Alamogordo, New Mexico, has gotten itself in the news by putting the motto, “In God We Trust” on its city hall.  The mayor has been shown on television saying, “It was affirmed as a national motto by Congress in 2011,” as if that standing was the only reason the city leaders chose to use it.

The atheists are offended, as of course they should be.  The posting of this motto in a public place implies that if you don’t trust in God (some God, any God) you are not one of the “we”―the “we” who are running the town, the “we” who “belong” in it.

Christians should also be offended.  Posting this motto in a City Hall (in spite of its traditional use in American society) cheapens the idea of trust in God.  Those who actually put their trust in God are likely to be found on the fringes: to be poor, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, or to be busy feeding the poor or working for environmental justice.  Or perhaps they are taking a big risk for some hope for themselves or their community.

People who are trusting in God are not trusting in politics, or a bank account.  Most people who succeed in those terms are like the rich young man in the Gospels: it is very hard to let go of dependence on what one has and turn one’s trust to God.  I know my strongest lessons in trust (call it God, or spirit, karma or the universe) have come when other things weren’t working out.  And then, somehow, they did, though often not as I expected.

Advertisements