plus he’s just plain charismatic. Also, no one will laugh at you for bowing to him.
    On the other hand, Princess Celestia won’t drive you insane and enslave you to do the bidding of the Outer Gods. Plus she smells like strawberry cupcakes.

    So, yeah, six of one, half dozen of the other.

  138. Joseph G

    @115 Nigel: Yeah, any atheist cult would have to be crazy to start with NYC – they’d be taking out most of the people who are most likely to be sympathetic to their cause.

    If they were rational, they wouldn’t be a cult :)

  139. Joseph G

    @90 Keith Bowden: @MTU – the quote you’re thinking of comes from the late, great Bill Hicks:

    “A lot of Christians where crosses around their necks. You think when Jesus comes back he ever wants to see a f—— cross? It’s kinda like going up to Jackie Onassis with a little sniper rifle pendant. ‘Hey Jackie, just thinking of John.’”

    Ah, Bill Hicks. The good always die young.

  140. Tim

    Thanks, Phil, now I have a bunch of hopefully clever folks following me on Google Plus (and a few religious nutters).
    I’ve sent a note to my Rep, Adam Smith of WA (a Democrat!), expressing my dismay at his “Yea” vote on this waste of time and money.

  141. Mark

    Nigel @ 139.

    Nope, not Richard Dawkin’s side. He is also surely also on God’s side, if you read the first paragraph of my post which noted that “In God We Trust” was put on US coins during the Civil War to remind Northerners that God was on their side. Mr. Dawkins surely finds slavery even more abhorrent than belief in God.

  142. Infinite123Lifer

    I see.
    So if I enter in OTGod for every God or god @ 106 then my depiction of a Flying Spaghetti Monster doesn’t make me sound like such an idiot? At this point I would like to rephrase my terminology since explaining or judging someone as being an idiot (which is exactly what I was doing) based upon their imagination only negates my main objective. . . I would not sound like unspecified nonsense?

    Also I would think that if the main forefront of this battle were with Christians that rational folks would give them the benefit of the doubt about these older testaments. After all as far as I understand the Bible sought to explain things which could not be explained at the time. As does most of humanity in some way then & now.

    Thank My God for Science.
    How do you like them apples? ;-)

  143. Infinite123Lifer

    I am still voting for you for president Nigel. :-)
    Watch out if you have to run against any agnostic’s though.
    Indeed my vote goes to the one with the greatest imagination. . .how peculiar is that o_O

  144. Messier Tidy Upper

    This youtube video :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pwwvBygoFA

    by DarkMatter2525 is kinda relevant here.

    Especially at the 3 minutes thirty second mark.

    Although the whole thing make some good, forceful albeit one-sided points.

  145. This is one of the reasons i’m glad not to be an american, your country -witch I like- is gonna became a neo-fasist nation if it continues walking its current way. That’s sad.

  146. tim Rowledge

    *I’m sure even the most rabid atheist who comments here supports the right of folks everywhere to believe whatever they choose. And to practice whatever religious ceremonies they prefer in the privacy of their home or church.*
    Nope.
    I certainly don’t support the first, but I accept it only to the extent that their beliefs are not used to mess up my life. And I really doubt anyone actually accepts the second – are Baalists allowed to throw children into furnaces? Are followers of the old Maya religion permitted to cut the still beating hearts out of human sacrifices?

  147. Nigel Depledge

    Mark (146) said:

    Nigel @ 139.

    Nope, not Richard Dawkin’s side. He is also surely also on God’s side, if you read the first paragraph of my post which noted that “In God We Trust” was put on US coins during the Civil War to remind Northerners that God was on their side. Mr. Dawkins surely finds slavery even more abhorrent than belief in God.

    Heh. I guess my comedic use of a selective quote failed to work.

  148. Nigel Depledge

    Tim Rowledge (151) said:

    *I’m sure even the most rabid atheist who comments here supports the right of folks everywhere to believe whatever they choose. And to practice whatever religious ceremonies they prefer in the privacy of their home or church.*
    Nope.
    I certainly don’t support the first, but I accept it only to the extent that their beliefs are not used to mess up my life. And I really doubt anyone actually accepts the second – are Baalists allowed to throw children into furnaces? Are followers of the old Maya religion permitted to cut the still beating hearts out of human sacrifices?

    Erm, yeah, your concerns were addressed in my very next paragraph, to whit:

    I said (#122):

    However, I think most of us here would agree that said right stops at the surface of that person’s skin. I.e. no-one has the right to foist their own brand of religious claptrap on anyone else.

    So, our sentiments are close echoes.

    Along these lines, I had a brilliant thought (well, it dazzled me):-

    What if religious indoctrination of children under the age of (say) 16 were prohibited? Give kids some basic knowledge and reasoning skills, and then introduce religion. What would the world be like then?

  149. Meg H.

    I love the phrase, “In God We Trust,” but I agree with this stance. While it is inspiring for many millions of Christians and even Jews, it has little to no place in the lives of many other religions. Most religions have a “God” that they revere and respect, but this turn of phrase is not and cannot be all-inclusive. “E Pluribus Unum” is a considerably better motto for our nation because, as someone said earlier, it poetically reflects about how our nation is a melting pot and suits us better culturally.

    Because we united as a nation from the getgo in the Revolutionary War, and because this nation has been famed as a nation of peace and prosperity for everyone that works hard enough from the beginning, it is important that we realize and look to that through forever changing times. Immigration will never stop, and race will never stop. Americans should not ignore that.

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