Tuesday, February 8, 2011

E pluribus unum means me too!

For more than 150 years, until 1956, the de facto motto of the United States of America was E pluribus unum, which means out of many, one. Originally, that motto was meant to show that out of the individual colonies or states of North America, between what is now Canada and Mexico, emerged a single, united nation. It was a motto endorsed by our founding fathers, who envisioned a secular nation. But by the 20th century, it was also seen to mean that many peoples, races, religions and ancestries make up this one country, creating a single people and nation.

It was an incredibly appropriate motto for my country. It was one that any citizen of our country could support and feel proud of.

Sadly, in 1956 -- just one year after the phrase "under God" was incorporated into the secular Pledge of Allegiance - the motto was replaced by a new, official motto: in God We Trust, a statement that isn't true for several million citizens of the USA, including the one whose blog you are reading now. My country went from a beautifully representative, uniquely American motto to one that sends the message that the USA excludes myself and my fellow Atheists -- we just live here, we don't belong.

I'm sure the speeches in Congress that urged support for this religious-based motto sounded a lot like the justifications used to call certain countries The Islamic Country of...(Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan...). And I'm sure the USA Christians that support the revised motto would cringe at the idea of living in a country where the official state religion wasn't their own. But it's just fine to exclude those that don't adhere to their religion fromthe national motto of the USA.

If there is a movement to restore E pluribus unum, let me know: I'll sign on!

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