A couple of years ago, I received several chain emails about the Presidential $1 coins that were being released by the U.S. Mint. Images of the front and back of the new coins were included in the email, the point of which was to decry the fact that “In God We Trust” had been intentionally omitted from the coins. This was cited as more evidence of the conspiratorial undermining of Judeo-Christian values in our nation. The email (which belonged to the genre, “Real Christians Will Forward This”) called for a boycott of the coins and urged a refusal to accept them as change. “Together,” the email promised, “we can force them out of circulation!”

My first thought when I received the emails was, “These coins probably don’t need a lot of help staying out of circulation.” Just ask Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea. The $1 coins bearing their images have found their way into my pocket with the rarity of four-leaf clovers. We Americans like to fold our dollars, not jingle them.

My second thought was, “This has ‘all-the-facts-are-not-in-yet’ written all over it.” Sure enough, it wasn’t long before clarifying and corrective information was available. As part of a radical new design utilized for the coins, the year of minting, the motto from the Great Seal of the United States, “E Pluribus Unum,” and the national motto, “In God We Trust,” were all inscribed on the coin’s edge. So, the critics’ concerns and objections were laid to rest by this explanation, right? You don’t know many conspiracy theorists, do you? The response from the “coin-gate” crowd was that “In God We Trust” had been etched on the coin’s edge so that it would wear off once in circulation. Tell you what….start rubbing the edge of one of those coins between your fingers, and let me know how long it takes for the words to disappear. Pardon me if I don’t wait up.

My third thought was, “Has anybody ever thought to ask God whether or not He wants His name on our money?” Let’s see, what all can you do with our legal tender? You can buy alcohol, drugs, tobacco, and porn. You can pay a prostitute with it, feed a slot machine with it, or throw it away on lottery tickets. I’m not so sure that God wants His name associated with those kind of transactions. Even when we use our money for morally neutral or intrinsically good purposes, do we really consciously consider how much we trust in God when we buy a movie ticket, pay the toll on the turnpike, or get our chocolate fix out of the vending machine? Do we demand that “In God We Trust” appear on our credit cards, debit cards, or checks? Just asking, and wondering how far we might need to carry the boycott.

Jesus once used a coin as a visual aid in answering a trick question about paying taxes. In His response, He failed to mention anything about the need to mix God’s name with Caesar’s image. I assume the same would go for the likenesses of Washington, Lincoln, Hamilton, Jackson, Grant, and Franklin.

Let’s save our energy for real battles. When we over-reactively cry, “Persecution!,” we dishonor those who truly suffer for their faith.

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