A sign of the times

I was getting coffee with the spouse at one of those places and took a 10-spot out of the wallet to pay the bill. Ten bucks to cover two medium — excuse me, “Grande” — coffees. My Old Man must be wondering what’s become of the world — and me — since he left.

Looking at the $10 bill before passing it over, I saw good old Alexander Hamilton on the front, and on the back the familiar legend, “In God We Trust.”

“In God We Trust” on government property, printed on government presses. It’s been that way since 1955 by Congressional mandate. Since 1956 it has been our national motto.

During the French Revolution, the secular zealots were not just after the overthrow of the monarchy. They wanted a complete social revolution as well. Among other things, that meant the destruction of the Church and all public expressions of religious belief. Among their tactics was the attempt to impose a new calendar to replace the traditional calendar that was filled with feast days and holidays based on the life of Christ, the liturgical seasons and the saints.

They changed seven-day Scriptural weeks into blocks of 10 to eliminate the Sunday Sabbath. In rural France, they forced on the farmers days named for fruits and vegetables in place of the seasonal Christian feasts celebrated for countless generations. The French Revolutionary Calendar was a miserable failure. Introduced in November 1793 at a celebration of the goddess “Reason” in the confiscated Notre Dame Cathedral, it was unpopular, universally ignored and disappeared within just a few years.

The Gregorian calendar decreed by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 is the basis of our secular calendar today. And it still retains — from Christmas to Easter, St. Valentine’s Day to St. Patrick’s Day, Ash Wednesday to Good Friday — its Catholic heritage. Nobody complains. And if they do, nobody pays attention because it transcends every sectarian difference.

So anyway, in Pittsburgh’s Allegheny County a little while ago, a proposal to post “In God We Trust” in the county courthouse was rejected. While it was a Republican-Democrat thing (a Republican proposed it so the Democrats rejected it), the rhetoric got really funny.

One council member complained that to post “In God We Trust” would be a violation of church-state separation. The Supreme Court has ruled that it’s not a problem, but it is amazing how many secular ideologues consider themselves experts on church-state separation when all they really know is their prejudices rather than constitutional law.

But my favorite comment came in a letter to council members from Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald. He urged them to reject “In God We Trust” because it “tells our residents and visitors that if they are Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist, Muslim, Islamic or any other nontheist group, they are not welcome here.”

Good Lord. (If I might use that expression.)

After proving that their knowledge of both constitutional law and comparative religions was, charitably, a little weak, they hauled out the “diversity” club. Today, if anyone says “diversity” you know that people of faith are in trouble. “Diversity” is the single biggest rhetorical buzzword for censorship and banning of faith-based language, sentiments or public positions.

The fact that “In God We Trust” encompasses all creeds and is an expression of true transcendent diversity meant nothing. The national motto was banned from the Allegheny County courthouse. The vote was generally along party lines.

Then maybe they all had coffee. I wonder who paid. And with what.

Robert P. Lockwood writes from Pennsylvania.