Thursday, January 19, 2006

John Doolittle - Historically Challenged

When Republican members of congress find themselves facing increasing public and prosecutorial scrutiny for their backroom antics they tend to find a patriotic cause around which to wrap themselves. For Duke Cunningham it was his flag burning amendment to the Constitution. So it is for Representative John Doolittle (CA-4) who must be feeling the noose of the Abramoff investigation beginning to tighten.

Doolittle is sponsoring a resolution supporting our national motto, "In God We Trust." Mottos being in much danger lately, Doolittle's concern stems from the possibility that some atheist will force the government to remove said motto from U.S. currency. How evil. What would Jesus say about that. Perhaps his response was captured in John 2: 13-16.

I digress. Back to Doolittle and his completely inaccurate claim that:

"'In God We Trust' is as old as the Republic itself and is an integral part of the Constitution and our religious liberties," Doolittle said. "Our national motto reflects the traditional sentiment that the recognition of God is deeply interwoven into the fabric of our daily lives."

Yes, trust in God does indeed predate the Republic. But, the national motto, "In God We Trust" was not recognized until 1956. Hardly, the birth of the Republic, John. Our nation's founders selected a far more inclusive motto for our country: E pluribus unum - "From many, one" or "Out of many, one." That would have been a good motto to save, John.

Relative to United States coinage, the phrase, "In God We Trust," was not utilized until close to the end of the Civil War. At that time, Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase responded to public appeals and an understandable upsurge in religious sentiment during this nation's most bloody conflict. Chase suggested several variations including "Our Country; Our God," "God, Our Trust", etc. before finally settling on "In God We Trust."

The first U.S. coin with that motto appeared in 1864. The motto appeared on and off on different denominations of coinage until around 1916 when it had become a feature on all denominations.

It wasn't until after the 1956 change of the national motto that "In God We Trust" was used on United States paper money.

Wrapped in the flag, John Doolittle still has to change the facts to make his story work. At least if he is going to mis-speak about something, he should avoid an issue so clearly part of the public record that the United State Treasure web site has the complete details and history of the use of "In God We Trust."

We certainly can't place any trust in Doolittle.