Even though our nation’s motto is ‘In God We Trust,’ Tarrant County tax assessor and collector Ron Wright is being attacked for violating the made up constitutional provision of separating church and state for adding the phrase to his office’s envelopes and tax statements.
The ironic part of all of this is that our money that we use to pay our taxes is emblazoned with “In God We Trust.”
Here’s what one critic of the ‘In God We Trust’ addition wrote:
“I consider that a violation of the doctrine of separation of church and state. It is true that my coins and bills contain this phrase, but it has been on those for years and I suppose I have grown accustomed,” wrote Leslie Weid Fraser. “This (the return envelope) is something new and a lot closer to home. Those are my tax dollars, and I don’t want them funding a religious opinion.”
Ms. Fraser might want to take a look at the Preamble to the Texas Constitution:
“Humbly invoking the blessings of Almighty God, the people of the State of Texas, do ordain and establish this Constitution.”
What I’m most upset about is that paying taxes is associated with “In God We Trust.” A more accurate statement would be “In Government We Trust” or “In the State We Trust.” Whenever there’s a problem, the first thing we hear from politicians is that we need more money to feed the beast. It’s an affront to God to associate our debased currency and taxing system with Him. But I digress.
But let me get back to the claim that adding ‘In God We Trust’ is someone unconstitutional. The First Amendment does not prohibit a state agency from adding a religious statement to official documents. The First Amendment prohibits the national government – “Congress shall make no law” – from establishing a religion. Congress is not the state of Texas. The first Amendment was added to the Constitution to protect states on a matter just like this.
Furthermore, official documents today include the phrase “In the Year of Our Lord” which is much more religiously specific than “in God we trust.” The use of “Lord” is a reference to Jesus Christ since, for example, 2014 only has reference in terms of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Our nation’s constitution includes the phrase just above the signature of George Washington:
“Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independance of the United States of America the Twelfth In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names. . .”
George Washington’s 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation also concludes with “in the Year of Our Lord.”
On September 24, 1807, Thomas Jefferson signed a federal passport that allowed the ship Hershel to proceed on its Journey to London. The form included the phrase “in the year of our Lord Christ.” While this was not Jefferson’s addition, it was an official document from the United States government, as Chris Rodda points out:
“These documents, carried by all American ships leaving the United States, were a fill-in-the-blanks form with columns translated into several languages. Each president signed hundreds of these forms, leaving all the other information blank, and then the blank signed forms were sent in bulk to the customs officials at all the ports, where they were filled out as needed for departing ships.”
The Emancipation Proclamation ends with these words: “Done at the City of Washington, this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-seventh.”
With this brief background, I can’t understand how adding ‘In God We Trust’ to an official state document, when it is the motto of the United States (and the state of Florida), and the dating phrase “in the year of our Lord” appears on thousands of official government documents, is a constitutional violation.