The #headdesk Files: Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Silly Lawsuit

The Freedom from Religion Foundation is back on my radar, again, this time for launching another lawsuit against the government’s cozy relationship with religion. I think the general idea is sound, and I support it–there needs to be a stronger sense of laïcité in America, and there is still a too close relationship between church and state.

But some lawsuits are just dumb. Like this one:

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, along with 19 other plaintiffs, is suing the U.S. Treasury for stamping “In God We Trust” on currency. Honorary FFRF board member Mike Newdow is acting as legal counsel in the suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Feb. 1.

The complaint alleges that the religious verbiage is proselytizing, discriminatory and a per se establishment of monotheism in violation of the Establishment Clause.

The complaint, a tour de force of historical research, unequivocally shows that there was a purely religious purpose and intent behind putting God on our coinage. Newdow quotes representatives who voted for the addition as seeking to use the money to proselytize around the world. Rep. Herman P. Eberharter (PA) said: “[T]he American dollar travels all over the world, into every country of the world, and frequently gets behind the Iron Curtain, and if it carries this message in that way I think it would be very good. I think that is one of the most compelling reasons why we should put it on our currency. … the principles laid down by God and the teachings of our way of life should be kept alive in the hearts and minds of our friends enslaved behind the Iron Curtain.”

Plaintiffs are forced to proselytize — by an Act of Congress — for a deity they don’t believe in whenever they handle money.

Really, now? Let’s break this down.

First, the “per se establishment of monotheism in violation of the Establishment Clause.” Well, what does the Establishment Clause actually say?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. . . .

Okay then, what religion is the text “In God We Trust” establishing? Judaism? Islam? Pantheism? Rastafarianism? Christianity? Oh, well then what sort of Christianity? Catholicism? Baptism? Lutheranism? Methodism? Mormonism? Seven-Day Adventism? Ad nausea.

Monotheism, as the Foundation is focusing on, is not a religion in and of itself. It just isn’t. What monotheism is is more of a vague belief, a “philosophical position,” as I would say, on deities. There is no doctrine of monotheism, no specific church, no dogma, no holy text. There are many different montheistic religions, just putting “God” on a piece of paper doesn’t make it one.

And then there comes the question of “What God are we talking about?” I’m sure the Representative they quoted is some form of Christian, and was referring to the Christian god. But is that the god everyone is talking about? I don’t know. If you were to line up 100 different people and ask them what they thought god was, you would get 100 different answers. The fact remains that the word “god” is meaningless, so malleable it has no form and can be twisted to mean anything. No other word in the English language in the modern age has quite the same level of malleability.

Let’s get to the second part of their complaint, that it is “discriminatory.” I genuinely sympathize with this, but let’s be honest, how is it really discriminating against anyone who isn’t a believer? Are we losing our jobs? Our property? Our lives? Uh, no, we’re just exchanging money and getting some food.

And then there’s the third point: that we’re “proselytizing” against our will. This is just so ungodly stupid (if I may be granted a pun pass.) Does anyone really take a look at the dollar bill and go “Wow! There’s god on here! Using this money means I trust in god! Maybe I should go home and rethink my life and become a monk!” Seriously? Do people pay attention to that line of text at all? Most don’t even notice it, and I would suspect a vast number of Americans don’t even know it’s there. So congrats, FFRF guys, you just drew everybody’s attention to that.

And then there’s the one thing that blows this out of the water: most of our transactions aren’t cash-based. The vast majority of things we buy we buy with credit cards and online. In fact, cash accounts for only 29% of all transactions in the United States. That means in 71% of all transactions, nobody sees “In God We Trust” because they’re not using anything that has “In God We Trust” on it. Heck, they’re not using anythng that could even have anything on it because it’s intangible! (And in Sweden, cash transactions are down to 3% of their transactions. That’s it. Just 3%. That’s probably where we’re headed.)

There are things we should be focusing on in the struggle between religion and superstition and nonbelief and reason. This is not one of them. We should be going after creationism in the schools, kids being forced to pray against their will, people who are harassed or even murdered for not being believers (it has happened), and the insistence of our political leaders of bringing religious claptrap into every political decision and public policy argument. But to raise a stink about “In God We Trust” being printed on our currency? To me, that seems an epic waste of time, energy, and resources that could be devoted to other things. Nobody pays attention to it and nobody cares. People will look at this thing and go, “Really? You’re upset over that, of all things? That’s pathetic.” And where does that leave everyone who doesn’t believe? Right back where we started.

Pick your battles, guys. And sure as hell don’t pick stupid ones.

  • it is quite nice to let go of this societies burden-if but for a moment, to another who says it right. u belong in the old days of greece, where one could rise up thru merit and intellect. So many laws to learn in the U.S that i will never do more than passive investing or buying. never build up an empire there due to lawsuit issues. also it seems ur senate/congress exists to create laws for the sake of law creation. “Thou shall not kill”is a good one, to the extreme end it encompasses ALL issues. If a pesticide destroys more than the intended insect target (bad enough) then one is breaking the one law. problem is i absolutley endure corporal punishment as a good way to relieve much stress. ie- Rape a Granny/little kid & death 2morrow. Since when did we have time (or prison space) for soft behavior towards the worst of us? No. Destroy the destroyers and aid those”who wish to aid the “Empire.

    i am not at athiest but i understand the view and forgive my brothers for lacking faith. “…I find Your lack of Faith, Disturbing” hhhhokurrr -SQUEEZE 😛

    Under a single banner, those who cared rallied,zealous yet afraid of what may become. The Emperor admired them all, unafaid he was the head of a powerful new army. One based on truth on sacrifice. I feel we would both give up great mounts of wealth for the betterment of all atoms in the local area 😛 be well

  • paying for weed with a credit card will be great! 😛 ahhh thats better 😉

    Besides, counterfit $ is bad and hurts the whole world at once.

    While i do feel the underworld is the last bastion against inept/corrupt/abusive governtment i do not aprove of many things that come with a gang culture.

    Xtians are sheep now armed to the teeth, opinionated and HYPERcritical

    muslims treat women as nothing. hello they have pussies. that alone deserves praise be allah 😛

    jews…i cant be nice about this group so i will not say much…except this: anyone who spits and yells at little kids just bcz their parents choose not to follow a specific belief system desreves a beating *head shake*

    “burn them” i would order but get this: these same ultra orthodox idiots go against zionist jews. israel is not the true home of the jew, Eden is. when we figure out where that is then jews have no home to demand. turned their back on god and then we hear millenia of whinning.

    Also, if no other ppl were around when adam and steve i mean eve, (steve and adam broke up by the time she showed up) created kids, and god put forth NO OTHER ppl; then ALL of us are jews by default. After the flood the jews on the ark (some black/brown/white/olive skinned/red skinned/and asian of course) procreated and suddenly mesopotamia/indus valley/and yangztse river area are full of ppl-despite the belief we get ever more degraded every gen?

    all makebelief naturally.

    god is real and likely unknowable.

    maybe ppl are made of dracos and arcturan dna, but the planet i know is not fleshly made. i dont mean angels and hammers but its design is too amazing and rare to be not divine. my proof? here:

    Electricity is in the air and the ground,even within us, invisible but its effects are well known. now when this energy is maxed we see lightning storms, or get a stroke 🙂 or zap some damn Jedi.

    ok so what? here:
    if all that is known and as yet unknown seems to be made up of either atoms or anti-atoms (in various concentrations) and its ALL interacting; from h2O moles to galactic friction all so dynamic. all cross influential. all intertwined, sharing a similar beginning. Well u and i are much more alike than say me and jupiter, ur atoms are nearly identical in amount and proportion ratios to mine. We live near each other, unlike saturn. yet us and the planets are basically the same stuff. as is the air between u and i.
    So same atoms, proximity, similar stimulii yet despite agreed to philosophies we are vastly diffent. perhaps u hav a disease i dont or my mind is softer than urs for example. What do i and a wooden chair have in common? everything. yet SOMETHING draws a line somewhere and i am a person sitting on a chair yet me,the wood and the air are not seperated by much distance nor do we have different ingredients. i breath in some dust (which came from a plant) and now it is part of me. more carbon here less nitrogen there some change in electrical frequencies an viola! no change at all 🙁

    So,u and i are the same basicaly,yet differnt for sure as is the rest of the universe( ANY multi verse is part of the overall existence phase) why can my eye see a chair as does urs? remember we are only atoms and energies so why do 2 groups of molecules percieve a chair rather than be one giant ocean of interacting atoms flowing as one being? ahh now u found God. the 1st one. the one ppl think wrote the books & such. such gods are after the real god. ppl all know what we mean when we say divne inspiration or protection. some add rules and garments to the 1st reality some beat women to follow their add ons.

    In the end God is provable not bcz we exist but rather because we percieve this reality. an elephant sees or hears you. it is made of atoms, some situate near what we call eyes yet why the eye at all? what forces the dna to become? who sorted out the math quiz before it became? no not jehove or Zeus but the 1st god. proof? haha ok 🙂

    how can a benvolent being be cruel? because cruelty is an opinion.

    why would god create a ppl only to flood them? a story a lie told by men in power hungry sate.

    women and men are diff yet the same, why? because all living creatures are the same yet different. if there was no god there would be no order to this universal chaos. yet science proves daily that the uni is predictable ever more. i think god (the real unknowable one) put forth a short sentence that manifested into what we call reality. atoms and energy. more proof.? is it luck when a car just misses u? or was that dropped hamburger 3 days ago the butterfly effect allowing that crucial 3 seconds causing ur safety? i dont know if “GOD” designed every event in the uni- i doubt it, but i do see that when i honor it and thank it for all its wow factor i recieve morepower more energy more understanding then when i just shrug and say luck.
    Planets, voids,ants, electricity and even we monkeys are all powerful. This power is due to the might of real god. not some dude in a chair or cloud but that which exists within all matter. this Gen calls it Qi or the Force. Germans proved Qi is real a while ago. The Force is still debatable…

    i read once this: “To those who doubt the existence of other life out there, which is less believable…that there is life out there or that a planet bore an ape who became so smart and able that it went out in spaceships to visit other planets? “i butcherd it a bit but u get the idea 🙂

    im done, need to Force lightning something now. no jedi tho, not today anyhow…