UCC Mainstream Online

Do we all trust in God?

Changes to the nation’s motto date back to 1956

Since America’s beginning its citizens have been saying “under God” in the pledge of allegiance and printing “in God we trust” on paper currency. It has always been this way because we are a nation of God. Right?

Wrong, wrong and most definitely wrong. Not only do we have a separation of church and state,  but “in God we trust” did not become the official motto of America until 1957. “In God we trust” was added to coins in 1864 and to paper money in 1957. “In God we trust” replaced “E pluribus unum” on paper money. The phrase “in God we trust” is believed to originate from the fourth stanza of the Star Spangled Banner which says “And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’”

So why did “in God we trust” become the national motto just 56 years ago? In 1956, the nation was trudging through the cold war and witnessing the McCarthy anti-communist witch hunt on a roll. The 84 congress passed this resolution to make “in God we trust” the motto in order to make a distinction between red-blooded, God-loving Americans and the prominently atheist communists they feared.

And so the American government went on a God rampage during the 1950s. “Under God” was added to the pledge of allegiance and “so help me God” was added to the oaths of office for federal justices and judges.

Even though this language seems to be largely unconstitutional, efforts to remove this motto have been tried in three Supreme Court cases only to fail. In the first case, Arnow v. United States in 1970, the Supreme 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."

 And so America sticks its fingers in its ears and continues to not listen to reason. Saying this motto has nothing to do with the establishment of religion is ludicrous. The motto endorses a single deity named “God” and thereby oppresses, albeit in a small way, anyone who is agnostic, atheist, Buddhist, Hindu, Wiccan and more who do not conform to that single definition.

In 1994, the Freedom of Religion Foundation initiated a lawsuit against the motto after conducting a national survey that found most Americans view the motto as religious. The Freedom of Religion Foundation wanted to put an end to printing the motto on currency and overall withdraw the motto from the United States.

The lawsuit was unfortunately dismissed without trial with the court’s reason being “. . . 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.”

This reasoning is absurd because this phrase became the motto in order to shun a group that had a particular religious viewpoint that was contrary to most Americans’ at the time. The motto was supposed to be a slap in the face to the prominently atheist communists America was hunting in the 1950s. But now the courts are saying religion has nothing to do with it.

Overall, it is a shame that America cannot move on from this mistake in history. Although a large majority of Americans are Christian and this motto fits their religion perfectly, that is not the case for the growing minority in America. America would not stand for it if the phrase said “in Vishnu we trust” or “in Allah we trust.” So why are we letting this God into our government?