Fox viewers put Minnesota senators on blast; probably not what Jesus would do

Dan Hall wants schools to be able to display "In God We Trust." When fellow senators objected, viewers of Fox & Friends got in touch with their inner savage.

Dan Hall wants schools to be able to display "In God We Trust." When fellow senators objected, viewers of Fox & Friends got in touch with their inner savage. Mathieu Turle on

On May 1, Sen. Dan Hall (R-Burnsville) stood before the Minnesota Senate to introduce an amendment allowing schools to display the words “In God We Trust.”

This was all about respect, said Hall, who declined to comment on this story. He was disturbed by "a growing lack of respect... Towards our country, towards our parents and teachers. Disrespect for the police, for our military, even our elected officials.”

None of this would have flown in his day. But by putting up a little “In God We Trust,” we might just bring a little deference back to “God and country.”

Democratic Senator Scott Dibble of Minneapolis took issue with Hall's assertion that the United States was somehow founded on a bedrock of religion. It wasn’t, he said, for it was specifically founded on the bedrock of nobody being able to tell anyone what to believe in, or whether to believe at all. 

He punctuated that by offering his own amendment, replacing the word “God” with “Yahweh” -- the Jewish version of God -- and asked Hall what he thought.

Hall thought “God” worked better, since it was more “generic.” 

Dibble later countered that “God” isn’t “generic.” It’s Christian and European, which is not the same thing. He offered another amendment, changing the phrase to “In Krishna we trust.” Wouldn’t Hindu schoolchildren feel a bit more comfortable with that?

Hall thought they’d feel pretty much the same.

Dibble fired off another amendment. How about “Ohm?”

Well, why not remove “God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, if that’s your attitude, Hall said.

How about “Gitche Manitou?” “Wakan Tanka?”

Hall dismissed these suggestions.

A bevy of senators spoke out against the amendment between Dibble’s counter-amendments. Senator Melisa Franzen (D-Edina) thought the whole thing was mostly good fodder for a lawsuit. Separation of church and state, and whatnot.

Hall refuted that, too. This isn’t about religion, he said -- “In God We Trust” is our national motto. It’s our heritage. It’s even on our money.

It’s true, “In God We Trust” is our national motto, but it’s only been around since 1956, as a replacement for its unofficial motto, e pluribus unum -- “out of many, one.”

Senator John Marty (D-Roseville) argued that it wasn’t respectful to promote one religion or another. The son of a minister and a devout Christian, Marty wanted to be "respectful and fair to people who don’t have any religion, and people who believe in a different religion.” 

The amendment passed, 38 to 29, but that wasn’t the end of it.

The following Sunday, Marty went to church, arriving home to a bevy of voicemails laced with obscenities, calling him “anti-religion.”

"I find it offensive that faggots like you find this motto offensive," one email read.

"I hope someone puts a bullet right in your head. Keep your god problems to your faggot loving self. Your a piece of shit homo. Go lick your lovers feces hole," another read.

It turned out that after the scuffle on the Senate floor, Hall had gone on Fox and Friends. Marty was now hearing from the conservative channel's faithful. 

“They don’t want it that much in their schools? I can’t imagine that. That’s not how I grew up,” Hall said on the air. He worried that by getting religion and “the things that are respectful” out of government, Minnesota would be leaving room for them to be replaced by “something else,” though he didn't elaborate on what that might be. 

“There seems to be an anti-faith movement in our country to suppress anything that is religious in any way and wipe it out of government,” Hall said. “I’m here to tell you we need to bring respect back to our country, and religious freedom. We are one of the great countries of religious freedom. That’s why people come here.”

Some of the outrage played out on Twitter, pegging Marty as an atheist.

“They have no idea about any of my religious beliefs,” Marty says.

Dibble wasn’t spared the brunt of the Fox and Friends blast either.

“That’s triggered some of the most disgusting phone calls and emails and Facebook messages toward me,” he says, “all in the name of Jesus.”

"What the fuck is Dibble talking about and John Marty? Another fucking cock sucker," one voicemail said. It went on to say that if the caller had read correctly and Dibble was in fact married to a man (he is), he'd be going to hell.

"You guys are fucked up. If what you like to do is suck dick then leave the rest of the country alone and do something about that dumb fuck Keith Ellision."

His Twitter mentions weren't looking so good either. 

Someone called to tell him “If I ever see you on the street, I’ll break all the bones in your body.”

“Because you know, Jesus was all about that,” Dibble says.

Dibble said he couldn’t speak to Hall’s motivations for pushing this amendment. But if his intentions were really to give schools the option of posting a unifying nod to some central spiritual heritage, he says, he only succeeded in nodding to a really Christian version of it.

“It amounts to some degree of religious chauvinism and Christian dominance,” Dibble says. And it harkens back to the days when President Eisenhower could declare “In God We Trust” the nation’s motto. A day when “respect” only flowed in one specific direction.