The off-air comments during commercial breaks can be twice as enlightening as what is said on the air. Last Tuesday, John Murphy and I discussed briefly the motto “In God We Trust. He asked me to write an article on the meaning and ramifications of this motto.
Are we Americans a people that trust in God? The answer to this question will strike to the heart of the political and economic troubles of today. It is the answer to why we are not only losing our morality, but our economic freedom and prosperity. I propose that prior to the turn of the last century our nation evolved into a people that replaced their trust in God to a trust in something else.
Allow a little history. No nation can ever be a Christian nation because not everyone is a Christian. Jesus himself states this when he said there are few that find the way to eternal life. But despite this, the majority of European settlers in America considered themselves Christians, would look to the Bible as a good book, and would reference God as the reason why good and even bad things happened. Their morality didn’t necessarily reflect this at times but it could be stated that America trusted in God.
This started to change in the late 1800’s. Universities became secular, government schools moved the Bible from a main textbook to merely a class and eventually a banned book, archives of letters reveal that there were overall less references to God in everyday life; these and other signs showed that with some give and take, we Americans lost our trust in God.
You can see this transition when you tour the two closest capitol buildings to Eau Claire. The Minnesota capitol in St. Paul was built around 1900 and the artwork and signage throughout shows both Godly and secular bases to the laws that were to emanate from that building. In stark comparison, the Wisconsin capitol in Madison, which was built about fifteen years later, has no artwork that references the role of God in the creation of law.
Finally, in one last effort to keep a nominal trust in God in our minds, the Federal Government decreed in 1956 that “In God We Trust” is our national motto and the next year placed in on all of our currency. But by then it was too late. No doubt there are many who truly trust in God. But our laws, schools, holidays, arts, and numerous other reflections of culture state otherwise.
Prior to this transition, we as a nation would acknowledge God’s existence and when troublesome times would appear, whether war, famine, natural disasters, death, or economic recessions, the people would say that we should call out to God and look to him as the answer to the things we cannot control. People didn’t call on their congressman or president or some bureaucrat in charge of a program, government was merely an institution that punished those who violated another’s life, liberty, or property. People recognized that calling on government to help you in times of trouble would be like us today demanding that the staff at WAYY help us recover from a tornado. It is not WAYY’s job to organize the rebuilding of a destroyed neighborhood; neither was it the government’s job prior to today. The government was to punish looters and false home repairmen stealing money, not set up FEMA camps and pay for the rebuilding of houses.
But today it is the opposite. Name the trouble, and there is an interest group with the backing of thousands of supporters lobbying our governments to do something about it. From cradle to grave, the government is there to provide for your needs. Whether it is health, education, food, work, housing, or retirement, the government tries to be there when we need its help.
We removed God as a nation and replaced him with the next greatest power – government. And unlike God, government often fails – especially when government is doing something God did not design it to do. This is why our failure to trust in God is the answer to most of the problems in this country.
How did Americans look to a being that cannot be seen, felt, or heard? They were familiar with his word and promises found in the Bible. They acknowledged that if people obeyed his commandments concerning treating your neighbor justly and charitably when needed, that recovery from troubles would come. The recovery didn’t always happen smoothly, but neither do today’s government-run recoveries.
Statistically, about 10% of Americans are skeptical towards the existence of God. I think that the majority of the remaining 90% live as if he doesn’t exist. God’s commandments are not acknowledged and his power is not trusted. Our basis for what is right and wrong is if it is legal. And our primary source of help is a government program. Is this true of yourself? Just calling yourself a Christian doesn’t make you one. If you are anything like an average American, I would suggest that you are not a Christian. A Christian is one who has turned from his sin and is relying by faith alone on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The result of this is a life that strives to obey God’s commandments. He is a person whose motto indeed is “In God I Trust”.