Now that Christmas is upon us, the fundamentalists are upping their efforts to keep God in the headlines, along with their fight to keep the word "God" in the Pledge of Allegiance and on U.S. currency. I'm always fascinated by their wilful ignorance about our history. The fact is the word "God" was not there in 1776, either on our money or in the Pledge. It got added later, thanks to a whole lot of fundamentalist politicking. Clearly some of our founders were not the textbook Christians that the fundies say.
Over-reacting to "Under God"
In recent years, a number of organizations and individuals have gone to court seeking to remove the words "God" from our pledge and our money. Right now, Michael Newdow, a Sacramento doctor and lawyer, is in the headlines for suing his school district, saying it is unconstitutional for children to be forced to recite the godded-up pledge. In 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Newdow, so he has filed a new lawsuit.
Years ago, my mother, who collected early American coins, got me interested in the question of which deity's name is on our money. When the 13 colonies first became the United States of America, the first gold and silver dollars that our government minted had the image of the Goddess of Liberty all over them, along with her name, which was also the nation's new motto -- "Liberty." My mother, who was a devout Presbyterian, thought it was intriguing that an allegedly Christian and Bible-loving nation would put a pagan Goddess on their money. How could that happen?
Eventually I wrote a historical article about this fascinating story. For a while I submitted this article around to some indie and academic publishers, touting it as a proposal for a possible mind-blowing nonfic title. But they wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole. Nobody, it seems, wants to be reminded that Liberty is a pagan. So I published the article myself.
It's an amazing and hair-raising historical drama about how the conservative religious folks of this country screamed and lobbied for a long time against Liberty. After the Civil War they finally got the motto "Liberty" wiped off our coins, replaced by "in God we trust." Getting the actual picture of the Goddess off our money was a bigger fight, because so many Americans loved Her. It took the fundies till around 1930 to get the hatchet job done. Incidentally, this is the same Liberty who stands in New York Harbor -- the fundies would like to get rid of the Statue of Liberty, too. Trust me, She isn't found in the Holy Bible.
There's a similar story about the Pledge of Allegiance and how it was godified after World War II. Read it and weep. These people who lie about American history are the same people who lie about gays being "immoral."
Copyright (c) 2007 by Patricia Nell Warren. All rights reserved.