RNS-May 28 INGODWETRUST, The phrase, ""In God we trust," first appeared on U.S. coins in 1864, Creative Commons photo by Bhaskar Peddhapati

The phrase “In God we trust” first appeared on U.S. coins in 1864. Creative Commons photo by Bhaskar Peddhapati


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[Eds: The word "tenant" in the 10th paragraph is in the original document.]

(RNS) Atheists lost their case against the “In God We Trust” motto on the nation’s currency Wednesday (May 28).

It’s a battle they have lost several times before, as court after court has affirmed that printing and engraving the country’s motto on its money does not violate the U.S. Constitution.

The plaintiffs, a group that included humanists and minor children, argued before a federal appeals court that the words amount to a government endorsement of religion, disallowed by the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. They further held that, forced to carry around a religious statement in their pockets and pocketbooks, their constitutionally guaranteed right to freely exercise religion is being violated.

But the three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York noted that the courts have long looked at the motto not so much as the entanglement of government in religion, but as a more general statement of optimism and a “reference to the country’s religious heritage.”

The decision in Newdow v. United States of America pleased those who have worked to protect religious expression in the public sphere. “Americans need not be forced to abandon their religious heritage simply to appease someone’s animosity toward anything that references God,” said Rory Gray of the Alliance Defending Freedom.

But it frustrated those who see religion creeping into places where they believe church and state should be separated. The group American Atheists, which was not a party to the suit, said the court’s reasoning — based on historical acceptance of the motto — is faulty.

“Tradition is a terrible excuse for any behavior,” said American Atheists spokesman David Muscato. “If we allowed ‘tradition’ to guide our views, what else would we uphold — slavery, denying the vote to women?”

“The simple fact is that ‘In God We Trust’ has no rightful place on currency in the United States, a country with separation of church and state, and it never has,” he continued.

Atheists have seen a spate of unfavorable rulings lately. Last week a federal court in Kentucky rejected atheists’ suit against the IRS, for the many breaks and privileges it offers churches and religious organizations. And in the 5-4 Greece v. Galloway ruling earlier this month, the Supreme Court affirmed that government bodies may convene meeting with highly sectarian prayers.

The 2nd Circuit also questioned the atheists’ objection to money that forces them “to bear on their persons … a statement that attributes to them personally a perceived falsehood that is the antithesis of the central tenant of their religious system.” The atheists had reminded the court that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act requires the government to prove that it has gone to great pains to avoid so burdening religious expression.

“We respectfully disagree that appellants have identified a substantial burden upon their religious practices or beliefs,” the judges responded.

YS/MG END MARKOE

 

51 Comments

  1. This country is such a disgrace in the many ways it increasingly defies its founding constitution whose framers so wisely knew their history and understood the evil that always arises when religion and government are mixed. The Obama administration and our current Catholic Supreme Court are as guilty as any offender in history.

    Maintaining a separation between church and state by making “no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” is a mutual protection for religion and government. It protects those who wish to practice religion as well as those who want to be free of religion, a double-edged sword.

    In the case of elected officials, it’s a matter of being deceitful and catering to illiterate masses only for votes, the masses who don’t even know about separation of church and state so they will vote for them. In the case of federal judges who are appointed for life, it is a matter of defying the law they are supposed to uphold and practicing their own religious politics like Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito.

    • Quote: “The Obama administration and our current Catholic Supreme Court are as guilty as any offender in history.”

      I really have to laugh. I mean, really. All these precedents guaranteeing the presence of expressions of faith in the public sphere were made when the Supreme Court was a Protestant club but now, “the Catholic Supreme Court” is somehow to blame for upholding the precedent!

      You don’t like I bring me religious conscience to bear in public matters? Suck it up. I am not going anywhere.

      ~Theo

    • Agree mostly, but as an atheist, I really don’t care about the motto. I consider it harmless relative to other issues. For example, stop the encroachment of Creationism into the science class once and for all, and I’ll consider readdressing trivialities like the motto.Other far less “conservative” courts have reached the same conclusion- it’s not the slam dunk you think it is if you research the history of the legal oppostion. We need to pick our battles.

      If you must still fight it, I’d play around with the concept that putting “God” on money could be considered sacrilegious.

      Also,Teddy Roosevelt didn’t like the idea, and that should be good enough for anyone. ;-)

      • The only encroachment there is is the incessant nature of an atheist who drools lies about how God is not real. You do not hold the POWER to know if God exists or not. How many times do I have to say that nonbelievers are utterly cut off from the TRUTH about Jesus.
        An atheist not being able to read the Signs of Times is like a person who doesn’t know how to read and understand a simple book.
        All the false people who try to turn peoples hearts are encroachment enough, with their false religions(by the way Christianity is not a religion, it’s a fact), denominations, agencies, gangs, affiliations, organizations, mobs, cohorts, etc.. All religions are fake, and the only TRUTH is God, the FATHER, in Jesus Christ’s name, through the Holy Spirit.

  2. This country is such a disgrace in the many ways it increasingly defies its founding constitution whose framers so wisely knew their history and understood the evil that always arises when religion and government are mixed. The Obama administration and our current Jewish Supreme Court are as guilty as any offender in history. (concur with edits)

    Maintaining a separation between church and state by making “no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” is a mutual protection for religion and government. It protects those who wish to practice religion as well as those who want to be free of religion, a double-edged sword. (concur)

    In the case of elected officials, too many pretend to religion (usually Christianity) to secure votes. . In the case of federal judges who are appointed for life, it is a matter of imposing their own liberal religious philosophies upon the Constitution: like Ginsberg, Breyer, Kagan. (concur with edits)

  3. Carol Compton

    What these atheists don’t get, is the fact that most people came here to escape religious persecution from king Henry the vlll and the constitution was meant to give religious freedom, not take it away

  4. If “In God we Trust” is so important why did the founders not institute it in our monies and why was “Under God” not incorporated into the Pledge of Allegiance until 1954? All this is nothing more than right wing religious revisionism. If doing without all the religious symbolism was good enough for the founders it is good enough for me. I am surprised the right doesn’t agree, all you hear from them is how important the founders intentions were when they wrote the Constitution and LATTER ON the Bill of Rights.

    • Forrest, early American history is wreathing with religious beliefs; mostly Christian. John Adams is quoted to saying, “Our constitution is designed for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other.” Ben Franklin was extremely religious. Just look up some of the quotes taken from him, e.g. “I believe in one God, the creator of the universe. That He governs it by His providence.” The question you pose about “In God We Trust” on our money and “Under God” in the pledge and why didn’t the founding fathers of this country incorporate those words. That’s simple. God’s existence was highly reverenced and understood; such that it did not need to be restated on money or pledges. Men and women of early America did not question God as our creator and as the creator of natural law. As we went through history up to today, our society has become more and more paganistic; drifting further and further from God. Some saw this and decided that we needed to be reminded with “In God We Trust” and “One Nation,Under God”. It’s too bad that you don’t to see God woven into our society, Forrest. Because it looks like you really need plenty of reminders. You WILL face Him some day. We all will face God some day. Hopefully, Forrest, you will be prepared.

      • You’re extremely delusional. We will face nothing when death comes. We will return to the nothingness from which we came. What scientific evidence do you have to think otherwise. Just enjoy this life. Be good because it makes the world a better place for all of us including you.

    • I agree. They believe in God just like Satan believes in God and like Satan they just don’t love Him. They believe trust me. Otherwise why would they care so much?

      • Smartest thing said yet Shortcake…They do believe…No such thing as an atheist, its just blatant disbelief because they don’t agree with the scriptures. Even Satan believes in God. Interesting how in the time of crisis or near death experience everyone including “atheist” yell out “Oh My God” not because its just a saying but because its embedded in your DNA. Have fun being in denial.

    • I do look forward to the day when the majority of the world frees itself from delusion, but I don’t hate something that doesn’t exist. I just hate the poison that religion is to the world. You can write god all over yourself and carry it on signs wherever you go if you feel the need to air your dirty laundry. How does it harm you to go back to not having it on the money like before 1864? Back in the days when religion was better kept out of our federal government.

      • @scott but as an anti-theist, how does it harm you to have it there? is it that big of a deal that you want all of the current money to be taken out of circulation and replaced with new money? there are far greater things that the government is here for than to have atheists in their courts everyday attempting to replace every other religion with their own. being an atheist requires just as much faith as being a Christian because you can not disprove a God.

        atheists are focusing on all of the wrong things. you can choose to disbelieve, that is your constitutional right, and no one is going to take that away from you, but there are homeless people, starving people, innocent people facing death daily, and all atheists seem to care about are the mentionings of God in public places in our free country where you are more rich than the majority of the entire earth. What more can you ask for than for equality to be reached? But what you fail to understand is that you are bringing more inequality to the table when you are attempting to make your beliefs the only ones acceptable in the government.

      • So you object to God being on the money, because in your opinion (unproven and unprovable) He doesn’t exist?

        Would you object to a gryphon, dragon or other mythical creature being on our currency? They don’t exist. Would that bother you?

        We don’t speak Latin in this country, and never have, although it is popular with Catholics, I hear. Latin was a dead language by the time this country was founded, does it bother you that a language used by no nation on earth (aside from Vatican City) is on our currency?

        How about that pryamid on the back of the dollar? We’re not Egyptian, and that structure had religious significance to Egyptians, right? Bug you much, seeing that on the bill?

        You, and to a much greater degree those twits mentioned in this article, are being very selective in your criticism, cherry-picking the targets of your alleged outrage, focusing on that which, deep down, you know to be true, but simply can’t accept due to your own insecurities.

      • Scott e, my friend, firstly this is something i have always wanted to ask a “God basher”, if you don’t believe in anything why do you bother? why do atheists make such a big deal about something “that doesnt exist”? i dont believe in aliens so i don’t talk about it i dont waste my energy on it, yet you find it necessary to try to convince us that there is no God. I have one explanation for this, YOU DO, because if you didnt you wouldn’t try to convince yourself. i want you to please remember every word you write and every blasphemous word you speak, when every eye sees and every tongue confesses that Jesus is Lord (the bible says even Satan will bow down and admit it) i want you to remember what i am telling you. When you realize how wrong you are you will be reminded of everything and it will be too late. Without God you wouldn’t even be here, yet he sent his Son to die for people that are so full of hate because he loves us, yet 2000 years later we still spit in his face. I pray for your soul. He’s at the door mate…

  5. It is my understanding that the Constitution states that the USG will not impose any government owned religion on it’s citizens as England did, but that we are feel to worship as we please.
    No one is forcing anyone to carry money around, with a motto that is not liked. At the same time if the currency said something like “Who’s your Daddy” would they see that as religious because Daddy is in capitals. Try living without it and see how far you get. Who violation who’s religious rights. I don’t think atheism is a religion. You basically have to have something to belief in to be a religion, right?
    I for one am most bothered about touching dirty, filthy, and “don’t know who has touched it, and where it has been before I got” money”, Then what’s written on.
    Get over it, will ya!

  6. This is no victory for believers in God or a defeat for atheists.
    It’s about money.
    Money is sacred.
    Even those who care nothing for religious rights and the constitution, will defend God’s name when it is used as a protection for their money. It’s less of belief in God, than it is a form of secular superstition. They aren’t willing to remove God’s name from the money for fear of losing it.
    The real issues in defense of religious freedom, is and always will be the God-given right to believe and to practice our faith with freely.

  7. You poor athiest people, dont you know you are rejecting love itself when you reject God, and when love is rejected all that is left in your heart is hate and intolerance of all things good.

  8. This is another victory for religious liberty. The other two in the last couple of weeks was the ruling that the words ‘under God’ in the pledge to the U.S. Flag doesn’t violate the constitution, and that it doesn’t violate the constitution to open municipal council meetings with Christian prayer.

  9. Another incorrect interpretation of church and state law by atheists, who need to wake up to reality., The law says that the state cannot begin or establlish a religion, it does not say we cannot have an acknowledgement on our money that there is a Supreme Being or God, who is the reason this country was established in the first place.

    • That is correct – No state run relgion is to be established. Also correct about there being no real athiest. Just go into battle with a professed athiest and see how quick they pray & beg when the stuff hits the fan.

    • Hindus have many gods. A belief in one supreme being is specific to a subset of religious beliefs. So putting such an acknowledgement on money is establishing a subset of religions. It simply does not belong on this countries money or motto.

      • “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

        Now, it seems pretty obvious to me that this is stating that the government can’t make a law that affects the creation of a religion, nor can they prohibit people from exercising their religious beliefs.

        You will need to demonstrate how acknowledging God’s existence is somehow creating a religion, which I doubt you can do. Acknowledging something is not the same as making a law regarding that thing.

  10. Dear little atheists, please accept the fact that God is a fact. Those that reject the concept of God reject science since science clearly states that the entire original matter and energy are contingent things. Contingent things owe their existence to that which is non contingent and that non contingent thing is God. So the motto in God we trust is a perfect express of scientific proof of how all matter and energy came into existence. Religion on the other hand try’s to explain what God is and that is personal opinion based on personal revelation and any motto based on personal revelation would be a violation of church and state. The motto in God we trust in no way attempts to explain God based on personal revelation and therefore is a purely scientific based statement void of religion and therefore fit to be on our currency.

    • Very funny. You have some interesting ‘scientific’ beliefs little believer. It really is not surprising the rich and powerful want to have in god we trust on money. They want the masses to have blind faith in the money just like they do in god.

  11. I never ceased to be amazed at how many atheists and nonbelievers read and comment on religious news. If you don’t believe in God or an eternity of happiness, why aren’t you out having fun instead of wasting time spewing hate on the internet. The ancients had a motto “Let’s eat, drink, and be merry, because tomorrow we die. Like them, get out and have some fun while you can. It sounds like many of you are crying out for something you don’t have that you have been deeply hurt in the past or have been unloved. I am truly sorry for you. Have you ever tried to find out if there is a God, someone who loves you with an unconditional love? Someone who can give you the joy the world cannot give you. Try Jesus.Challenge him to reveal himself to you. And wait. Like your mother when she wanted you to eat a new vegetable: “Try it. You may like it.”

    • Been there done that. If you’re feeling loved it’s you that’s doing it. Why do you need to believe there is a god to feel the love you are actually creating in your own mind? Your religious beliefs are infringing on my rights and others by their influence on our laws making it harder for the rest of us to enjoy. Religion contributes to overpopulation and the spread of STDs. Granted the stupid US motto is not as big a deal, but it’s ridiculous that our government is endorsing a religious belief. How about we change it to in Allah we trust or in Zeus we trust. And some don’t dare speak or write the word G_d because they don’t presume to know what is taking it in vain. Why should they have to carry such offensive stuff on their money. By the way, sometimes your only choice is to use cash. Per JFK the separation of church and state should be absolute! He was absolutely right.

      • You’re hilarious. By the way, as the mythical story goes it seems like Satan got a bad rap. Would you think a motto of “in nothing we trust” is a good one. That’s how I hear it. God bless you!

      • I got a good laugh reading your post…

        “Religion contributes to overpopulation and the spread of STDs.”

        Now that’s rich. Religion, Christianity at least, teaches abstinence before marriage, no sex outside marriage, personal responsibility, etc. How, exactly, does that contribute to the spread of STD’s, and overpopulation? Please be as specific as possible, if you don’t mind.

        As for “endorsing a religious belief”, well, atheism is a religious belief as well, isn’t it? You can argue that it’s the absence of any belief, but the fact of the matter is, you, as an atheist, believe that God does not exist. That’s a religious belief.

        Why is it most atheists seem so sensitive to any mention of God in the first place? I don’t see you protesting Christmas, or Santa Claus. Those are religious statements. When was the last time the FFR sued over the White House Christmas tree? And just for fun, what religion would they be protesting, anyway? The whole festival of Christmas (and Easter, by the way) is pagan in origin, so…does that make it okay, or you hate all religions (aside from yours) with equal fervor?

        Just curious, you understand.

  12. R, L. Hails Sr. (P.E. ret.)

    No thinking citizen believes this struggle is ended.

    It may be fruitful to reiterate that “the wall separating church and state” is not in our Constitution; it is contained in writings by Jefferson and Supreme Court rulings. Implicit in that concept is a fact known to any brick mason; Every wall has a top course above which the air flows freely back and forth.

    Our eternal argument is the height of the wall. Atheists want it infinitely high. The Church of England does not want one course; they get tax money. Americans fought a war over this; we would not, do not, tolerate our tax money to fund any purely religious activity imposed by the state. It is a stretch to claim words on a coin does this. The argument is whether religious people can bring their religious practices outside of their church. I, a Catholic, see no problem paying tax money to a rabbi to teach algebra to kids. I would object paying tax money to a priest to preach at Sunday Mass.

    This struggle will not be over until people’s hearts are changed. We have a long way to go.

  13. bad move……. the fed is a private company own by Britton over lords in god we trust mob….
    so you cant stop that….. yet now they now believe its ok….. a real bad fight you took on….
    god dogma
    like is it in god we trust or should it be in the public we trust to contest
    on a court house logo… congress can make no laws in respect of religion….yet grant the right to the public to contest….
    each produce a different view of respect

    is the court verdict directive for a god or is it for the public… can the court contest god words yet the verdict direction is about dogma… your not a good god believer so the verdict direction is in god we trust…. and to have that you need man of god to check your faith as a verdict…..a god knower
    the letter of the law

    yet the court house is bound to uphold the constitution…..
    in the public we trust to contest
    your in breach of a law yet have the right to contest it even have it strike down as a law….. its not a sharia law system where god knowers are granted the right to direct the verdict in god we trust…. your now a house of worship not a house of law to uphold the constitution…..

    just more perversion to create a sharia law mob system….

    here is one for you….. contest the logo in god we trust…. how can you render verdict if your in breach of the constitution….. so now the court house is invalid to even render a verdict… its now a house of worship not a house of civil law

  14. Donald DeCamp

    The constitution says that Congress shall pass no law regarding the establishmeent of religeon. I cant see where
    congress has passed any law in his case. Or many others regarding separation of church and state, which is not a law at all

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