The Instigator
JBlake
Pro (for)
Winning
46 Points
The Contender
theCall
Con (against)
Losing
13 Points

The national motto of the United States should be changed.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 11 votes the winner is...
JBlake
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/29/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,352 times Debate No: 9076
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (43)
Votes (11)

 

JBlake

Pro

2 Round Debate
72 Hour Rounds
8,000 Character Limit
2 Week Voting Period

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Resolved, That the motto of the U.S. should be changed.

I propose that the motto of the United States of America be changed from "In God We Trust" back to the original "E Pluribus Unum" (Latin for "One from many").

I will present the case for changing the motto on constitutional as well as on logical grounds. My proposed alternative need not be accepted for me to win this debate.

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Separation of Church and State
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The national motto of the U.S. in its current form reads "In God We Trust". This is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which reads:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..."
(http://www.usconstitution.net...)

This clause has been interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court by the majority opinion in Everson v. Board of Education (330 U.S. 1, 1947) (given by Justice Hugo Black) to mean, among other things:
"...Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion..."
(Source: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com... Paragraph 16. This portion of Justice Black's ruling can also be found: http://en.wikipedia.org...)

"In God We Trust" clearly violates the Establishment Clause on two counts, as interpreted by Justice Black:
1. The reference to God (the Christian deity) gives preference to theism over non-theism in general and Christianity over non-Christianity in particular.
2. The mere fact that the U.S. national motto is "In God We Trust" can be seen as an attempt by the federal government to influence an individual or to force an individual to profess a belief in theism in general and/or Christianity in particular.

Both of these violate the Establishment Clause as the U.S. Government currently understands it.

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E Pluribus Unum
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The Latin phrase, meaning "one from many", better reflects U.S. history and our current form of government. In short, it makes more sense logically. Below I will explain why.

The separation of church and state was a founding principle, and a principle which has been (more or less) heeded since that time. The national motto should reflect our principles. Since "In God We Trust" is counter to the principle of church-state separation, it stands to reason that this phrase should be removed.

"E Pluribus Unum" is a reflection of our nation's founding and our form of government (Federation). The American Revolution was fought by 13 sovereign states which combined into one central government in 1787 via the ratification of the U.S. Constitution to form the United States. One entity was formed from several individual units. Today we can still see one entity (the U.S.) made up of 50 constituent parts (states). One from many.

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Conclusion
=======

Because the current national motto of the United States of America violates the U.S. Constitution; and
because there are mottoes that better reflect our history and values:
the resolution, that the motto of the U.S. should be changed, is affirmed.
theCall

Con

First of all, thank to my opponent who had brought up this interesting topic.

First of all, we should take a good look at our definition of the word "God"

1capitalized : the supreme or ultimate reality: as a: the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe bChristian Science : the incorporeal divine Principle ruling over all as eternal Spirit : infinite Mind
2: a being or object believed to have more than natural attributes and powers and to require human worship ; specifically : one controlling a particular aspect or part of reality
3: a person or thing of supreme value4: a powerful ruler.

So God is a supreme power that control over our universe, an infinite source or power, a divine or even just a powerful ruler.

Let's just talk in a respectful manner, which part of the word "God" in "In God we trust" are one of these? In the history of the world, not just Christianity but there are also lots of religions that worship God, or at lease believe there's a God, so we don't have an actual religion to say that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establisment of religion...", so therefore, you can't really identify that God is a Jewish God Yaweh, Christian God Jesus or Muslim God Allah.

Furthermore, as we know a religion is a belief, a belief and in a scientific manner we can call that a theory, a theory that God is real, that He's a divine and supreme power or at least like the Creationist scientists believe, a force that created the Universe in a neat and organized way. But unfortunately our country is also putting a belief forcefully into our student belief and theory by teaching Evolution in our Public school system, although both Intelligent design and Evolution are both scientific theories. So can we say that US is establishing a law that violating other people's belief?

E Pluribus Unum is actually base on history is a word that quotation from a gentlemen magazine quoted from a French artist that design our dollar bill, yes it still has a super and special meaning, E Pluribus Unum yes is a reflection of our country our principles, we want other countries to know that: "Wow, this is a God chosen country!" our of many, only one, E Pluribus Unum. If there's no God, there's no Thanksgiving, no God no Christmas, no God no Easter, God and church has been a source of morality, truth and righteous as we always know: "One nation under God"

Therefore I extremely suggest that we need to let the motto "In God we trust attach on the money and become a great motto for the United States for years and years to come. Thank you.
Debate Round No. 1
JBlake

Pro

I would like to open by thanking The Call for accepting this debate. Good luck in your final round.

--------

I would also like to introduce a new definition:

Motto:
1. a short saying expressing the guiding maxim or ideal of a family or organization, esp. when part of a coat of arms
2. a verse or maxim contained in a paper cracker
3. a quotation prefacing a book or chapter of a book [Italian]
(Source: http://www.thefreedictionary.com...)

For the purposes of the remainder of the debate, definition 1 seems the most appropriate since the national motto is not a verse in a paper cracker, nor is it a quotation prefacing a book or a chapter.

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Definition of God
======

My opponents case is doomed from the very first words of his argument. He attempts to take the religion out of the phrase "In God We Trust". He posts (without citation) the Merriam-Webster definition of 'god', which incidentally also includes the definition of 'God'. (http://www.merriam-webster.com...)

The problem with Con's argument comes from his choice of definition. He attempts to use one of the definitions for small g 'god', when the national motto is using capital g 'God'. Glancing back at the definition provided by Con, the capitalized version refers only to a deity (see definition 1a and 1b). By using the proper definition (1a and/or 1b) we see that the national motto is referring to monotheistic religion. I will discuss this in the second section below.

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Christianity - Judaism - Islam
======

Con claims that it is not the Christian god in particular that is referenced in the national motto. A quick recounting of the names of the gods of the three monotheistic religions will reveal that the motto could only have one of these in mind. Below are the names of the deity commonly used for each:
Judaism - Yahweh
Islam - Allah
Christianity - God

From this we can eliminate the idea that the motto referring to all religions. Even if it is referencing religion in general, it is still a preference for theism over non-theism by nationally recognizing a "Being perfect in power..."

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Theism in General
======

My opponents final relevant point (I am excluding the evolution/ID issue due to its irrelevance in this debate) is that the motto does not specify Christianity in particular, therefore it does no violate the Establishment clause. Although I have shown this to be wrong in the section above, I will still show how favoring theism over non-theism is still a violation.

-----

As we have seen by the definition of capital g 'God', the motto is referring to a monotheistic religion (or, theism in general). We have also seen, in my first round argument, that the Establishment Clause prohibits the federal government from forcing an individual "to profess belief or disbelief in any religion." Finally, we have seen from the definition of motto provided above, that a motto is "a short saying expressing the guiding maxim or ideal of a family or organization."

In our representative form of government, anything passed by the government is a representation of the populace. So when the federal government officially professes a belief in religion (as they did in making our national motto 'In God We Trust'), the entire population of legal U.S. citizens is professing a belief in religion. Unfortunately, the Establishment Clause strictly prohibits the federal government from forcing anyone to profess a belief in religion.

Therefore, in forcing the entire U.S. population to profess a belief in religion, the federal government was violating the First Amendment. As such, the national motto should be changed because it is a violation of the U.S. Constitution. The resolution is affirmed.
theCall

Con

First of all, bravo for my new opponent new argument, let's us continue shall we?

Yes, and maybe I was wrong about using the wrong definition for the word God, but let's us look at our next argument of my lovely opponent:
"Con claims that it is not the Christian god in particular that is referenced in the national motto. A quick recounting of the names of the gods of the three monotheistic religions will reveal that the motto could only have one of these in mind. Below are the names of the deity commonly used for each:
Judaism - Yahweh
Islam - Allah
Christianity - God

From this we can eliminate the idea that the motto referring to all religions. Even if it is referencing religion in general, it is still a preference for theism over non-theism by nationally recognizing a "Being perfect in power..."

Of course I agree these are the real name for Judaism, Islam and Christianity, but these are the NAMES of their GODS, Jews believe God's name is Yahweh, Christians believe their God's name is Jesus, and Muslims believe their God's name is Allah, but then we can clearly see the match, they're all what we call God, if even now you debate or talk with a Jew, Muslim or Christian who speak English, or you study about religions in High School, Muslims, Jews and Christians, they still call the one they worship is God.

"As we have seen by the definition of capital g 'God', the motto is referring to a monotheistic religion (or, theism in general). We have also seen, in my first round argument, that the Establishment Clause prohibits the federal government from forcing an individual "to profess belief or disbelief in any religion." Finally, we have seen from the definition of motto provided above, that a motto is "a short saying expressing the guiding maxim or ideal of a family or organization." Yes, true, but not just Christianity but like I said above, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, all of those religions above all worship one divine power name God, so now all 3 of those religions are monotheistic religions, I don't think which one of them this country specify at.

"In our representative form of government, anything passed by the government is a representation of the populace. So when the federal government officially professes a belief in religion (as they did in making our national motto 'In God We Trust'), the entire population of legal U.S. citizens is professing a belief in religion. Unfortunately, the Establishment Clause strictly prohibits the federal government from forcing anyone to profess a belief in religion." Then if so why don't they just abolish every religions that against Christianity if they're all Christians? That's because they still love the laws and still need to follow the laws, that's why.

Conclusion: Overall, what was this government did was just saying In God we trust, although the term God can be used for Islam, Judaism or Christianity. But what's this country trying to prove? the United States of America is trying to tell us that In God we trust, that's why our country is One from many, this is one nation, under God. USA is the best.
Debate Round No. 2
43 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by I-am-a-panda 7 years ago
I-am-a-panda
If I could VOTE, con loses 7 points for saying USA is best.

Fix'd
Posted by I-am-a-panda 7 years ago
I-am-a-panda
If I could debate, con loses 7 points for saying USA is best.
Posted by JBlake 7 years ago
JBlake
Roy:

The reason I didn't respond was not because the argument is invalid. I did not respond because I assumed you were not interested enough in the topic to discuss what that writer had to say (because you copy-pasted, and that is not generally what you do). I apologize if it seemed that I was ignoring the argument.

As for this debate I agree completely. I was hoping to have a debate on constitutionality which included the courts' views (which I hold to be flawed, and wished to have the chance to refute them). It certainly isn't that I did not research the issue (I had found the same website in my reading, I just disagree with its conclusion).
Posted by RoyLatham 7 years ago
RoyLatham
JBlake, If they are not Supreme Court cases, then the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeals, so they reflect the Court's position on the matter. I agree that the Court can reconsider at any time and make a new decision, but that would also be true if they had made a decision. The Supremes generally don't want to take on Congress directly, so I doubt they will do so.

Your notion that copy-and-paste invalidates an argument is absolutely absurd. In a debate, there is no category for originality. If someone has already made the case succinctly, there is nothing to be gained by paraphrasing what was said. When it's pasted into the debate, the person who pasted it then owns the argument and must defend it. The idea that it doesn't count because it was pasted is ridiculous. In my comment, I was just providing data relevant to the debate topic. Clearly neither you nor your opponent adequately researched the topic. It took about 30 seconds to find the case law. My point was that the debate should have included arguments about whether the Courts were correct in saying that everybody understands that "In God We Trust" is just traditional and not an endorsement. Neither side addressed that.

I'm inclined to think that the motto should be changed. It is basically an artifact of the Civil War and the country has changed from then. Congress ought to do it.
Posted by JBlake 7 years ago
JBlake
Roy: Those are not U.S. Supreme Court Cases. So no, the 'Supremes' have not ruled on the constitutionality of the motto. I would respond to the paragraph, but it is just a copy-paste...
Posted by Rhino 7 years ago
Rhino
In a capatalist society i can't see how the motto should be one for many there must be a better motto that can be used.
Posted by RoyLatham 7 years ago
RoyLatham
The Supremes have ruled on the Constitutionality of "In God We Trust":

The federal courts have held that the motto symbolizes the historical role of religion in our society, Lynch, 465 U.S. at 676, formalizes our medium of exchange, see O'Hair v. Blumenthal, 462 F. Supp. 19, 20 (W.D. Tex.), aff'd sub nom. O'Hair v. Murray, 588 F.2d 1144 (5th Cir. 1978) (per curiam), and cert. denied, 442 U.S.930 (1979), fosters patriotism, see Aronow v. United States, 432 F.2d 242, 243 (9th Cir. 1970), and expresses confidence in the future, Lynch, 465 U.S. at 692-93 (O'Connor, J., concurring). The motto's primary effect is not to advance religion; instead, it is a form of "ceremonial deism" which through historical usage and ubiquity cannot be reasonably understood to convey government approval of religious belief. Allegheny, 492 U.S. at 625 (O'Connor, J., concurring); Lynch, 465 U.S. at 693 (O'Connor, J., concurring); id. at 716 (Brennan, J., dissenting). Finally, the motto does not create an intimate relationship of the type that suggests unconstitutional entanglement of church and state. O'Hair, 462 F. Supp. at 20. "After making [inquiries], we find that a reasonable observer, aware of the purpose, context, and history of the phrase "In God we trust," would not consider its use or its reproduction on U.S. currency to be an endorsement of religion. (Gaylor vs USA, 10th Cir. 1996) http://www.usscouts.org... (the Boy Scouts website)

In other words, the Court believes everyone understands it is just a tradition. I prefer E Pluribus Unum, because everything sounds more official in Latin.
Posted by JBlake 7 years ago
JBlake
Kroeger, that link says nothing of Atheists believing in ID...
Posted by JBlake 7 years ago
JBlake
Shingure,
Thank you for your comment. The point isn't entirely to avoid offending people, although that is certainly one consideration. The biggest problem I have with the motto is how it poorly reflects our society. We have always held a secular government to be of high importance. The national motto directly contradicts this sentiment. It can easily be misinterpreted by foreign nations and organizations as an acknowledgment of the Christian God. This would be highly unfortunate.
Posted by KeithKroeger91 7 years ago
KeithKroeger91
Jblake I cannot explain it to you because to me it doesn't make sense you should ask an advocate. Here is some writing.
www.mindpowernews.com/consciousuniverse.htm
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