Do You Have a Motto?


Motto:  “a short sentence or phrase chosen as encapsulating the beliefs or ideals guiding an individual, family, or institution.”
ORIGIN:  late 16th century: from Italian, ‘word’.

The great Quaker abolitionist and women’s rights leader, Lucretia Mott, had a personal motto:  “Truth for authority, not authority for truth.”  Go directly to what you know is true instead of turning to “authorities” (holy books, clergy, politicians, etc).

Americanity or Americanism (American Christian Religion) insists that every “true patriot” must pledge allegiance to the American Christian God (that is, Jesus) and assert the “national motto”–In God (Jesus) We Trust.  If we don’t, we aren’t True Americans.

For an interesting read, take a look at the Department of Treasury page that describes the origin and history of “In God We Trust.”

No surprise, a “Minister of the Gospel” from Pennsylvania suggested the phrase so we wouldn’t be known as a “heathen nation.”  And what better way to show the world we are good Christians than a nice motto to prove we actually “trust in God”?  This was, of course, during the Civil War, a national crisis.

In a later major crisis time, the 1950s, this happened:

“A law passed by the 84th Congress (P.L. 84-140) and approved by the President on July 30, 1956, the President approved a Joint Resolution of the 84th Congress, declaring IN GOD WE TRUST the national motto of the United States. IN GOD WE TRUST was first used on paper money in 1957.”  At the same time, “one nation under God” was added to a pledge that emphasized “indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Adding “under God” was perhaps the most divisive wording to stick in a unifying national creed.

Yet, the Great Seal of the United States was adopted by Congress in 1782 with the eagle and the words “E pluribus unum” (out of many, one).

Who needs MAGA hats.  E Pluribus Unum hats make more sense.  That motto reminds us of the secular foundation of our nation that does not divide people by religious beliefs and insist that America is a “Christian Nation.”

My personal motto?  Probably something like, “Think free; be good.”  Wouldn’t this tell you more about me than “In Jesus (or any God) I Trust”?

What’s YOUR motto?


Categories: american religionTags: , , , , , , , , ,


  1. I have a three-part motto:
    Ubi Dubium, Ibi Libertas (Where there is doubt, there is freedom)
    If you open your mind too far, your brain will fall out.
    We do not see things the way they are, we see them the way we are.

    And sometimes I might add “Don’t take yourself too seriously.”

    • Those are pretty good “words” to live by! I suppose that’s really the point, isn’t it? Mottos aren’t magic or something to take at face value (assuming for instance that someone actually “trusts” in a god), they’re about the way we live. Thanks for the comment.

  2. “Longing to be untethered” could be my motto, yet who then would I be? A nobody? That is actually the way I feel in my tethered state. Words to live by don’t seem to fit except for “quit worrying”.

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