NAP statement on “Under God” and “In God We Trust” petition from the “We the People” campaign

WE the People

Recently, the White House has instituted a campaign called the “We the People: Your Voice in Our Government” program whereby internet users can develop a petition, and if that online petition receives some 5,000 signatures in a month, President Obama has promised an official response. This has been a very successful outreach program, and we’ve all seen some dozens of these petitions circulated on Facebook and other social networking sites.

One such petition is a petition calling for the reversal of the landmark 1950s Congressional decisions to print “In God We Trust” on all paper currency and coinage and add the phrase “Under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance. Many of our members signed this petition, and we waited anxiously for the official response. We have now received that response, and it is a disappointing one.

In the official response, issued by Joshua DuBois of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the President is noted for supporting all faiths, including non-faith, and goes on to say that it is the President’s opinion that these ubiquitous “phrases represent the important role religion plays in American public life, while we continue to recognize and protect the rights of secular Americans.” What this statement doesn’t say is that the perpetuation of these phrases absolutely tramples the “rights of secular Americans.”

It is not clear from the official response, it must be noted, whether or not President Obama actually read the petition or was even aware of it. The only quoted material from the President dates from his tenure as a Senator. All of the rest of the response was apparently drafted by Mr. DuBois or his staff.

Regardless, it is the National Atheist Party’s position that these phrases are inherently discriminatory, due to their ubiquity and specificity, to all persons not of the Christian faith – some 60 million Americans. Any government property that must be used by ALL citizens must be free from the promotion of a single faith or religion. This is guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, and has been blatantly abridged for sixty years. All of us must, at some time or another, handle pecuniary instruments, and because of that universality, the phrase “In God We Trust” is especially offensive because it is forced into the hands and businesses of all Americans regardless of or in spite of their individual beliefs – including non-faith.

The same can be said for the Pledge of Allegiance. Children from all walks of life and all cultural and religious backgrounds attend America’s public schools. To be forced to recite, or even to be forced to refrain from reciting on principle, the Pledge of Allegiance, due to the promotion of the Christian God contained within it, is an example of the most heinous kind of repetitious proselytizing and government sponsorship of a single religion. Children are not the only victims of this not-so-subtle brainwashing technique, but are perhaps its most innocent victims.

Neither of these phrases are an example of the “important role religion plays in American public life,” as claimed by the official response; both are, instead, an example of the ongoing discrimination against non-Christian U.S. citizens. The National Atheist Party condemns this “official” response as divisive, perfunctory, and unconstitutional. We also call for a review by the Supreme Court of the United States to reverse its own approval of this transparent religious bigotry. The National Atheist Party is committed to the ideal of a future when all Americans are free to practice the religion of their choice, including none at all, and no single religion is promoted or supported by government.