On July 30th, 1956 President Eisenhower signed a law declaring “In God We Trust” as our national motto. In regards to that act he made the following statement,
“In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war.”
His sentiments are similar to those of our founding fathers. It was faith in a higher being and a belief that we are all bound by a higher law that drove the Founders to start a revolution and establish a new nation. This faith in God continued throughout our Nation’s history. In fact the phrase “In God we trust first appeared on our currency in 1864 when it appeared on the two cent coin. And then in 1907 when the new gold coin was issued the phrase was omitted. The American people were so outraged that God was omitted that in 1908 Congress passed a law requiring that “In God we trust” should appear on all coins that it had previously appeared on.
In more recent years the phrase has become controversial and was even challenged in the federal courts. The challenge was rejected in the lower courts and the Us Supreme Court refused to take the case. Why does the phrase mean so much? Why so much fuss over four simple words? Because that is what makes us America. We are different from every other nation in the world because we acknowledge not only that there is a God but that we are dependent on his continuous blessings. Our understanding of human rights comes from our belief that God made men free. Our laws, our form of government, our justice system, everything is based on the understanding that there is a higher law. That is why we value morality; morality in our leaders, communities, and in ourselves.
Unfortunately, Americans have slowly and steadily begun to walk away from all of this. From our faith, our heritage, our history, and as a result our future. In his book Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis discussed why we need God and the dangers of walking away from him.
“A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on himself. He himself is the fuel our Spirits were designed to burn, or the food our Spirits were designed to eat on…That is the key to history. Terrific energy is expanded- civilizations are built up-excellent institutions devised; but each time something goes wrong. Some fatal flaw always brings the selfish and cruel people to the top and it all slides back into misery and ruin. In fact, the machine conks. It seems to start up all right and runs a few yards and then it breaks down. They are trying to run it on the wrong fuel.”
I believe this is where we are now. We have prospered as a nation. We have beat the odds over and over again. So many times we came up against impossible odds and with not enough resources, not the right training, and insufficient numbers we come out on top. We have become the leaders of the world setting a standard of freedom for the rest of the world. But what we have to ask ourselves is “are we still qualified to fill that role?” I believe this is a choice the American people have to make. We have to decide if we want to continue to champion the principles of freedom. We have to decide if we will continue to be the leaders of freedom.
C.S. Lewis said:
“If you have taken a wrong turn, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man. There is nothing progressive about being pig-headed and refusing to admit a mistake. And I think if you look at the present state of the world it’s pretty plain that humanity has been making some big mistakes. We’re on the wrong road. And if that is so we must go back. Going back is the quickest way on”.
As Ronald Reagan said, “It’s a simple answer after all”. We have to return to being a people who value morality and who demand it of ourselves and of our leaders. We have to return to being a people who trust in God.