“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” – First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States

Once again the question of the “separation of church” and state has made its way into the news. This frustrates me because people confuse this idea with the “separation of church and state.” I figure most people mistakenly think this idea is the same as “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

Photo illustration by David Yonke/Toledo Faith & Values

If “In God We Trust” is taken off our money we might as well replace it with “In the Government We Trust,” says Jerry The Janitor. Photo illustration by David Yonke/Toledo Faith & Values

The way I see it (and please feel free to argue the point with me), every time the courts of this land decide we cannot have prayer in school or at a school event, the court — a branch of our government — is establishing a religion.

If the U.S. Supreme Court decides a small town in the United States cannot open council meetings in prayer, the high court is establishing a religion. Every time we use the excuse that we need to remove all references of God from our public lives, we are permitting the establishment of a state religion — the very thing “we the people” seem to be afraid of.

I am a Protestant, but I really don’t get offended by a non-Protestant prayer. I do, however, get very offended when I’m told that I can’t pray in public because it might be offensive to somebody. I do not understand a lot about religions other than mine, and to be honest I might not understand all that much about my own religious upbringing, but I do respect the right of all people to pray. I find nothing offensive about another person’s prayers.

To get back to the point of this column, if we permit all references of God to be removed from all state-controlled functions, we are creating a vacuum that will be filled by the state. Therefore, with every decision the courts make to remove God, the state is establishing a religion.

Some people think “In God We Trust” should be taken off of our money. If this ever happens we may as well replace this motto with “In the Government We Trust.” Take a good look around your world. How many people are trusting in politicians to take care of all their needs? This has nothing to do with liberalism or conservatism; they both can become the established religion of the state.

Jerry The Janitor: Keep "In God We Trust" on U.S. currency. Photo illustration by David Yonke/Toledo Faith & Values

Jerry The Janitor: Let’s keep “In God We Trust” on our money. Photo illustration by David Yonke/Toledo Faith & Values

Whatever replaces our trust in God becomes the religion of this nation.

You might want to think twice before not wanting to offend somebody. I think it is far better to have freedom of religion than freedom from religion.

No religion is in itself a religion.


  1. Denis Eble

    The way I see it (and please feel free to argue the point with me) – OK, Jerry, I will. First, though, I like that new U.S. Coin! Which President is that anyway?

    I find it most difficult to rationalize that the absence of something is something. I’ll work on that for a while and get back to you later.

  2. jules of Holy Toledo

    jules of Holy Toledo

    Could it be that we get hung up on that word “religion” ?
    ……afterall, religion means many things to many different people.
    For some, religion is connected to domes & spires, ancient edifices or maybe vacated strip mall stores…many attach religion to clerics in funny vestments and garb, to bearded or shaved Monks, Rabbis, Imams or Priests, to candles, and stained glass, and smelly incense. Religion could even be penance or how about fire & brimstone, guilt and self loathing?

    Some may conclude that religion goes hand in hand with ringing bells, organ music, choirs or maybe hand-clapping & jumping up and down.
    For others religion means love and peace, charity, punishment and violence…and bloody wars.
    Geez, “religion” certainly seems to be multi-faceted….complicated!
    Perhaps the word “religion” could be substituted with simply, the word, “faith”
    Faith is, aferall, internal, something found in one’s very essence…it resides there, safe, protected…..faith can be: faith in God, or in many Gods, faith in the Great Cosmic, or faith in no-god at all.
    Faith is handy, easy to carry, and portable ! You can take faith anywhere you want…..even to places where “religion” is not welcomed!
    …….observer Jules in Holy Toledo….

  3. Michele Joseph

    Michele Joseph

    Hi Jerry. I want to comment on that coin,too ? How cool ! You have the
    best pictures ! Did you do that with some kind of program ?
    I’m sure you’re not surprised that I have a comment in regard to this,also.
    I see a couple of issues here.
    One is the phrase “In God We Trust ” on the money. Just my opinion,
    but this, to me ,is no big deal whether it’s there or not. I think most people
    wouldn’t have noticed if it hadn’t been talked about so much, and it won’t
    be long before there isn’t currency anyway. I haven ‘t used any in months, and when I did, the only thing I ever noticed was the number in the corner.
    It’s much ado about nothing
    Those who trust in Him will, no matter what the money says ; and those who don’t won’t .
    Now, here’s where I get serious.
    It reads “CONGRESS shall make no law respecting an establishment of
    religion “.
    CONGRESS can’t make laws establishing theocracy, but CORPORATIONS
    can & do every day. It takes longer than it would for Congress, but they do.
    They pour HUGE amounts of money into candidates who will obey them, and rewarded with gerry-mandered districts. They’re there every day in D.C., doing their best to get things the way they want them, the people be damned. Hobby Lobby. Chick-Fil-A . I’m waiting for the day some Muslim corporation says
    they won’t cover people who eat pork or women who won’t wear hijab. Then
    some of this “My religion forbids XYZ ” stuff will stop. Or blow up. It’s that serious
    Don’t get me started. Let’s just say that there is the money & the will to ram a theocracy down our throats.
    Which brings me to: I see two separate issues- public prayer-one issue & prayer in schools the second.
    Public prayer. I don’t think anybody is saying that folks can’t pray in public,except Jesus-He wasn’t too crazy about it. Matthew 6.5 “When you
    pray,don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on the street
    corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you
    the truth,that is all the reward they will ever get”
    Churches provide an appropriate venue for group prayer. Everyone is
    there by their own agreement and minors with their parents’ permission.
    But, praying in public is protected by the Constitution, if that’s what you feel you want to do. BUT BUT : Forcing OTHER PEOPLES’ CHILDREN to pray- that’s another matter. And yeah, I know, I know, people would say that they are not being forced- B.S.,they are. It’s very hard on a child not to fit in. They’ll fake it. Which is absolutely horrible.
    We should be afraid of a state religion. Very afraid. It hasn’t worked out very well for other countries who have tried it. Taliban. Sharia law.
    It is not necessary for kids to pray in schools to have a religion. I know
    many people who have lives in which the only time the kid is not being exposed to his religion is in school. Which is as it should be, schools are public places,
    FUNDED BY THE TAX-PAYER. I don’t want to send my kid to school to learn somebody else’s’ religion.
    Keep it in the home.Keep it private. They can have a life that expresses their
    values 24/7 365. Just not talk about it in public places.
    You say that not to pray in school is no religion, and no religion is state religion-
    I say -” If I’m not having sex at work, does that mean I’m not having any ???? ”
    Religion is personal.

  4. Patrick O'Gara

    “Some people think “In God We Trust” should be taken off of our money. If this ever happens we may as well replace this motto with “In the Government We Trust.” “

    If we decide to take ” In God We Trust,” off our money why is it necessary to replace it with anything at all?
    If we insist in replacing it with something, why not, “Never Give A Sucker An Even Break,” or “This Dollar, (And A Few More Like It) Will Get You A Cup Of Coffee AT Starbucks”?

  5. One of the pillars of the freedom we have in this country is the First Amendment freedom of religion and that there shall be no establish of a state religion. I believe very strongly in those First Amendment concepts. I can practice my religion as can all others with religious beliefs, but there is no established state religion. If you do not hold any religious beliefs, that too is your right. And it is not appropriate for the state to make you have a religious belief or for our country to have an established religion. That has worked well for over 200 years and I see no reason to change that now.

  6. I agree Jerry. By default the courts are establishing a secular society, and therefore crumbing the moral foundations on which the Western civil society was built.

  7. jules of Holy Toledo

    jules of Holy Toledo

    Overheard at a ‘Big Corporation Board Meeting” …..New York City.

    “Before we discuss destroying the competition, screwing our customers and laughing all the way to the bank, let’s begin this meeting with a prayer”

    …observer jules, in Holy Toledo….

  8. Surely you’re worth more than a quarter dollar?!

    Great commentary. It seems many people get confused with the notion of “separation of church and state” . They conflate it with a separation of God and state. The founding fathers saw the inherent flaws with England’s state religion or church and wanted no part of that for the United States. They never sought to remove “God” from this nation or its governing structure.

    The last thing we need (or want) at this point should be to reject the “One” who made all of this (nation) and its greatness “possible”. Only men can screw it up. Please think about that one.

    That’s my “two bits” worth.

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