March 12, 2007
The Master's Program
The Point of View - A Weekly Commentary by Bob Shank


Dear Marketplace Friend, 

Talk about a mess. In most businesses, a "reject" would be virtually worthless. "Recalled" is not a desirable addition to an ad to sell an automobile; if the standards on the assembly line are missed, the flawed item is usually headed for recycling, unless...
    Unless the foul-up is at the U.S. Mint. The new $1 coins have been a public relations snafu from the get-go. Talk about non-market sensitive: the majority of Americans prefer the dollar bill. Recent efforts to introduce $1 coins have been failures, with inventories languishing unused. The Mint wants to force the buck into coin form to save themselves money (paper bills wear out more quickly than the coins; the cost-of-a-dollar will be less for the Mint if they can force the coins down our pockets).
    Soo... they "goofed"... and made some defective $1 coins that are now selling on eBay for more than $200 each. What makes them so valuable? They have Washington on the front... but no God on the edge.
    Background: Back in 1956, the 84th Congress (a different bunch than work there today) passed a law declaring IN GOD WE TRUST to be the national motto of the United States. When you have a motto, you look for ways to expose it. Bumper stickers; refrigerator magnets; tattoos; where can you display your motto is a standing question for the marketing department. If you're a country, one biggie for motto marketing is your money. In everyone's pockets; on every transactional counter; the object of worship and crime: put it on your money! On the new $1 coin, some design pro came up with "the edge" as the place for the motto...
    Trouble is, it slipped past quality control. An indeterminate number of the first 300 million of the coins have a slight defect: no IN GOD WE TRUST on the edge. Rejects? Hardly. The resale value is $200 and rising. Are the pagans having a field day?
    It wasn't long ago that "pagan" would have been a wash-your-mouth-out slur. Celebrities would have headed for a recovery program in Malibu if they had slipped that derogatory toward a rival. Nowadays, things are different. Pagan (the word is from the Latin paganus, which was the Roman way to say "hick," or "redneck")is not slang; it is the noun that denotes a heathen, or one who has little or no religion and who delights in sensual pleasures and material goods; an irreligious or hedonistic person.
    So, here we go again. Is it a conspiracy? Has the ACLU bagged a bunch of the faulty coins to sell at a $199/unit profit, to fund their "let's get God outta here!" initiatives? Conservative blogger Tony Phyrillas writes, "Has the ACLU and the militant atheists infiltrated the US Mint?" Brian Rooney, from the Thomas More Law Center - who dedicate themselves to "defend the religious freedom and family values of Christians" - says, "We are a Christian nation. We're more Christian than Israel is Jewish, than India is Hindu... We shouldn't be afraid of the fact that the United States is a Christian nation..." Are we, really?
    George Barna notes that less than 5% of the Americans polled by his firm were people who reported a personal relationship with Jesus Christ AND demonstrated a "biblical worldview." (Biblical worldview? The 10 "markers" for a biblical worldview include "minor" issues like believing in moral absolutes, believing that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God, that Jesus committed no sins while on earth, and other "trivial" matters). "We are a Christian nation..." What, exactly, does that mean?
    I guess I'm too much a stickler for the details. When I compare the definition of a pagan (above) to the most common definition of an evangelical Christian (belief in the authority of the Scriptures, the necessity of conversion, and the responsibility of the Great Commission - to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all who are outside of the Christian faith), I find America - today - more pagan than Christian.
    So, should our coins say "IN NOTHING WE TRUST"? Is our biggest problem what isn't written on our coins, or is it what isn't written on our hearts?
    A wise mentor of mine warned me, when I was a young man: "Bob, you'll only win about seven battles in life. My advice: choose those battles carefully. Ask yourself: 'Is this the hill you want to die on to win?'" Jesus didn't die to beat the Romans; he died to achieve victory over sin. Mission: accomplished.

Bob Shank


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