By Andrew L. Seidel
How did “In God We Trust” get stamped on the currency of a country with a godless Constitution? How did a secular nation get a religious national motto?
The story is not one of national unity, but of exploitation. It does not begin, as so many claim, with the American founding, but rather four score and seven years later, in 1863. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1 of that year, conscriptions followed, as did some of the war’s bloodiest battles, including Chickamauga and Gettysburg. Brothers were killing brothers—more than 2 percent of the population, or about eight million Americans today, would die. Families and the country were being torn apart.
Three men recognized this time of “national peril and danger” as an opportunity. These men, forerunners to today’s Christian nationalists, took advantage of a wounded, distracted nation to use their government power to impose their personal religion on us all. To them, the timing was lucky: People were too busy dying for the Constitution to protect it from a rear-guard, religious assault.
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