In God We Trust

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"IN GOD WE TRUST" on the Flag of Florida

" In God We Trust " is the official motto of the United States of America, Nicaragua, and of the U.S. state of Florida. It was adopted as the nation's motto in 1956 as a replacement or alternative to the unofficial motto of E pluribus unum, which was adopted when the Great Seal of the United States was created and adopted in 1782. [4] [5]

"In God We Trust" first appeared on the two-cent piece in 1864 [6] and has appeared on paper currency since 1957. A law passed in a Joint Resolution by the 84th Congress (P.L. 84-140) and approved by President Dwight Eisenhower on July 30, 1956, declared "In God We Trust" must appear on American currency. This phrase was first used on paper money in 1957, when it appeared on the one-dollar silver certificate. The first paper currency bearing the phrase entered circulation on October 1, 1957. [6] The 84th Congress later passed legislation (P.L. 84-851), also signed by President Eisenhower on July 30, 1956, declaring the phrase to be the national motto. [7] [8]

Some groups and people have expressed objections to its use, citing its religious reference that violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. [9] These groups believe the phrase should be removed from currency and public property. In lawsuits, this argument has so far not overcome the interpretational doctrine of accommodationism, which allows government to endorse religious establishments as long as they are all treated equally. According to a 2003 joint poll by USA Today, CNN, and Gallup, 90% of Americans support the inscription "In God We Trust" on U.S. coins. [10]

In 2006, "In God We Trust" was designated as the motto of the U.S. state of Florida. [11] [12] Its Spanish equivalent, En Dios Confiamos, is the motto of the Republic of Nicaragua. [4]

History

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Salmon P. Chase, Treasury Secretary, scribes "In God is Our Trust," scratches out "is Our" and overwrites "We" to arrive at "In God We Trust" in a December 9, 1863, letter to James Pollock, Director of the Philadelphia Mint. [4]
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" IN GOD WE TRUST " first appeared on the obverse side of the Two-cent piece in 1864 [6]

In 1860, the phrase was used in the Coat of arms of New Westminster, Canada. The phrase has been included in many hymns and religious-patriotic songs. During the American Civil War, the 125th Pennsylvania Infantry for the Union Army assumed the motto "In God we trust" in early August 1862. [4] [4] [4] William W. Wallace, coiner, circa August 1862, of the motto "In God We Trust" was Captain of Company C of the 125th Pennsylvania Infantry.

The Reverend Mark R. Watkinson of 'Ridleyville', Pennsylvania, (pastor of Prospect Hill Baptist Church in present-day Prospect Park, Pennsylvania) in a letter dated November 13, 1861, petitioned the Treasury Department to add a statement recognizing " Almighty God in some form on our coins" in order to "relieve us from the ignominy of heathenism". [15] At least part of the motivation was to declare that God was on the Union side of the Civil War. Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase acted on this proposal and directed the then-Philadelphia Director of the Mint, James Pollock, to begin drawing up possible designs that would include the religious phrase. Chase chose his favorite designs and presented a proposal to Congress for the new designs in late 1863. [5]

In December 1863, Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury decided on a new motto, "In God We Trust," to engrave on U.S. coins. Lincoln's involvement in this decision is unclear. [5]

A version of the motto made an early appearance on obverse side of the twenty dollar interest bearing note issued in 1864 along with the motto "God and our Right".

As Chase was preparing his recommendation to Congress, it was found that the Act of Congress dated January 18, 1837 prescribed the mottoes and devices that should be placed upon the coins of the United States. This meant that the mint could make no changes without the enactment of additional legislation by the Congress. Such legislation was introduced and passed as the Coinage Act of 1864 on April 22, 1864, allowing the Secretary of the Treasury to authorize the inclusion of the phrase on one-cent and two-cent coins.

An Act of Congress passed on March 3, 1865, allowed the Mint Director, with the Secretary's approval, to place the motto on all gold and silver coins that "shall admit the inscription thereon". [18] In 1873, Congress passed the Coinage Act, granting that the Secretary of the Treasury "may cause the motto IN GOD WE TRUST to be inscribed on such coins as shall admit of such motto".

The similar phrase 'In God is our Trust' appears in " The Star-Spangled Banner ", adopted as the national anthem of the United States in 1931. Written by Francis Scott Key during the War of 1812, the fourth stanza includes the phrase, "And this be our motto: 'In God is our Trust'", which was adapted as the national motto. [5]

The use of "In God We Trust" has been interrupted. The motto disappeared from the five-cent coin in 1883, and did not reappear until production of the Jefferson nickel began in 1938. However, at least two other coins minted in every year in the interim still bore the motto, including the Morgan dollar and the Seated Liberty half dollar. The omission of the motto "In God We Trust" on the Indian Head eagle coin caused public outrage, and prompted Congress to pass a bill mandating its inclusion. Mint Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber added the words and made minor modifications to the design. In 1908, Congress made it mandatory that the phrase be printed on all coins upon which it had previously appeared. This decision was motivated after a public outcry following the release of a $20 coin which did not bear the motto. [5] The motto has been in continuous use on the one-cent coin since 1909, and on the ten-cent coin since 1916. It also has appeared on all gold coins and silver dollar coins, half-dollar coins, and quarter-dollar coins struck since July 1, 1908. Since 1938, all US coins have borne the motto. [6]

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A quarter dollar with the United States' official motto " IN GOD WE TRUST " on the obverse side

During the Cold War era, the government of the United States sought to distinguish itself from the Soviet Union, which promoted state atheism and thus implemented antireligious legislation. [5] The 84th Congress passed a joint resolution "declaring IN GOD WE TRUST the national motto of the United States". The resolution passed both the House and the Senate unanimously and without debate. [5] [5] The law was signed by President Eisenhower on July 30, 1956. [5] The United States Code at 36 U.S.C., now states: "'In God we trust' is the national motto."

The same day, the President signed into law a requirement that "In God We Trust" be printed on all U.S. currency and coins. On paper currency, it first appeared on the silver certificate in 1957, followed by other certificates. Federal Reserve Notes and United States Notes were circulated with the motto starting from 1964 to 1966, depending on the denomination. [23] (Of these, only Federal Reserve Notes are still circulated.)

Representative Charles Edward Bennett of Florida cited the Cold War when he introduced the bill in the House, saying "In these days when imperialistic and materialistic communism seeks to attack and destroy freedom, we should continually look for ways to strengthen the foundations of our freedom". [24]

Aronow v. United States was the first case to challenge the inclusion of "In God We Trust" on U.S. currency. [25] The law it challenged was "31 U.S.C. § 324a "the inscription 'In God we Trust'...shall appear on all United States currency and coins". [25] O'Hair v. Blumenthal (1978) challenged the inclusion of the phrase "In God We Trust" on U.S. currency. A similar decision was reached by the Fifth Circuit in Madalyn Murray O'Hair vs W. Michael Blumenthal in 1979, which affirmed that the "primary purpose of the slogan was secular." [26]

In March 2001, Governor of Mississippi Ronnie Musgrove signed legislation requiring the motto "In God We Trust" to be displayed in every public school classroom, as well as the school auditoriums and cafeterias, throughout the state. [28] [29]

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A framed poster displaying the national motto of the United States in a New Philadelphia High School classroom

After the September 11 attacks in 2001, many public schools across the United States posted "In God We Trust" framed posters in their "libraries, cafeterias and classrooms". The American Family Association supplied several 11-by-14-inch posters to school systems and vowed to defend any legal challenges to the displaying of the posters. [30]

According to a 2003 joint poll by USA Today, CNN, and Gallup, 90% of Americans support the inscription "In God We Trust" on U.S. coins. [10]

In 2006, on the 50th anniversary of its adoption, the Senate reaffirmed "In God We Trust" as the official national motto of the United States of America. [31] In Florida House Bill no. 1145, Florida adopted 'In God We Trust' as the official state motto, effective July 1, 2006. [11] [12]

In 2011 the House of Representatives passed an additional resolution reaffirming "In God We Trust" as the official motto of the United States, in a 396–9 vote. [32] [33]

In 2013, a federal court rejected a challenge, brought by Michael Newdow and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, to remove "In God We Trust" from American currency. [7]

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" IN GOD WE TRUST " on the Seal of Mississippi

On January 31, 2014, purporting to defend religious freedom, the Mississippi senate voted to add the words, "In God We Trust" to the state seal and the change was made effective on July 1, 2014. [5] [7]

In 2015 the county police department of Jefferson County, Illinois announced that the words "In God We Trust" will be on police squad cars. [7] In 2015, the Freedom from Religion Foundation demanded that local authorities remove decals of the motto from Childress, Texas Police Department patrol vehicles. In response, Police Chief Adrian Garcia told the organization, in a written letter, to "go fly a kite." [7]

In March 2017, Act 911, sponsored by State Rep. Jim Dotson, made it a requirement of Arkansas state law for schools to display posters with the national motto ("In God We Trust"). [7] [7]

In early 2018, Kimberly Daniels, a pastor [7] who currently serves as the representative for Florida House of Representatives District 14 as a member of the Democratic Party, introduced HB 839, a bill that requires public schools to display the motto "In God We Trust" in a conspicuous place. On Tuesday, January 23, 2018, the bill received unanimous approval from the House PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee. [7] Later, in a vote on February 21, 2018, the bill passed 97 to 10 in the House. [44] [45] As part of Florida's March 2018 K-12 education law, Gov. Rick Scott mandated that all public schools post the state motto ("In God We Trust") in a prominent location. [46]

In March 2018, a bill requiring Tennessee schools to prominently display the national motto ("In God We Trust") sponsored by Rep. Susan Lynn passed the state House with 81 of the 99 members voting in favor of it. [47]

Society and culture

Religion

In Judaism and Christianity, the official motto "In God We Trust" resounds with several verses from the Bible, including Proverbs 3:5, Psalm 118:8, Psalm 40:3, Psalm 73:28, and Proverbs 29:25. [48] Melkote Ramaswamy, a Hindu American scholar, writes that the presence of the phrase "In God We Trust" on American currency is a reminder that "there is God everywhere, whether we are conscious or not." [50]

  • In the 1994 film Miracle on 34th Street, just as Henry is about to make his decision, Susan walks up to him with a Christmas card containing a $1 bill. On the back, the words "In God We Trust" are circled. He realizes that, since the U.S. Department of Treasury can put its official faith in God with no hard evidence, then the people can believe in Santa in the same way. Left with no choice, an elated Henry dismisses the case and declares that Santa is real, existing in the person of Kris.
  • In the musical Hamilton, Aaron Burr says the line "My God! In God we trust, but we’ll never know what got discussed" in reaction to Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton making a deal.
  • An e-mail conspiracy theory is that "In God We Trust" was intentionally omitted from new U.S. dollar coins in 2007. [51] The first coins produced under the Presidential $1 Coin Program did indeed lack the "In God We Trust" inscription along their edges (along with the "E Pluribus Unum" inscription, the year of production, and the mint mark; these coins, unlike normal dollar coins, had completely blank edges), but these coins, known as " godless dollars ", were the result of a minting error, not a deliberate omission. [52] [54]
  • Marty Feldman's satirical comedy In God We Tru$t (1980).
  • The film They Live (1988) plays on the idea. Special sunglasses allow the wearers to see simple hidden messages instead of the signs they see without them. Advertising is seen as "OBEY", "CONSUME" and "MARRY AND REPRODUCE". Dollar bills are all marked "THIS IS YOUR GOD". [55]
  • In January 2006, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and his wife Jackie were offered a place on the Valentine's Day celebrity couples edition of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? They appeared on the show managing to reach the £1 million question, before answering it incorrectly and dropping from £500,000 all the way down to just £32,000 (a loss of £468,000). Llewelyn-Bowen and his wife claimed that the last question "didn't meet their standards". The allegedly misleading question was "Translated from the Latin, what is the motto of the United States?" The answer given was "In God We Trust" which is originally English and has in fact been the motto of the United States since 1956. The intended answer had been "One Out of Many" which is a translation of the Latin phrase E pluribus unum, which is not actually the current United States motto. E pluribus unum had been the de facto motto but was never legally declared as such. [56]

License plates

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" IN GOD WE TRUST " optional license plate designed by Troy Wingard for the South Carolina Department of Public Safety in 2002

As of April 1, 2016 the following U.S. states currently offer an "In God We Trust" license plate as a speciality plate for an additional normal vehicle registration processing which vary from state to state: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio[57], Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Florida (Which also offers a speciality plate) and Georgia which both display the county of issuance on their License Plate offer the option of "In God We Trust" in place of the County Name.

Criticism

Advocates of separation of church and state have questioned the legality of this motto asserting that it is a violation of the United States Constitution, prohibiting the government from passing any law respecting an establishment of religion. [58] Religious accommodationists state that this entrenched practice has not historically presented any constitutional difficulty, is not coercive, and does not prefer one religious denomination over another. [58]

"In God We Trust" as a national motto and on U.S. currency has been the subject of numerous unsuccessful lawsuits. [59] The motto was first challenged in Aronow v. United States in 1970, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled: "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." In Lynch v. Donnelly (1984), the Supreme Court wrote that acts of " ceremonial deism " are "protected from Establishment Clause scrutiny chiefly because they have lost through rote repetition any significant religious content". [60] In Zorach v. Clauson (1952), the Supreme Court also wrote that the nation's "institutions presuppose a Supreme Being" and that government recognition of God does not constitute the establishment of a state church as the Constitution's authors intended to prohibit. [61]

In November 2005, Michael Newdow announced he wants to have "In God We Trust" removed from U.S. coins and banknotes. In 2004, he received the special Recognition Freethought Hero Award for his case to remove "In God We Trust" from currency. [62] In a November 14, 2005 interview with Fox News's Neil Cavuto, Newdow compared "In God We Trust" appearing on United States currency with racial segregation (specifically separate drinking fountains), saying, "How can you not compare those? What is the difference there? Both of them [whites and blacks] got equal water. They both had access. It was government saying that it's okay to separate out these two people on the basis of race. Here we're saying it's okay to separate two people on the basis of their religious beliefs."

In June 2006, a federal judge rejected Newdow's Establishment Clause lawsuit on the grounds that the minted words amount to a secular national slogan, and do not dictate anyone's beliefs. Newdow stated that he would appeal the ruling, [63] although it should be noted that Aronow was decided on the same grounds in the Ninth Circuit and the lower court was required to return the same ruling, likewise the Ninth Circuit does not traditionally overrule previous Ninth Circuit rulings.

On December 4, 2007, Newdow argued before a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit to remove both "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance (Roe v. Rio Linda Union School District ), and "In God We Trust" from United States currency. [65] The Ninth Circuit rejected Newdow's challenge. In a decision published March 11, 2010, the court held that its earlier decision in Aronow, which "held the national motto is of a "patriotic or ceremonial character," has no "theological or ritualistic impact," and does not constitute "governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise," foreclosed Newdow's argument. [9] In an opinion concurring only in the judgment, even the extremely liberal Judge Stephen Reinhardt [9] agreed that Aronow was controlling precedent. [9]

Newdow v. Congress, 598 F.3d 638 (9th Cir. 2010) cert. denied 131 S. Ct. 1612 (U.S. 2011). AKA: The "In God We Trust Case" – A prominent atheist, Michael Newdow, filed a suit to declare the national motto – In God We Trust – unconstitutional and to have it removed from coins and currency. [70] [71] Pacific Justice Institute intervened as a defendant and defended against the suit. [70] [71] The case was dismissed by the trial court and the Ninth Circuit affirmed that decision. [70] [71]

In 2015, David F. Bauman dismissed a case against the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District brought by a student of the district and the American Humanist Association that argued that the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance created a climate of discrimination because it promoted religion, making non-believers "second-class citizens". [9] [9] He noted; "As a matter of historical tradition, the words 'under God' can no more be expunged from the national consciousness than the words 'In God We Trust' from every coin in the land, than the words 'so help me God' from every presidential oath since 1789, or than the prayer that has opened every congressional session of legislative business since 1787."

Aside from constitutional objections, President Theodore Roosevelt took issue with using the motto on coinage as he considered using God's name on money to be sacrilege. [9]

In September 2014, a proposal to add displays of "In God We Trust" on public property in Ballwin, Missouri was defeated following a plea to a meeting of aldermen by a local atheist. [9] [76]

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