IN GODDESS WE TRUST: Anybody who carefully examines early American culture will discover that it was the Roman Goddess Minerva–not the God of Judeo-Christian mythology–whose image and likeness were often portrayed in statues, sculptures, paintings, friezes, seals, and other objects placed in state and federal buildings across the United States.
You can tell that the silly season has once again arrived here in Orange County when politicians, both Democrat and Republican, begin resorting to all sorts of gimmickry and chicanery to bamboozle the public and divert its attention away from their own ineptitude. An excellent example of this was last Tuesday’s unanimous decision by members of the Anaheim City Council to waste between $600 and $850 to install the letters “In God We Trust” in a prominent location within Council Chambers.
Given that Anaheim has long been able to govern its affairs without acknowledging the existence of a supernatural entity was apparently of no consequence to these folks. But in the aftermath of a much earlier vote to give $158 million in taxpayer funds to a hotel developer, I gather a few of them felt it was of utmost importance to remind us what God-fearing Christians they are, perhaps hoping that just maybe we’ll forget come election time they ignore the biblical admonition, “thou shalt not steal,” almost every time they meet.
Gail Eastman, the councilor who placed this item on the agenda, urged all of her colleagues to vote in favor of it. “It is a matter of patriotism,” she said. “It is a national motto. Our Congress has reaffirmed that. It is on our currency and I don’t know anybody rejects our currency because it’s on the currency. It’s a part of being an American and what America means to us.” Later, Eastman giddily remarked that State Senator Lou Correa personally contacted her about this matter, offering his full support.
Recent efforts by city councils like Anaheim’s to install the words “In God We Trust” are hilarious not only because many of the wealthy merchants, land owners, and slave holders who founded this country were staunch Deists who rejected Christianity, but that religious symbolism was rarely displayed on publicly-owned property in 18th and 19th century America. The only major exception to that, of course, were representations of deities from Greco-Roman mythology, most notably the Roman Goddess Minerva.
In fact, anybody who carefully examines early American culture will discover that it was the Goddess Minerva–not the God of Judeo-Christian mythology–whose image and likeness were often portrayed in statues, sculptures, paintings, friezes, seals, and other objects placed in state and federal buildings located across the United States, something quite common during that era. For example, when Philadelphia was the national capital from 1790 to 1800, Congress Hall had a sculpture of Minerva looming over the Speaker’s seat.
Although I don’t believe in gods or goddesses, I’m of the opinion it would have been more appropriate for the Anaheim City Council to have placed the words “In Goddess We Trust” in Council Chambers. For one thing, the Romans believed Minerva was the goddess of wisdom, art, schools, medicine, music and commerce. Now isn’t that a deity more fitting to pay homage to than the one depicted in Judeo-Christian mythology who, if we are to believe what the Old Testament says about him, is a cranky old fellow?
And besides, it would have been the right thing to do, especially here in California, where the Goddess Minerva has been part of our state seal ever since it was adopted via Constitutional Convention in 1849. Her image and likeness are sprinkled all over the State Capitol in Sacramento, not to mention emblazoned on the doors of every vehicle owned by the California Highway Patrol. So why waste time putting “In God We Trust” on publicly-owned property when Minerva, for the most part, is already there?