The tax subsidy for clergy, one of the echoes of McCarthyism, may finally be being put to rest. A couple of the others that survived to this day are “In God We Trust”, which was not our country’s motto until 1956, and “under God”, which was added to the pledge of allegiance in 1954.
These two still stand as a reminder that the embarrassing period of McCarthyism with its fight against the “godless communists”, and persecution of many innocent people in the entertainment industry in particular, is not over yet. However, ending the tax subsidy for clergy, that was implemented at the same time, also in obvious violation of the establishment clause of the first amendment, is a powerful step in the right direction.
The inclusive E. Pluribus Unum, “out of many, one”, had been our unofficial motto from 1782 – 1956. It was replaced by the divisive and sectarian “In God We Trust” at the height of McCarthyism. Similarly, during the same time period, “under God” was added to the pledge of allegiance. The founders of this country would be horrified to see such obvious godvertisements being issued by the federal government.
We should be proud of the heritage of our country, the first ever constitutionally secular country in the world.
Those who are horrified by the removal of god(s) from our our federal tax code, and hopefully soon from our pledge and motto as well, would be wise to remember to whom Jefferson wrote the “wall of separation letter” and why. The letter is officially known by the Library of Congress as “Jefferson’s Letter to the Danbury Baptists”.
Then president Thomas Jefferson, author of the first amendment, explained that the first amendment set up a “wall of separation between Church & State”. Importantly, this was intended to reassure the Baptists of Connecticut of protection from other Christians!!!
Christians needed protection from Christians to be able to worship in their own way.
If you are a Christian and you care whether you are Catholic or Episcopal or Mormon or Baptist or Jehovah’s Witness or Christian Scientist or Lutheran or Amish or whatever other subsect I may have missed, you should strongly support the wall of separation between Church & State. Making no judgements here, if you care whether or not you drink the blood of Christ and eat His flesh or not, if you care whether or not you engage in the worship of statuary (graven images?) in many churches or not, if you care whether or not you use the cross as a symbol of your faith (Mormons believe it to be the murder weapon of Christ and do not use it.), if you care whether your faith allows you to use modern medicine, if you care whether your faith allows you to go to war, if you care whether your faith allows you to drive a car, you must support the strongest possible separation of Church & State lest you be in the minority and be forced to worship in ways that go against your beliefs.
Please join with me in celebrating this small step towards a return to a more secular and inclusive government.