‘In God We Trust’ is bad leg­is­la­tion

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - OPINION -

The Chat­tanooga Times May 21 edi­to­rial, “Be­ware of the Church of Govern­ment,” rightly sum­ma­rizes prob­lems as­so­ci­ated with re­cent Ten­nessee leg­is­la­tion al­low­ing driv­ers to add the phrase “In God We Trust” to their li­cense plates.

The edi­to­rial is com­mend­able given that some may mis­tak­enly cat­e­go­rize it to be anti-re­li­gious. Of course, nei­ther the edi­to­rial nor this let­ter should be read as op­pos­ing re­li­gion but rather as ad­vo­cat­ing for pru­dent gov­er­nance.

In con­trast, it is dis­ap­point­ing only one Ten­nessee law­maker of 115 chose to risk vot­ing against such ill-con­ceived leg­is­la­tion. If Ten­nessee driv­ers re­spond in sim­i­lar num­bers, might we ex­pect only a sin­gle-digit per­cent­age will opt out of ap­pend­ing “In God We Trust” to their plates? If so, that sug­gests a trou­bling thought ex­per­i­ment. Imagine notic­ing a ve­hi­cle in which the motto is con­spic­u­ously ab­sent. What in­fer­ences might be made, for bad or for good, about the driver? The only in­fer­ence that wise gov­er­nance should per­mit is the log­i­cal one — “that driver is likely a Ten­nessee res­i­dent.” Any other in­fer­ence is need­lessly di­vi­sive at a time when we all could ben­e­fit from a sense of greater unity and less dis­cord.

Pa­trick F. Lavin Hix­son

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