If USA is a secular country, how come "in God we trust" is written on its money?

Easy question, and waiting answers.

If we are a modern country derived from (mainly) English origins how come our National Motto is in Latin?

I believe it falls under the heading of ceremonial deism and the idea that while not everyone worships the same god, everyone worships some god and therefore wouldn’t have a problem with the sentiment expressed.

If it bothers you, you can buy stamps that black it out and replace it with e pluribus unum.

Because everything sounds better in Latin. See: “Money before People”.

Because, the US is not as secular as we profess to be.

Because the US is only a purely secular country on paper. The SCOTUS has created the concept of “ceremonial deism” which is either a brilliant piece of jurisprudence or a judicial fig leaf, depending on your point of view. Probably a more difficult question is why Christmas is a federal holiday. “God” can be pretty generic and can apply to pretty much any religion, but “Christmas” is clearly a holiday of one specific religion (or group of religions, depending on how you look at it).

BTW, since you’re new to this board, you’ve set your OP up as if you’re looking for a debate by saying it’s an “easy question”, which it clearly is not. Political debates generally end up in GD, not GQ.

Is Christmas a federal holiday, or is Dec. 25 a federal holiday?

Christmas is a federal holiday. From this link from OPM’s (office of personnel management, the HR dept. for the federal government) web site , they refer to the holiday on 25th of December as Christmas Day.


Moved from GQ to Great Debates.

General Questions Moderator

People still pay for things with paper money?

Is that legal? I was under the impression it was an offense (a minor one, to be sure) to deface the currency.

The USA is a secular country? You’ve got to be kidding.

Technically, yes, you’re not allowed to mark currency but practically, no one cares, especially about ones. You can get wheresgeorge.com stamps and all sorts of things. I’ve seen all sorts of sharpie attacks on bills from the lame but hilarious BONER to pirate george washingtons.

The factual answer to the OP’s question, to the extent that there is one, can be found on Wikipedia.

Christmas is really 2 holidays now though. There’s the Christian holiday, i.e. the birth of Christ, and the secular holiday with Santa and presents. I imagine most people mix the two together to various degrees, but there’s no reason why it can’t be 100% secular. I celebrate Christmas with exactly zero religion involved, and, certainly in the UK, it seems like most of the public side of the holiday is about Santa rather than the Nativity. That’s enough justification as far as I’m concerned to have it as a national holiday.

There is no reason why it couldn’t be 100% secular, but in fact it isn’t.

It’s pretty clear that the federal holiday is the secular one - in colonies where the religious authorities had a lot of influence over the government, celebrating Christmas was** illegal** - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_in_Puritan_New_England

Only if you do it “with intent to render [it] unfit to be reissued.”

I meant 100% secular for an individual (like myself), which I believe is a valid reason to keep it as a public holiday. The fact that a lot of people also celebrate the religious side of it is irrelevant as far as the government is concerned. I agree that when it was originally declared a public holiday it was for religious reasons, and for many people it still is, but nowadays just as many people celebrate it in a purely secular manner. I’d imagine it’s a smaller group in America than in the UK, but still a fair proportion of the population. Certainly enough that it’s not a Christian only holiday.

Admittedly I’m basing this mostly on my experience here in the UK, so I may be underestimating how religious Americans are, but I’m sure that there’s plenty of Atheists who celebrate Christmas, and fair few people who follow non-Christian religions who still get involved in the Santa and gift-giving side of the holiday.

  • On preview I see that Andy L has pointed out that it was probably started as a secular holiday. I don’t know personally whether that’s true or not, but I certainly think that nowadays the “Holiday Season” is at least 50/50 secular and religious, and probably getting less religious each year.*