Nevermind J. What Would R Do?
When the Christian Right is criticizing Barack Obama, I don’t ask myself whether Obama is behaving like Jesus. Why not? Because Jesus was never President of the United States, never ran a modern-day democracy with the world’s most powerful military, never used a Teleprompter, never had to deal with Helen Thomas, etc.
Comparing Jesus and Barack is comparing twenty-first century apples and first-century oranges. It’s more logical to compare and contrast Obama and, say, Ronald Reagan.
So when the Congressional Prayer Caucus lambastes Barack Obama for referring to E Pluribus Unum as “our national motto” [when it’s actually “In God We Trust”], WWJD is the wrong question. WWRD makes perfect sense.
And instead of leafing through the Scriptures, it makes more sense — in this particular instance — to rely on Google.
Would Ronald Reagan, the Great Communicator, the Gipper, refer to E Pluribus Unum as our national motto?
The answer is Yes. Speaking at the National Forum on Excellence in Education, on Dec. 8, 1983 in Indianapolis, Indiana, Ronald Reagan said, and I quote:
“The motto of the United States is ‘E Pluribus Unum,’ from many, one.”
As far as I can tell, there wasn’t a Congressional Prayer Caucus around in 1983 to scold Mr. Reagan for calling E Pluribus Unum the official motto of our nation. [Turns out, that latin phrase is the official motto of our nation’s seal] and the official motto of the president’s seal, but not the official seal of the good old U.S. of A.]
There wasn’t a national outcry when Ronald Reagan called E Pluribus Unum our “national motto.”
In addition to Barack Obama, such luminaries as Dwight Eisenhower (WWDD), Jimmy Carter (WWJD), and Pope John Paul II (WWJPIID) have referred to E Pluribus Unum as the nation’s motto.
Neither claim unleashed an avalanche of letters, press releases and condemnations. Did Bush’s gaffes simply escape the attention of the Congressional Prayer Caucus? Or is the prayer caucus a Republican attack machine denouncing President Obama for political purposes?