February 24, 2018 – In its zeal to prevent future school shootings like the one in Parkland, Fla., the Florida state House voted to post our national motto, “In God We Trust,” in every school in the state.
Allow me to interject two things. First, I am not anti-gun. I used to sell firearms. I own handguns. However, weapons as the AR-15 are meant for military purposes, not for hunting or home protection.
Second, E Pluribus Unum, “From Many, One,” has a long history, but it was never the official motto of the United States. I discuss the origins of our national motto in Chapter 10 of my book, A Christian Nation: An examination of Christian nation theories and proofs.
Our de facto motto found its origins on the masthead of a literary magazine, “The Gentleman’s Magazine.” Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams were assigned by the Continental Congress the task of designing the official seal for the new nation. Jefferson’s design is found on the “observed side” or front of the seal, the familiar bald eagle with arrows and olive branch, while Franklin’s pyramid and Freemason’s “all seeing eye” are on the “reverse side.” It was Pierre Eugene du Simitier who suggested that the magazine’s masthead be used on the seal.
Why defacto? Though ordered by the Continental Congress, the motto was never formally recognized by either the Confederation or federal congresses. It was not until 1956 and Joint Resolution 396 that “In God We Trust” was officially recognized as our national motto. It was a propaganda ploy by the United States to differentiate ourselves from our mortal enemy, the godless Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the USSR.
So why does the Florida House want the motto posted on the walls of every school in the state? As reported by the Associated Press, bill sponsor Rep. Kimberly Daniels “said that God is the ‘light’ and ‘our schools need light in them like never before.‘” She continued that though the issue of guns needed to be addressed, the “real thing that needs to be addressed are issues of the heart.”
This falls in line with the statements made by some conservative Christian preachers that the shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida would never have happened if God and prayer were permitted in our public schools.
There are two obvious errors here. The first is that churches, mosques, synagogues and temples have also been the targets of mass shooting since the Columbine High School massacre of 1999.
The second is that prayer is not forbidden in our public school as long as the administration is not sponsoring the activity. Many schools have Christian clubs that meet regularly, as long as they are treated as any other student club.
However, as Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted on February 16,
“Evidence collected over many years, obtained from many locations, indicates that the power of Prayer is insufficient to stop bullets from killing school children.”
This is the same state assembly that voted down a bill that would have restricted the purchase of military-style firearms in the state of Florida and would not consider bills that would increase the age to purchase such weapons from 18 to 21 years of age. This is a conservative-Republican controlled state House and Senate which leans heavily on the absolutism of the Second Amendment, that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
The assembly, along with other GOP majority state and federal assemblies, also relies heavily on the support of their right-wing conservative-Christian supporters who, faced with an ever-growing secular community, want to shove their dogma down the throats of every American regardless of belief, religion or sect.
Will the posting of “In God We Trust” stop a person or persons from shooting up a school, church, temple or synagogue? Of course it will not. It is an effort to appease the GOP’s religious base.
We must do a number of things to counter this form of silly legislation. We must demand that the laws change to permit persons over 21 to purchase a long gun or handgun. We must limit, restrict or eliminate the sale of military-style semi-automatic rifles. We must strengthen the NICS background check system. We must have better comprehensive reporting of persons with mental illness to the FBI and the ATF for the NICS check. We must make parents liable for not locking their firearms away. We must permit state and national government firearm buyback programs that would destroy the firearms as opposed to putting the weapon back on the streets through a licensed firearms dealer.
Most important, we must vote in the 2018 and 2020 elections, to voice our discontent of the current administrations. The GOP and related organizations are great at organizing grassroots efforts to get out the vote (GOTV). We must do better if we are to change the course of human events in our nation.