by Archbishop Council Nedd II
In November of 1861, as the nation faced the prospect of a long and bloody civil war, a lone preacher from Ridleyville, Pennsylvania wrote to Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase with an idea.
The Reverend M. R. Watkinson proposed that America’s currency be used to remind its citizens of our common religious heritage and the divine inspiration that gave birth to United States. Secretary Chase agreed, and “In God We Trust” was added to the design of the two-cent coin in 1864.
Today, America faces new challenges concerning our national safety and unity. We must contend with an unpopular war oversees, crises in health care and education and a government that seems more concerned with trivial partisan matters than in solving real problems.
Secretary Chase and the Reverend Watkinson realized back then that the true strength of the United States was its unique commitment to being “One nation, under God.” Today, however, there are people among us who are determined to subvert religious expression and undermine our common heritage and national unity.
Instead of celebrating the religious convictions that inspired America’s founding and helped build the shared heritage that still binds our people together, these radicals are attacking them. Under the guise of promoting “liberty,” they are pitting American against American in a ruthless attempt to ban all recognition of God from public life. They lobby to change our currency. They push to ban prayer in schools. They fight tooth-and-nail to tear down a picture of the Ten Commandments from a courthouse wall.
Instead of using their considerable energy and organizational skills to solve real problems, they attack Christian groups that serve the poor by administering government grants.
These soldiers in the army of political correctness claim religion is divisive and hurtful. Yet it is they and their dangerous fanaticism that seek to devolve and divide our nation into primitive tribes of squabbling special interest groups. America is a religious nation founded on religious principles. That is a fact. Our belief that there is a higher power than politicians or government is a unifying force. It is a heritage that we are obligated by our creator to defend.
It is time to push back against these radicals and their ridiculous ideas. We must stand up to the militant left and its efforts to divide our great nation by banning the public recognition of God. For too long, anti-religious radicals have been awarded too much respect. Their arguments are no longer the kooky ideas thought up by out-of-touch college professors. The anti-religion lobby in the United States is large and growing. Its influence has spawned an entirely new vocabulary of hate speech such as “Jesus freak” and “Christofacists.” Bigoted comments are also directed at our Jewish brothers and sisters on so-called “progressive” online forums.
This contempt for people of faith and America’s roots is tearing our nation apart.
Over 150 years ago, America faced a great challenge. Our leaders rose to the occasion by placing their faith and the fate of their nation in God’s hands. Will our leaders do the same today, or will left-wing interest groups succeed in dividing our nation even further?
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Project 21 member Council Nedd II, the bishop of the Chesapeake and the Northeast for the Episcopal Missionary Church, is the honorary chairman of In God We Trust (http://www.ingodwetrustusa.org) – a group formed to oppose anti-religious bigotry. Comments may be sent to Project21@nationalcenter.org .
Published by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21 or the National Center for Public Policy Research.