“Cue The Rant!”:: Dear Gov. Bryant, Stop Excluding Non-Christians

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I’m off this week but my good friend from college Whitley Loyd has something she’s been waiting to rant about so I gave her an outlet. She’s taking over “Cue The Rant!” for me today! I’ll be back next week! Enjoy your Independence Day holiday!

By Whitley Loyd

As of July 1st, 2014, as part of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Mississippi state seal changed to include the phrase “In God We Trust.” Now, as an Atheist living in the South I remain fairly quiet about my beliefs. I don’t judge others and I don’t try to force my beliefs on them. Governor Phil Bryant says changing the state seal to include this new slogan is a push to get Mississippians to stand up for their beliefs. Well, I guess this means I’m going to have to start doing that now. So dear governor, would you like to know what I think of the newly modified state seal? Would you like to know how I feel about you claiming “religious freedom” while stamping your own faith on my state’s seal?

“Cue The Rant!”

Well, aside from it being an unnecessary change and a waste of money, I also think it is discriminatory and a misrepresentation of people of other cultures and religions/non-religions aside from Christianity.

State Capitol, Jackson, Mississippi, MS, State House, The State Capitol Building in the capital city of Jackson.

How much is this change going to cost taxpayers? Aren’t there more important things our money could be going towards? The Child Abuse Protection Center in Gulfport closed this week. How about we put our money toward keeping important institutions like this open? How about instead of changing a seal that was perfectly fine the way it was, we focus our efforts on more important issues like education and the economy? There is a reason Mississippi ranks at or near the bottom of every national list. Doesn’t our government think we should put our money towards improving our citizens and our state as a whole instead of this ridiculousness?

Not only is this a waste of taxpayer dollars, but it is incredibly inconsiderate toward people of non-Christian faiths. First, if we had to change the seal, why didn’t we change it to something more unifying? Why didn’t we have it say “United We Stand” or how about “E Pluribus Unum”? (“Out of Many, One”) and was first proposed by the U.S. Continental Congress in 1782, for use on the Great Seal of the United States. Today “E Pluribus Unum” still appears on U.S. coins, currency, and in other places. This phrase proposed by our Founding Fathers is much more unifying and much less alienating than “In God We Trust.” Think of how many Mississippians do not feel like “In God We Trust” is a very representative slogan for them. Do the state congressmen and senators not have any Hindu, Buddhist, Agnostic, Muslim, etc. friends, doctors, or neighbors? Would they say to their Hindu doctor’s face “Well, I’m sorry it doesn’t exactly represent you, but my faith is more important than yours because there are more of us than there are you.” And certainly, they may say that “God” could represent the gods of many religions, but does it really? Everyone knows which “God” they mean. They mean the Christian God. However, even if they did intend it to mean all “gods” where does that leave the Buddhists? Buddha is not considered to be a god. How do you think the governor would like it if the seal said “In Buddha We Trust”? He would probably feel like he wasn’t being represented very well by that now wouldn’t he? And of course who cares about the Atheists right? We’re all heathens who eat babies anyway and couldn’t possibly have any sense of morality. Clearly, “In God We Trust” is a completely alienating slogan that disrespects the beliefs of people of many different religions.

“But this country was founded on Christianity! ‘In God We Trust’ has been around since the Founding Fathers! It’s in our Pledge of Allegiance! It’s on our money! Why shouldn’t we pay homage to those great men and our history?”

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How many times have I heard this? – Too many to count. And guess what? It’s not true. The Founding Fathers were deists who were strongly for the separation of church and state. And the phrase “In God We Trust” came about in the 1860’s – that’s almost 100 years after our country was established and the Founding Fathers were all long dead. At this time it was put on our currency. It wasn’t until the 1950’s during the communist scare when the slogan was put into the Pledge of Allegiance. Also, let’s not forget what were some other beliefs around the time of the founding of our country – slavery and the idea women were lesser than men. How do you think people would feel if the seal had been changed to say “In Whites We Trust”? It goes perfectly with our rebel flag and our history don’t you think Governor? Or how about “In Men We Trust”? I’m not too sure how his wife would feel about that one. Personally, as a female, it would make me a little upset, but I digress. Are you beginning to see my point yet? How using our nation’s or state’s history may not be the most unifying or respectful idea ever? Instead of focusing on the past we should be moving toward the future. We need to grow as a country of people who coexist peacefully together, not continue to encourage discrimination.

Be proud of your beliefs whatever they may be, but please understand that intolerance of any kind is wrong. This is not the right way to show Mississippi is full of God loving Christians. The way to do that is through helping others and loving them and treating them with kindness no matter what they believe. It’s not by stamping a slogan on a seal and staying “You don’t like it, you can leave.” Your faith should be something personal and between you and your God not something you use to make a political statement.

Whitley Loyd

That’s it for this week. Don’t forget to cue the Sir Charles this Independence Day!

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