"In God We Trust" - Violation of the 1st Amendment?

I've heard and read about many atheists complaining about the motto used on US money, saying that it violates the first amendment of the US constitution, separation of church and state.

I also know of some atheists who don't really care. They say there's nothing we can do about it, and even if we could, "why bother? It's only money."

It's not only money though.
I recently went to a water park where "In God We Trust" was printed on the entrance sign. Why is this? Was it meant to be a believers-only water park? If so, they should have warned me before I drove the hour-and-a-half.


I want to know what your opinions are on the matter. Should we continue protesting, marking out the motto on our money? Or just leave it be because it doesn't really matter?

I'm curious.

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You have to go all the way back to the days of M.M O'hare to find out the courts decision on this... She fought bravely against it back in the fifties.

I care about it ... I don't like and I'll show you my individual effort to see it changed. Check it out.



I'm hopeful that if it costs the government a few more bucks a year to print and coin replacement money, then they might begin to think up new solutions for the problem. In the mean time, it does its little bit to bring the issue to the forefront.
BRILLIANT! Crossing out the offending phrase and passing the bill on to be seen by many others is a useful way to spread the word that our government should not be promoting religion.

To reduce the tedium of repeatedly scratching it out by pen, perhaps we should come up with a suitable stamp that can readily be used to cover the phrase--or, even better, replace it with something helpful.
Nobody will really look at the back of the bill, though, will they? I know I don't (unless it's a special bill, like one of those new 5's with the big purple 5 or something). Write in something better like "In Science We Trust" or "In Darwin We Trust" and do it in thick Sharpie so it half- bleeds through to the front. That's a way to get people to notice it.
I do this, i use a sharpie and just mark 'god' out. It's hard to do all the time with ones and fives. But if i go to the ATM and get out 20's...I make sure that b-s is marked out. I'm just waiting to get caught at the break truck some morning as my money gets passed onto someone else at work.
Sharpie + Dollar Bills = Religious Monetary Conversion

It's definitely an issue. The irreligious (or polytheistic, deistic, and even simply non-Christians) should never be openly declared as second-class citizens by anyone, let alone the government as a whole. Getting this removed from our money would be a step in the right direction.
"In God We Trust" has the exact opposite effect of our real American motto, "E Pluribus Unum." The Latin motto talks about unity, whereas "In God We Trust" is necessarily divisive.

What strikes me about this issue is the court's response to legal challenges of "In God We Trust." They try to claim that one of the most overtly religious statements is actually not religious at all !! It is "ceremonial deism" - in other words, it has just become a formality and no one actually thinks about what it really means, especially in any religious sense.

This type of thinking reflects the arrogance of Christian evangelicals. The tell people that "God" is not a belief or a religion, but simply a fact (while at the same time espousing that scientific findings such as evolution and global warming are just "beliefs," and it is scientists who are religious).

I hope that atheists like Michael Newdow will continue to bring legal challenges on this matter.
Exactly! I have no problem with ceremonial deism; our Bill of Rights and the Constitution make reference to a "Creator," only natural given our deist Founding Fathers. As I recall, there were some who wanted to credit "god" or "jesus," but they didn't get in for a reason.

"In God We Trust" implies an intercessionist diety, one concept that our Founding Fathers would have rejected immediately. E Pluribus Unum is a far better motto: it implies we solve problems together.

Of course, the dollar could use some divine intervention right now...
Ahh, not that I've found. You are perhaps thinking of the Declaration of Independence?

In reality, Jefferson, when he wrote the Constitution, took great pains to leave out any reference to or of god.

Many fundamentalists at the time whined that it was "a godless document" and it's clear from Jefferson's many letters about it, later, that was his considered intent.

And, I totally agree with the general sentiment of your post. E Pluribus Unim-- out of Many, One, is a much, much better motto.

It applies to anyone who is a human being.
We atheists need to choose our battles wisely. There are MANY to choose from and this one is not high on my priority list. Does it bother me? Sure. But it pales in comparison to assaults on science education, and the widespread perception that atheist = immoral/evil, to name a couple.

My hope is that one day this slogan, as well as the "under God" part of the Pledge of Allegiance, will be seen by the public on a whole as unfair and unrepresentative of America's diversity. Seems like something that will be the result of a rise in open-mindedness, critical thinking and understanding, rather than the cause of any.
I agree. The "IGWT" is symbolically important, but will only result in religious people arguing that we're attacking their freedom to worship. This is a legitimate issue, but we have a long way to go before we can take it on with any chance of winning. Until then, I like Randall's method.
Sara said "We atheists need to choose our battles wisely. There are MANY to choose from and this one is not high on my priority list."

I agree with choosing wisely; however, I strongly disagree that this very simple yet obvious affront to non-believers is an issue that can wait. The state sponsored motto "In God We Trust" is sustained entirely on our own silence. Until we stand up and shout it it down, it will continue to be there as a steady reminder to theist America that non-belief is merely a pesky fly and an abnormality to be shooed aside.

The longer we remain silently tolerant of this very small yet consequentially very important status quo supporting slap-in-the-face and nose-thumbing of our basic civil rights, our right to live and think freely without paying for our existence with our forbearance of preposterous mystical deities - the longer we will have to live in a system that ignores our concerns for all issues of reason vs belief.

Removing this silly little statement from our money is a relatively free step, and it's one that our government could opt for (thus taking our part for a change) if we SCREAM LOUDLY enough to demand it.

Paper money (dollar bills) must be replaced on average every 18 months... New bills could easily be printed to carry the phrase "E Pluribus Unim" and this civil rights issue would begin to rightfully fade away. Coins are meant to last in circulation for approximately 30 or more years. (I'd say we need to stop new coinage ASAP.)

But why doesn't congress opt for this simple solution? The answer is as simple as the solution itself - it's because WE have remained too silent for way to long.
I pretend that the "god" they refer to on currency is David Bowie. When I'm forced to say the pledge of allegiance (Before 9-11 I didn't put my hand over my heart or say it, but after 9-11 I was afraid people would think I was a terrorist if I didn't participate in their little patriotic game.) I just say under 'me' instead of under 'god'. Its my little joke, and it makes me smile.

Part of me doesn't really care what the currency says, I don't think most people even pay attention to it. Besides I always wondered why they wanted to plaster Yaweh's nickname on money, doesn't that infer that god likes money....but greed is one of the seven deadly sins.... It would be a great spin to use their logic against them: "Greed is one of the seven deadly sins, therefor we must remove 'God' from any and all currency to disassociate christianity with greed."

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