By Louis De Lauro
I am a crappy Buddhist. Why?
1. I am not enlightened. I am not equanimous and I forget what equanimous means. I am not even calm—I just pretend to be calm. I am just crappy.
2. I am from New Jersey. Is it even possible to be a Buddhist living in densely populated, always agitated, traffic-filled, foul-mouthed, New Jersey? Nope, it’s not, so I fake it. I am a fake, crappy Buddhist.
3. I am also a history teacher. So I am keenly aware of the founding fathers’ intention to separate church and state. And I get pissed when other religious folks dismiss my Buddhism. See, I used the word pissed rather than equanimous. More proof that I am crappy.
What am I talking about? Well, today I am talking about In God WE Trust.
Louisiana has just recently decided to post this American slogan in public schools. I know the slogan is also plastered on the money that I use every day. I know 70 percent of Americans are practicing Christians and many love the slogan.
I also know because I am a Buddhist that this slogan shouldn’t bother me. I should just let it go.
But it does bother me. Read number one above. I am not calm.
In New Jersey, I live among Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Agnostics, Atheists and Non-religious folk. We don’t all trust in God and we don’t all believe in God. Not believing in God is okay because we live in the land of the free. I don’t trust God. You do. Great! Let’s just be nice to each other and share a snack. That’s my slogan.
Now read number two again. I am from New Jersey which proves I am not calm.
Sure Louisiana has more Christians than New Jersey and most Christians probably favor the In God WE Trust slogan, but Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and others live in Louisiana too. Some people probably really don’t like the slogan very much. And this is their America too.
Read number three, I am a history teacher. The first line in the First Amendment of the Constitution states: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.
So, we don’t get to say In God WE Trust in public schools.
WE are a secular country that separates church and state. I love that we are a secular country and you do too. You get to be Christian! And I get to be Buddhist. Awesome. Now let’s share that snack.
I know President Eisenhower adopted the, In God WE Trust slogan during The Cold War during the 1950s to remind Americans that the USSR was a cold communist place and the USA was a warm, God-loving place, but the slogan is no good. The slogan disrespects the Constitution, and it dismisses Hindus, Muslims, Agnostics, Atheists and non-religious folk living in the United States.
If public schools in the United States adopted the slogan, WE Don’t Trust God, I would protest with as much anger as you.
If public schools in the United States adopted the slogan In Allah WE Trust, I promise I would also protest. And you would too.
If the slogan In Buddha WE Trust was adopted by schools I would speak out the loudest against it. I would say Buddha has no interest in us trusting him. He simply encourages us to accept suffering. Buddha would hate the In Buddha WE Trust slogan. I imagine if God exists he doesn’t care about the slogan either. A loving God would be more interested in a slogan disavowing hate or war. A loving God would suggest we choose a better slogan.
Now clearly, not liking the In God WE Trust slogan should not cause me to suffer. I should probably shut my mouth and be happy for the Christian people who like the slogan and remind myself if this slogan causes me to suffer that I should accept this suffering. My suffering benefits the good people who love the slogan.
No, WE don’t all have Trust in God, but my personal trust in the teachings of Buddha should shut me up. But as hard as I try I am not calm.
Damn it, I am a crappy Buddhist.
Editor: Dana Gornall
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