Something Wrong in Wentzville

We’ve gone over what’s wrong with most of the arguments in favor of In God We Trust until we were blue in the face.  I honestly thought I had seen every possible arguement for keeping that phrase as our motto.

That was until I saw Tom of Wentzville.  Tom is apparently a teacher of Government and History and he has the worst and most poorly formed argument for keeping the motto as is.

Let’s see if I can break this down.
1. Atheist groups are non-profits (by 1st amendment?)
2. Non-profits are “religious” or “faith based” (also by 1st amendment?)
3. In God We Trust is not a religious statement according to the courts
4. It would be promoting the “Atheist religion” and against the courts rulings to remove In God We Trust
5. Therefore the “non-religious” statement must stay in order to follow court rulings.

So this entire premise begins to fall apart right at point 1 and his assertion that the 1st amendment grants non-profit status.  It is actually a tax law, 501c3.

But let’s not quibble of location of the law, let’s move on to point 2 and legal designation under 501c3.
In point 2, Tom asserts that (again, erroneously, under the 1st amendment) non-profits are religious or faith based.  In fact there are several classifications of non-profits under 501c3.
According the IRS the following groups or corporations can be considered as non-profits:

  • Religious.
  • Charitable.
  • Scientific.
  • Testing for public safety.
  • Literary.
  • Educational.
  • Fostering national or international amateur sports competition
  • The prevention of cruelty to children or animals.

The one most commonly used by Atheist/Secular organizations is the Educational classification (including TOMP).  While some like The Humanist Society have a religious arm that does take the religious exemption, they do so in order to have members qualify as clergy for officiating weddings.

Point 3 is technically true, but I am pretty sure they got that wrong.  But that is for another post.

In point 4, Tom makes a couple major mistakes.  First, what is the “Atheist Religion”?
Secondly, if there were a way to promote the “Atheist Religion”, it would be a sign saying “There are probably no gods.”
But that is not what we are asking for here.  We are asking that no religious viewpoint be promoted on the dais.
And to flesh out that thought with point 5, if removing the sign promotes the “Atheist Religion”, isn’t it a promotion of religion to have it displayed?  Did Tom just imply that the phrase actually is religious?

So there it is folks, the worst argument yet for keeping the motto.

Robert Ray

Robert is the founder of The Original Motto Project. He is a avid secular activist that likes to dabble into small electronics in his spare time. He and his wife Amy co-host the Secular Yakking podcast. He lives in the Puget sound with his wife and 3 daughters.