Claudine Clark

‘In God we trust’

On July 30, 1956, the 84th Congress passed a joint resolution “declaring ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’ the national motto of the United States.” This motto lies in the American Civil War, where Union supporters wanted to emphasize their attachment to God and to boost morale. Today, we may wonder about the use of this symbol of the USA, which is found absolutely everywhere, from dollars bills, to public schools, to flags.

When we put our trust in God, we are trusting him to be our very life (Colossians 3:4). That means that when we first put our trust in God, we are taking the first step toward learning to trust him for everything! How then can we explain the death penalty? Does America not trust God enough to judge sinners? Why would anyone do justice in such an archaic way as to use the death penalty?

Colossians 3:13 says “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgives you.” Where is the forgiveness in the death penalty? The only thing that drives this barbarism is the spirit of vengeance. Vayikra/Leviticus 19:18 tells us “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your countrymen. Love your fellow as yourself: I am the LORD.”

The states that apply the death penalty are the most conservative ones, what hypocrisy! If we study the definition of American conservatism we are told that “American conservatism is a broad political value system in the United States that is characterized by an attachment to tradition, a strong religiosity“. How can one claim to be so close to God and commit an act that goes against the values that religion instills in us?

Without wanting to start a debate on abortion, I would like to simply cross two ideologies which seem diametrically opposed and which are however conveyed by the same social/political current. The main argument that led the conservative Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022 is the fact that life begins at conception, making abortion murder. These same people describing themselves as “Pro-life” say that ending a life is murder legally and ethically, even a life that is only a few growing cells at the time of death. It is necessary to recall that the decision in Roe v. Wade is the result of a trio of conservative justices appointed during Donald Trump’s presidency: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. Donald Trump himself has carried out a record number of federal executions during his presidency, murdering more people in his last year in office than in the last 40 years!

Although governors have full rights on the death penalty, a glimmer of hope for the federal death penalty was ignited when Joe Biden was elected and officially declared to abolish the death penalty. Is this just a campaign promise or a sincere commitment? Today, the government’s inaction on this issue is cause for reflection.

In God We Trust – Liberty – USA
By mrallen (copyrights free)

In any case, religion is something that must be respected, one cannot choose the values one chooses to respect, even less when one is a fervent defender of God’s values. The problem is that humans are fallible and most politicians are caught up in their own ambitions and stray from the right path. Rabbi Ari Kahn said about the quote, “I don’t want worshippers who are righteous, I want worshippers who are so busy doing good that they don’t have time to do evil. – Rabbi Mena’hem Mendel of Kotsk; “People who are obsessed with becoming righteous can succumb to self-centeredness and self-importance. Whereas those who focus on pursuing good deeds are sure to become virtuous.” This is so true. We see it with the recent actions of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who in a frenzied run for president is poised to flout all of his so-called Christian values by making Florida the most extreme death penalty state. All this to satisfy a puppet theater and acceded to the head of the country. The problem is that the satisfaction of these ambitions comes at the cost of human life!

As a mother of 4 children I carried in me and gave the precious life 4 times, when I look at my children, I am so sad and flabbergasted to imagine that they can grow up in such an unjust and murderous society. However, I believe in humanity and I know that there are women and men in this world who transmit profoundly human values to their children. Rabbi Moshe Loeb of Sassov said: “If a person comes to ask you for help and assistance, do not say to him: “have confidence in God” because it is to act as if God did not exist; on the other hand, act as if there were only you on earth who could help this person.” Taught your children to spread good, for life!

Claudine Clark
French Coalition Against the Death Penalty President

About the Author
Claudine Clark is president/founder of the French Coalition Against the Death Penalty. An abolitionist, paralegal and human rights consultant, her passion stems from her origins as the granddaughter of Warsaw ghetto survivors. She defends human values of forgiveness and tolerance through numerous actions.