In Good We Trust April 13, 2010

In Good We Trust

Moscow, Idaho gets all the fun humanist billboards.

But this one may be my favorite:

“This billboard nicely sums up two of the main messages of the American Humanist Association,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the AHA. “First, that you don’t have to believe in God to be good — in fact, humanists and other nontheists see being good as one of the most important of responsibilities in our one and only life. Second, that church and state should remain separate for the benefit of us all.” Speckhardt argued that “In Good We Trust” is a more inclusive and appropriate sentiment than the “In God We Trust” motto, which runs afoul the First Amendment.

David Niose, president of the American Humanist Association, pointed out that the official national motto had an unsavory beginning. “The adoption of the ‘In God We Trust’ motto came at the height of the Cold War and McCarthyism in the 1950s, and it is unfortunate that we still cling to such religious rhetoric today. E pluribus unum, the Latin phrase for ‘out of many, one,’ would be a much more appropriate motto. It reflects the true character of American society and government.”

According to the AHA’s press release, the billboard can be seen on Highway 95, “just south of Moscow near the Sweet Avenue cross street, facing northbound traffic.”

The billboard is a wonderfully simple concept. It’s an idea anyone can get behind… unless you’re deluded enough to think that we can only be good if we believe in a god (a proposition that is so easily disprovable).

Ironically, it’s probably someone from that group who will inevitably vandalize this billboard. I hope it doesn’t happen, but for some reason, the “moral, God-fearing” people are the same ones who can’t seem to stand any challenge to their beliefs.

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  • Matt Johnson

    That’s brilliantly clever.

    Surely there’s no way they can be upset with that? Unless they see ‘In God we trust’ as some sort of registered trademark?

  • DGKnipfer

    I have no doubt that they’ll find some imagined insult to freak out over.

  • Valhar2000

    Oh, they can be upset by that, and by pretty much anything else, if they even sense that their privilege is being challenged in any way.

    What I think will end up happening, though, is that most of the vandals will look at it in passing, assume that it says “God” rather than “Good”, and move along. It will be when someone looks at it more closely that they will be confused by the switch in words, and only when they notice the word “humanist” will the sign suddenly become offensive, bigoted and discriminatory.

    Thus, I predict that this billboard will be vandalized eventually, but it will last longer than others.

  • Lifer

    Looking forward to the endless squabbles over how “good” is just a human value we apply to whatever suits us and that without god we wouldn’t even be aware of the concept.

    Agree with Valhar2000 but I’d add that aside from misreading it, theists also equate ‘good’ with ‘god’ and they might not even realize that this is a secular sign. It might even reinforce the ‘god is good’ meme.

  • taylie

    I love the billboard and firmly believe that one day, the majority of people in this country will vote to change the “In God we trust” motto, realizing that our country was founded by the separation of church and state.

    There is one thing I would like to comment negatively on. The last statement, about god-fearing people not accepting a challenge to their beliefs, a sentiment echoed in the comments thus far, make me sad, because it, to me, is just as close-minded as hide-bound conservatives. Every group, us atheists included, have a segment of our population that, due to their own issues I assume, lash out at others that can’t see “reason”. I see vandalized Christian billboards all the time, with some witty comment about the faulty thinking of theists.
    Engaging in these petty character swipes at the “other side” demeans atheists in general, and definitely doesn’t open up a constructive dialog that inspire theists to stop and think about the nature of their beliefs…. and how if you believe in God you are a stupid-head.

  • alex

    If this billboard gets vandalized, say, by blotting out one of the “o”s in “good”, it would be highly ironic. Of course, most of the god-bots won’t get it, and will just cheer how their “god” soars above any “good”.

  • bigjohn756

    I called the Denver mint to get one of these quarters, but, they said that they were all out.

  • GentleGiant

    I find it highly amusing that the rewriting of the McCarthyism-era phrase is being shown at a town named Moscow… How appropriately funny. 🙂

  • inmyhead9

    I love it. GentleGiant, I found it funny too. ;D

    When people ask me what my faith is, I always respond by saying ” I believe in good”.

  • drred.

    Wow, this must be the first atheist billboard I like.

    Good job.

  • FloridaAtheist

    Speaking of billboards being vandalized, the one in St. Augustine, Florida may have been vandalized.

  • muggle

    Ooh, I like this one!

    inmyhead9, mind if I borrow that line? I can’t believe I never thought of it. I usually say people and further explain that it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that doing good makes the world a better place and doing bad makes it a worse place. This is much shorter and succinct.

    Don’t know if they’ll get it any better (I’m betting the same amount would and wouldn’t) but it’ll save me some breath in my old age.

  • Luther

    How about one with a nickel? With Jefferson!

  • Ryan

    As an Atheist coin collector I’ve come to accept the phrase “In God We Trust” on our money as a part of our history and I can understand the US mint first started doing this in 1864 with the 2 cent piece because Science wasn’t at what it is at today. I think it would be nice to finally see that motto disappear completely from our currency, however I don’t think Americans (The Christian ones) are ready for that.
    When the new Presidential Dollar coins were released they had “In God We Trust” on the rim and Christians got pissed. Some even boycotted the coin, which is pointless because the coins are rarely found in circulation as it is.

  • I hope this one doesn’t get vandalized, but I can see a trend forming here. Someone who believes in God and is offended by this, will justify to themselves that it’s ok to deface something that threatens their belief system.

    For now, I wish to enjoy it as it is.

  • Leslie, Proud Catholic and American

    America was founded on a protestant belief system despite the seperation of church and state (which accured after our nation was officially founded..)During the 1950s it was important for the government to ensure that no one person was worshiped by the people or became to strong of an infleunce; ie communism. That is the reason why our currency has “in God we trust”.. The word God is not specified as to which God it is as to include all religions..why should we change something that is an American symbol just because a group of non believers is not happy with it? ” In God we trust” instills hope in many people and gives a soul to America and I’m sorry if you don’t believe in a. god but I am proud to be part of a nation that still charishes those beliefs. I was under the impression you were up for a “friendly debate”.. apparently not seeing that you did not approve my last comment, you are far to intellectually superior for a republican catholic I suppose.

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