In God We Trust
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“”In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash
The motto has been challenged several times in its history, and each time it has been ruled that the inclusion of the phrase on U.S. currency has nothing to do with the establishment of religion. However, most
people with a basic understanding of the meaning of words Americans do regard the message as a religious one.
It is also the motto of the U.S. state of Florida.
A law signed by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 replaced the previous motto, e pluribus unum ("Out of many, one"), with this one. In a period of profound tension related to the Cold War, it helped solidify Western capitalism as God's alternative to communist atheism.
Advocacy for its use predated this law and can be found as far back as the American Civil War. A campaign initiated by a group of Protestant denominations in 1861 petitioned the Treasury Department to include a statement recognizing God on U.S. coinage. The first piece of U.S. money to bear the motto "In God we Trust" was the bronze 2-cent piece of 1864. The intent behind this was to prove once and for all to the Confederacy, that God was on the side of the Union: however, a reading of God's favorite book could possibly be interpreted to suggest otherwise.
A lot of Americans are probably afraid that if the motto were changed or removed,
they would no longer be able to render unto Caeser that which is God's (Matthew 22:21) the country would be turned into a godless, sex-crazed, low-crime welfare state like Sweden. Americans believe that these mere words can protect them from everything, including school shootings. By enacting a bill allowing the phrase "In God We Trust" on their schools, for instance, Americans then believe that these words, indulging in rank pseudohistory regarding the birth of the U.S., will magically transform every shooter's hearts and thus end school shootings altogether. Seriously, this sort of bill has happened in Florida in the wake of the 2018 Parkland shooting, and the bill's sponsor, Kimberly Daniels, is a Democrat.
Some Americans argue that the motto is just fine because it does not place value on one religious sect over another. For the apparent minority of Americans who belong to no religious sect at all, worship several gods, or are part of a religion without a god or one whose god goes by a different name, sucks to be you! Then again, given how our brains typically don't focus on the details of common items such as coinage it's not that huge an imposition either.
The constitutionality of the motto was challenged in the 1970 Federal Court case Aronow v. United States (432 F.2d at 243). The Ninth Circuit ruled that "It is quite obvious that the national motto and the slogan on coinage and currency 'In God We Trust' has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion. Its use is of patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no true resemblance to a governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise." Never mind, of course, that Eisenhower specifically said that was why he had it added to the Pledge of Allegiance.
Opposition to changing U.S. coinage
In 1907, the U.S. mint issued a new design for the $20 gold piece, known as the St. Gaudens Double Eagle. President Teddy Roosevelt specifically ordered that the coin not bear the words "In God We Trust", because he felt that putting God on our money was irreverent. Public sentiment vehemently opposed this, however, and before the year was out the coin was redesigned to have "In God We Trust" on it.
In 2007, the U.S. mint issued the first in a long line of 1-dollar coins bearing the likenesses of every president the country has ever had, starting with George Washington. These coins had "In God We Trust" on the rim (along with "E Pluribus Unum", the year, and the mint mark), rather than on one of the faces. A highly vocal minority who were too lazy to look at the coins edge-on thought that the motto had been removed entirely, and demanded that the government stop "phasing God out of America." Congress changed the specs for the coins in 2008, and the motto started appearing on the front of the coins in 2009 to appease the loons.
The US is not the only country to put some reference to God on national symbols, just let the following examples sink in
Nicaragua (at the time in undeclared war against the US)
Brazil — the phrase translates to "God be praised"
- Christians created it, but Muslims like it too!
- "Why "In God We Trust" Should Be Removed - Freedom From Religion Foundation."
- In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd (1966) Doubleday
- See the Wikipedia article on Aronow v. United States.
- See the Wikipedia article on Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow.
- Held, A. (February 22, 2018). "Florida Lawmakers Advance Bill Requiring Schools To Display 'In God We Trust'" NPR. Retrieved March 11, 2018.
- Snopes article "Historic Change"