Wyoming state Rep. Cheri Steinmetz holds an “In God We Trust” sign in March. (Bob Moen/AP)

Regarding the Dec. 2 Politics & the Nation article “Does ‘In God We Trust’ belong in schools?”:

Our country’s founders — including Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams — believed that religion does not need the help of government. That is why the Constitution’s only reference to religion is the ban on religious tests for public office and why the First Amendment includes the church-state separation principle to protect religious liberty. Today’s religious right seems to think religion needs to be propped up by government.

Edd Doerr, Silver Spring

The writer is the former chief executive
of Americans for Religious Liberty.

The religious right has been pushing state legislators to make “In God We Trust” a state motto and to post the motto in all public schools. A few brave legislators, including some with deep religious backgrounds, have opposed this because they don’t want the government telling people what to believe. They are also speaking up for religious minorities and those who do not believe in God. This motto, they believe, gives tacit encouragement to school bullies.

These words are not the best representation of the values and philosophy of the United States. The phrase became the official motto in 1956 as a response to communist-state atheism. But the United States is a land of religious freedom where people can believe as they prefer, without penalty.

We should return to the previous “unofficial” motto, “E Pluribus Unum” — out of many, one. It unifies us. The United States consistently encouraged and welcomed immigrants (until recently).

Great strength can be forged by people from diverse origins. We are one from many because we have not looked to national origin or ethnicity or religion as our identifying characteristics, but to our beliefs in the freedoms enumerated in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. That is what makes us one.  

Jay Lamb, Fairfax