The phrase “In God We Trust” can be traced back to the original words of Francis Scott Keys’ “Star-Spangled Banner,” written during the War of 1812. The fourth stanza includes the phrase, “And this be our motto: ‘In God is our Trust.'”
The phrase then reappeared on a national level some fifty years later, during the American Civil War. The 125th Pennsylvania Infantry used the scream “In God We Trust” as a battle cry prior to engaging in the fight during the Battle of Antietam.
In the closing days of the war, the United States Treasury Department began minting all coins with this same phrase, “In God We Trust.”
Each year since then (+150 years), the federal government has minted some piece of money bearing these four words.
In the mid-1950s, the United States Congress passed a join resolution “declaring IN GOD WE TRUST the national motto of the United States.” The law was signed by President Eisenhower on July 30, 1956, and the motto was added to paper money over a period from 1957 to 1966.
The United States Code at 36 U.S.C. § 302, now states: “‘In God we trust’ is the national motto.”
This past week, however, a Sacramento attorney filed a lawsuit in Akron, Ohio, seeking to remove “In God We Trust” from the nation’s money.
In his filing, Michael Newdow, referred to God as “G-d.”
The lawsuit represents 41 plaintiffs from Ohio and Michigan (all members of the Freedom from Religion Foundation) and claims “In God We Trust” violates separation of church and state.
One of the plaintiffs said he is “substantially burdened because he is forced to bear on his person a religious statement that causes him to sense his government legitimizing, promoting and reinforcing negative and injurious attitudes not only against Atheists in general, but against him personally.”
The 112-page lawsuit claims, “The ‘In G-d We Trust’ phrase has continued to be a tool used to perpetuate favoritism for (Christian) Monotheism… It has also continued to perpetuate anti-Atheistic bias.”
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