There seems to be a great deal of confusion about "In God We Trust," which is the national motto of the United States. Blame it on our poor education system, activist judges or liberals not paying attention in social studies.
There seems to be a great deal of confusion about the words "In God We Trust," which is the official motto of the United States. Blame it on our poor education system, activist judges or liberals not paying attention in social studies.
The controversy was resurrected when it was revealed that the U.S. Mint released 50,000 of the new $1 coins without the national motto placed on the coins, as required by law.
You can debate the establishment clause of the First Amendment all you want, but there's no dispute that "In God We Trust" was designated the official motto of the U.S. in 1956 by an act of Congress.
President Bush issued a proclamation last year marking the 50th anniversary of the adoption of "In God We Trust" as our national motto.
(And interestingly enough, the words "In God We Trust" first appeared on U.S. currency as early as 1864.)
For those liberals who like to run to activist judges to circumvent the will of the majority, "In God We Trust" has been challenged by three lawsuits and has been found to be constitutional, according to a history of the national motto posted at www.religioustolerance.org.
Here are the relevant cases, according to the Web site, where courts ruled that the motto does not endorse religion:
* "Aronow v. United States," 432 F.2d 242 (1970) in the United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit The court 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."
* "Madalyn Murray O'Hair, et al. v. W. Michael Blumenthal, Secretary of Treasury, et al." 588 F.2d 1144 (1979) in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Ms. O'Hair is (in)famous for successfully challenging compulsory prayer in U.S. public schools. The United States District Court, Western District of Texas, referring to the wording of the Ninth Circuit above, ruled that:
"From this it is easy to deduce that the Court concluded that the primary purpose of the slogan was secular; it served as secular ceremonial purpose in the obviously secular function of providing a medium of exchange. As such it is equally clear that the use of the motto on the currency or otherwise does not have a primary effect of advancing religion."
This ruling was sustained by the Fifth Circuit court. 1
* The Freedom From Religion Foundation Inc. conducted a national survey that showed that "In God We Trust" was regarded as religious by an overwhelming percentage of U.S. citizens. They initiated a lawsuit on 1994-JUN-8 in Denver CO to have it removed from U.S. paper currency and coins. They also wanted it to be discontinued as the national motto. Their lawsuit was dismissed by the district Court without trial, on the grounds that "In God We Trust" is not a religious phrase! The Tenth-Circuit federal judge confirmed the dismissal, stating in part:
"...we find that a reasonable observer, aware of the purpose, context, and history of the phrase 'In God we trust,' would not consider its use or its reproduction on U.S. currency to be an endorsement of religion." 5
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review all of these rulings. It might be embarrassing to them, because the motto also hangs on the wall at the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has commented in passing on the motto saying that:
"[o]ur previous opinions have considered in dicta the motto and the pledge [of allegiance], characterizing them as consistent with the proposition that government may not communicate an endorsement of religious belief." Allegheny, 492 U.S.
Here is the text of the president's proclamation:
50th Anniversary of Our National Motto, "In God We Trust," 2006
A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America
On the 50th anniversary of our national motto, "In God We Trust," we reflect on these words that guide millions of Americans, recognize the blessings of the Creator, and offer our thanks for His great gift of liberty.
From its earliest days, the United States has been a Nation of faith. During the War of 1812, as the morning light revealed that the battle torn American flag still flew above Fort McHenry, Francis Scott Key penned, "And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust!'" His poem became our National Anthem, reminding generations of Americans to "Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation." On July 30, 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the law officially establishing "In God We Trust" as our national motto.
Today, our country stands strong as a beacon of religious freedom. Our citizens, whatever their faith or background, worship freely and millions answer the universal call to love their neighbor and serve a cause greater than self.
As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of our national motto and remember with thanksgiving God's mercies throughout our history, we recognize a divine plan that stands above all human plans and continue to seek His will.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim July 30, 2006, as the 50th Anniversary of our National Motto, "In God We Trust." I call upon the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-seventh day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand six, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-first.
Tony Phyrillas is a leading conservative political columnist and blogger based in Pennsylvania. He is a veteran journalist with 25 years experience as a reporter, editor and columnist for several newspapers. Phyrillas received recognition for column writing in 2010 from the Associated Press Managing Editors, in 2007 from Suburban Newspapers of America and in 2006 from the Society of Professional Journalists, Keystone Chapter. A graduate of Penn State University, Phyrillas is the city editor and political columnist for The Mercury, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning daily newspaper in Pottstown, Pa. In addition to The Mercury website (www.pottsmerc.com), his columns are featured on more than a dozen political websites and blogs. Phyrillas is a frequent guest (and occasional host) on talk radio and has been a panelist on the "Journalists Roundtable" public affairs TV program on the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN). Phyrillas was named one of the '10 Leading Greek-American Bloggers in the World' in 2007 by Odyssey: The World of Greece magazine. BlogNetNews.com ranked Phyrillas the Most Influential Political Blogger in Pennsylvania for three consecutive years (2007-2010). You can follow Phyrillas on Twitter @TonyPhyrillas