On Tuesday, Ben Carson sent a message out to his supporters (or at least the addresses on his email list), and then launched a subsequent cheesy campaign, referencing a lawsuit in Ohio challenging the appearance of the current national motto, In God We Trust, on our nation’s currency. He labeled the plaintiffs as “a group of liberal, atheist progressives,” seemingly using those words as something derogatory, whereas most who fit that category would wear it as a badge of honor, especially in terms of distancing themselves from Ben Carson, their polar opposite. Carson goes on to say that he and his constituents “must stamp out these blatant attempts to trample on our Constitution and whitewash our history.” Apparently legal challenges are unconstitutional in Ben Carson’s eyes, and a motto we’ve had for only 60 years somehow has significant historical value.
Next, Carson claims, “All the way back to our founding, trust in God has been a bedrock principle of our great nation.” Oh boy. While it may be true that many of our Founding Fathers believed in a deity, it’s very much a stretch to claim such a belief is what our nation was founded on. But as we are well aware, heroes of the Religious Right like Ben Carson will stop at nothing to present their revisionist history and lead the ignorant to believe that we live in a Christian nation. The fact of the matter is the US was founded as a secular nation with the freedom for all its citizens to worship as they so choose, or not at all. This is evident in the fact that there are no mentions of a state religion, or even God, in the Constitution — quite the opposite, actually. The Founders were very purposeful in entering into the law of the land that no religious test will be required to hold office. That should tell us all just how far down the list of priorities religiosity was in their eyes when it came to requirements for effective leadership.
For Ben Carson to claim that a motto adopted in 1956 is as American as the Constitution itself is asinine, but outlandish claims are pretty much his whole wheelhouse. Our apparently god-loving Founding Fathers weren’t the religious zealots Carson is, because if they were, they wouldn’t have adopted an entirely secular national motto back in 1782, E pluribus unum, translated as “out of many, one,” a phrase that unites us as a people, rather than divides us based on religious belief. One could easily make the argument that a national motto invoking the belief in a deity is un-American and unconstitutional.
But Ben Carson marches on, in lock-step with the others who share his version of anti-history, and will more than likely go the way of those who came before him, into obscurity and irrelevance, with Huckabee, Buchanan, Gingrich and Santorum, just to name a few. Thank God (if you’re into that).