In God We Trust? A Tale of Soul-Numbing Conformity

randomlychad  —  August 22, 2011 — 10 Comments
'in god we trust' photo (c) 2008, Jeffrey Smith - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

For 3rd time in as many years, I’ve had to change my email signature.

For over two years, I had “Heb Dduw heb ddim, Duw a digon” as part of my signature. This is Welsh for “Without God without anything, God is enough.” Which is truly how I feel.

During that period, no one questioned my signature… Until one day, when a highly placed individual apparently googled it.

And was offended. Because it referenced God. (In Welsh).

I was told it violated the establishment clause (separation of church and state, that I couldn’t advocate a religion).
Interestingly, it seems to me that while my signature referenced God, it didn’t specify which god (though if you’ve read this blog for any length if time, or if you know me, you know exactly which God I take that phrase to mean).

So, in reality, the offended individual was actually offended by their own interpretation of the quote, rather than its implicit meaning. They took it to mean the Christian God, and were thus offended that I was advocating religion via a business email system. When really all I was doing was expressing how I felt about life (and believe me I see plenty of quotes from peers in other areas that express their various world views).

Why does it always seem that the first part of the establishment clause (“congress shall make no law…”) trumps the second part (“nor prohibit the free exercise thereof”)?

The irony here is that there are a great number of states–such as Arizona (“Ditat Deus,” “God enriches”) for instance–that reference God in their official mottoes. In fact, our (American) society is replete with references to God; such as:

“In God we trust.” (On the back of our currency).

“… One nation, under God.” (The pledge of allegiance).

There are certainly others. What I don’t understand is why people think these things–referencing a non-specific God–are necessarily advocating a particular religion? What if the slogan on our currency read “In Jesus we trust?”

(There would be great number of Americans who would feel slighted, cheated, unrepresented by what is clearly a reference to the Christian God (Whom I believe in, love, and serve). Thus, it seems to me that the founding fathers were wise to settle on the word “God” for use on our currency. (The poor atheists are just going to have live with it, I’m afraid). They at least understood what it meant to live as Christians in a pluralistic society.

It seems that these days lip service is paid to “tolerance”–as long as one’s views align with the prevailing trends).

Being the introvert that I am, none of these things occurred me until later (when I had time to reflect). So I changed my signature to reflect only name and contact information. Name, rank, serial number. Yes, sir. Yes, ma’am.

Stupid as it may sound, I felt like I was giving away a piece of my soul. Give me art, give me poetry, give me a little scrap somewhere that shows I’m not just a cog in the behemoth of industry!

Sometime later, we underwent a rebranding, and I updated my signature to reflect our new organizational structure in a very slightly humorous, but accurate way.

No one had a problem with it–indeed all I received was positive feedback–until this morning.

So I’ve had to change it yet again…

The homogenous nature of the cubicle culture is such a drag, you know? There is very little room for the individual–and very little tolerance, either.

Which makes me thankful that I have this blog–I think I would go crazy otherwise.

People speak of cookie-cutter Christians. Well, I’m here to tell you that church ain’t got nothing on corporate culture!

Care to share any tales of soul-numbing conformity? The comments are open. This is a safe place.

Comments

comments

randomlychad

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Christ-follower, husband, dad, blogger, reader, writer, movie buff, introvert, desert-dweller, omnivore, gym rat. May, or may not, have a burgeoning collection of Darth Vader t-shirts. Can usually be found drinking protein shakes, playing with daughter, working out with his son, or hanging out with his wife. Makes a living playing with computers. Subscribe to RandomlyChad by Email

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  • Cindy Holman

    Aren't people insane sometimes? You have to say it -- it's TRUE! Love the article Chad -- no you're not losing your mind -- people are just that dumb.

  • Ricky Anderson

    I think by squashing your creativity, they just challenged you to be more creative!

    The image in my email signature is rotated to the right by one pixel.

    • You got that right, bro!My sig now reads:NameRankSerial number”Semper ubi sub ubi”Heh-heh!The gauntlet is thrown!

  • Given that God was added to our money and the pledge in the 50's rather than by the founders, I have a hard time getting very worked up about it. The addition of it was absolutely to press conformity. You weren't only to be a patriotic American, you had to be a patriotic RELIGIOUS American. So it absolutely DOES disenfranchise a segment of the American population (one of whom happens to be my spouse).

    When you're a part of the least trusted group in America, simple things like this matter. When you're a part of a majority, it can be hard to see how your actions affect a minority, but I think it's important to consider.

  • Fiona

    You think it’s bad in USA, here in Britain everything has to be so politically correct, you can’t breath. Our individuality is so stifled. People get suspended from their jobs for offering prayer for the sick, we can’t wear our crosses in many jobs in public sector without disciplining or even getting fired. In some instances the English flag has had to be taken down so not to offend other faiths, it’s sickening. Yet ‘we’ have to tolerate every religion/cult under the sun. The world’s gone mad. People should respect your views just as you respect theirs.

  • sethcaddell

    It's true that the corporate culture is pretty uptight… which is funny because too often that's a common critique of Christianity. Unfortunately sometimes we have to play by the corporate rules to have an opportunity to speak truth into individuals lives.

    However frustrating it might be, though, I don't think removing God from the pledge or our currency would make any difference to my Christianity. Outlawing Christianity might influence the way I reach out to the lost, but it still wouldn't shake my faith.

    • sethcaddell

      Hang in there Chad. Even if it's inconvenient, you get to be a light in a dark place. That's an awesome opportunity. Great post.

      • True enough. Thanks so much!

    • Oh, agreed. I would go so far as to say that I think putting the word, “God,” on currency (and perhaps even in the pledge) had the opposite of its intended effect: made the word all too common, base. Something we say at school and baseball games, and then go on about our lives. Seriously, other than those who filed suits, who pays any attention to the “in God we trust” on our money?

      • sethcaddell

        Too true. No one besides over-zealous Christians and athiests even care about "in God we trust" anymore.