Earlier this week the Chesapeake city council made a decision that I find to be deeply un-American, and deeply offensive.
They voted 7 votes to zero to prominently display the words “In God We Trust” in their chambers and elsewhere in City Hall, as reported by The Pilot’s
“Displaying ‘In God We Trust’ in no way infringes upon the right of others” who have secular beliefs, said Councilwoman Suzy Kelly, below.
If that is so, let me offer Councilwoman Kelly and the rest of the leadership in Chesapeake a suggestion: if the idea is to be inclusive of all visions and versions of God, why not vary the signs to honor the Gods of those citizens who do not believe in the Christian God being referred to here?
In God We Trust, yes.
But also, In Allah We Trust.
In G-D We Trust.
In Jah We Trust.
In Gods We Trust.
In the Buddha We Trust.
In Ganesha We Trust.
They have got to do something other than just a bunch of “In God We Trust” signs, because what they’re doing right now is losing the trust of non-Christian citizens across Chesapeake.
“As an agnostic, it’s infuriating that they utterly disregarded how a person without the same belief system would feel about this promotion of god prominently displayed in a place where their religious beliefs should be set aside, a place where they should think reasonably and without judgement or religious bias,” said Cristina Fletcher of Chesapeake. “It has been historically proven time and time again that separation of church and state is required protection for a country’s people. We decided as a country that we are capable of understanding and upholding natural rights without the interference and boundaries of religion.”
In ignoring the Constitution, the leaders of Chesapeake have lost the faith of many in their town. Which is sad, and in a way, ironic: to feel better about their beliefs being the societal authority, they lowered the faith of many in an institution just as functionally important as the church, the city.
“‘In God We Trust’ makes me feel like our local government has forgotten something incredibly important for local, state and federal government to remember: ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,'” said Chesapeake’s Be Essert. “When government buildings, schools, courts, etc clearly indicate that the government of a place has a specific religious affiliation, it severely limits the trust that those of other religions are able to place in those institutions.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to Chesapeake urging them to not go forward with the proposal, calling it “unnecessary and divisive.”
Of course, they are correct. This “In God We Trust” madness has been pushed by the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, which states in the About section of their website:
The Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, Inc. (CPCF) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization committed to protecting religious liberties, advocating for the right of individuals to engage in public prayer and the expression of faith in God, and restoring Judeo-Christian principles to their rightful place.
Restore Christian values to their rightful place…. sure smells like Make America Great Again, doesn’t it?
We are dealing with people who are openly hypocritical, and openly dismissive of all viewpoints of God that are not their own, so hoping to reason with them feels like a fool’s errand. My instinct is to say, damn, I hope every non-Christian in Chesapeake has the resources to move away from a city that dismisses their deepest faith and understanding of the universe, but isn’t that what they want? “In God We Trust” signs are another form of Trump’s wall. They’re another anti-immigrant witch hunt. They are everything horrible this country was, and everything it will never be again when this last generation raised on White Christian Entitlement passes on to the Kingdom.
“A few weeks ago in conversation I jokingly referred to Chesapeake’s population as a small town church potluck group, having no clue that this issue was even being discussed,” said Chesapeake’s Kim Breeding-Mercer. “I’m pissed off but not at all surprised.”
Personally, I have been blessed by the presence of God in surround sound. I was raised — and confirmed — Catholic. My mother is Jewish, so I was also raised among the culture of that faith. As an adult, through study and yoga, I found God in Eastern philosophies, and through music I found the spirit of what Rasta call Jah. But the God that I pray to, the God that I live for, is found in all of us. I believe that God is how we treat each other. It is each of us that manifests the Devil or calls the spirit of the Lord here to earth.
I trust in God because I trust that the more inclusive, generous, and welcoming we are to our fellow woman and man, the brighter God’s light shines.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Romans, 12:15-18:
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Jah bless us, one and all.