Federal Appeals Court Rules ‘In God We Trust’ On Currency Doesn’t Violate First Amendment

cm-b-2A challenge of the invidious use of a religious motto on U.S. coins and currency taken by intrepid secular litigator Michael Newdow on behalf of many plaintiffs, including the Freedom From Religion Foundation and many of its members, was ruled against by a 3-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York today.

Primary plaintiff in Newdow v. The Congress of the United States, was Rosalyn Newdow, a member of FFRF and a devoted numismatist who collected coins for 40 years, but has felt obligated to stop purchasing coin sets which exclude her and all nonbelievers.

“It’s necessary to remind not just the courts but the public that ‘In God We Trust’ is a Johnny-come-lately motto adopted at the height of the Cold War. It was only officially required on all currency in 1955,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president.

“It’s not even an accurate motto. To be accurate, it would have to say, ‘In God Some of Us Trust,’ and wouldn’t that be silly?” she said, pointing out that today nonbelievers are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population by religious identification, approaching 20% — the second largest “denomination” after Roman Catholics.

FFRF first sued over the motto and its use on coins in the 1990s, and says that religion on the motto and on money remain two of the most common complaints the state/church watchdog receives.

“It creates the dangerous misperception that our republic is based on a god, when in fact it is based on an entirely godless and secular Constitution. These symbolic violations from the 1950s have damaged respect for the constitutional principle of separation between religion and government.”

Gaylor praised Newdow for carrying on his pro bono work to divorce religion from government.

FFRF offers “clean,” pre-“In God We Trust” currency as door prizes at its national conventions, and is currently offering a “clean” dollar bill to any FFRF member recruiting a new member.

“Godless money is a great way to end the argument when someone misguidedly says, ‘God has always been on our money,’ ” Gaylor said.

Newdow commented that the decision was based on such weak contentions as “other circuits have ruled that ‘In God We Trust’ is OK” or “It’s just ceremonial.” He will move for a rehearing.

“I plan to keep trying in the remaining six circuits until we find some federal appellate judges who believe in the principles that underlie our Constitution.”

Read more about the lawsuit history, including Newdow’s fascinating legal complaint.

Read decision

via In God We (Don’t) Trust – Freedom From Religion Foundation.

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  • aaron

    Arguing about needing to remove a fake god from US currency while never mentioning the fact the currency is fake to begin with seems slightly ironic.

  • Echar Lailoken

    I don’t care what it has on it, as long as I can use it as a resource.

    • Number1Framer

      I prefer my pieces of paper to be inscribed with the following phrase which is the holiest of all phrases to appear on any such green paper in my culture:

      “$100″ (*cues generic History Channel-esque ‘God’ choir sound)

      • Echar Lailoken

        I know right?

  • http://www.ContraControl.com/ Zenc

    I’ve got a Dremel tool and a Sharpie marker for when the hypocrisy becomes too much to bear.

    • InfvoCuernos

      what’s the dremel for?

      • aaron

        Coins are metal. Sharpies dont work too well for scratching off words on metal :P

        • InfvoCuernos

          I should have known that! I was trying to picture someone in a hockey mask trying to grind ink off of paper.

  • DeSwiss

    I suppose they’re trying to imply that G-d approves of the Federal Reserve system so people will believe in it too. As fake as money is, I suppose they could use all the help they can get. And after you consider the idea for a while, its the perfect endorsement.

    • Both have no visible substance.
    • If you piss either one of them off it’ll send death to you (probably from the air).
    • It acts irrationally (see IRS Regulations).
    • It acts hierarchically (e.g. -”Affluence” ”Just-Us”, etc.)
    • And both demand respect or there’ll be hell to pay (and there usually is hell even when you do respect – which is really the problem).

    It seems like they were made for each other….. :-/

    • aaron

      The federal reserve should get a buddy christ statue outside their regional banks that says jesus approves of the FED.

  • Simon Valentine

    Markovian Parallax Denigrate

    the analytical technique maintaining a 1-to-1 counterence to capitalism since ‘1996’
    it’s face’ll turn up just about anywhere

  • BuzzCoastin

    it’s not only unconstitutional
    it’s a lie too

    a kuntery with a military larger than all the militaries of the whirled
    obviously does not trust god
    unless by god they mean the Carlyle Group

  • InfvoCuernos

    The god stuff just makes it sweeter when you stuff it in a hooker’s twat after ripping a huge rail off her ass.

    • InfvoCuernos

      or so I hear.

  • AManCalledDa-da

    The only problem with it is the, “Federal Reserve Note” part. TRN time nears.

  • lifobryan

    It makes much more sense when you realize the phrase is self-referential. It is the first-person, faith-based voice of the dollar itself. I would endorse the use of such a phrase on currency if only they would reword it to read “I Am That I Am.”

    • Oginikwe

      Popeye?

      • lifobryan

        Yes indeed … Popeye is the only cartoon character I know of who has successfully made the hermeneutical connection between the Tetragrammaton and root vegetables. “I Yam That I Yam.”

  • Mr B

    ‘Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
    And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”‘

    God bless America.

    Gimme a break.

  • Haystack

    The best way to protest this is to deface the dollar. Cross out “In God We Trust,” insert “God is dead,” “Ahhahu Akbar,” “Hail Almighty Thor,” or whatever you like. It has been decided that the national currency is an appropriate forum for people to assert their religious preferences, so why shouldn’t you participate?

  • aaron

    Lol living in the dark must be hell? Not even sure exactly what that is supposed to mean but whatever.

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