Written by Don Byrd
In a weekend story, NPR’s Sarah McCammon looks into a new feature of presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign speech: “Imagine what our country could accomplish if we started working together as one people, under one God, saluting one flag,”
As McCammon reports, the emphasis on “one God” has caused concern among religious liberty advocates. After all, America is committed to religious liberty. We celebrate our religious diversity and see religious pluralism as a great strength.
It is certainly not uncommon for candidates to acknowledge America as a nation “under God.” That phrase is in the Pledge of Allegiance; “In God We Trust” is on U.S. currency. References to the country’s religiosity are not unexpected. But what does it mean to want to unify the country under one God?
This statement is especially troubling in the context of Trump’s previous proposals to ban certain immigrants based on their religion, and his suggestion that religious profiling would be an appropriate law enforcement technique to combat terrorism, including even the closing of mosques.
It is not clear what Trump means by “under one God.” Maybe someone can ask him. But particularly in a cultural climate of intense and increasing hostility toward Muslim Americans and increasing expressions of anti-Semitism, I find such rhetoric irresponsible.
The seal of the United States says “E Pluribus Unum,” Out of many, one. As Americans, we are one people not because we worship the same God, but because we respect each other’s rights to believe and worship according to our conscience, to maintain different beliefs about God and religion, or to choose not to believe.