The culture wars have a new battlefield, thanks to a letter this week from the Congressional Prayer Caucus to President Obama. To the religious right, the motto "E Pluribus Unum," which has been part of the fabric of American democracy since it was emblazened on the national seal in 1782, has become a controversial, anti-God statement.
See the Congressional Prayer Caucus letter.
Obama referred, innocently enough, to the motto "E Pluribus Unum" in a recent speech, pointing out that the Latin phrase, first adopted by the Founders, means "out of many, one." This beautiful motto perfectly captures the spirit of pluralistic America, where one country is formed out of many states, and where one people - the American people - are formed from a melting pot of immigrants from all around the world.
Out of many, one. Indeed, the wisdom of the Founders, in enscribing "E Pluribus Unum" on the Great Seal of the United States, can't be questioned.
Or maybe it can. As the above letter shows, to Rep. Michele Bachmann and others on the Congressional Prayer Caucus, Obama's reference to "E Pluribus Unum" borders on unpatriotic. They say he should instead be promoting the motto "In God We Trust," which was adopted as the official national motto at the urging of religious conservatives in 1956, during the McCarthy era and at the height of the Cold War Red Scare.
With all the credibility of public leaders who believe the world is only 6000 years old and that evolution is a fraud, the caucus wants Obama to "issue a correction." Apparently even referring to the "E Pluribus Unum" motto is now sacrilege to the dimwits on the far right. They also say Obama isn't mentioning God enough in his speeches and that he shouldn't refer to "inalienable rights" without mentioning that they come from God.
These folks should of course be seen for what they are: anti-intellectual fundamentalists and cynical politicians who are desperately trying to validate their own particular world view and the views of their supporters, aggressively inserting their theology into public policy at every opportunity.
I never thought "E Pluribus Unum" was controversial, but apparently it has become a statement that draws the ire of the religious right. But if that's the case, then for those of us who are concerned that an entity called the "Congressional Prayer Caucus" even exists (and is supported in any way by our tax dollars), there is really only one thing to do: At every opportunity, we should all be reminding our leaders and fellow citizens of what the real motto of this country is: E PLURIBUS UNUM! As the letter above shows, the motto has clearly become a battle cry in the culture wars.