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Posted by on Nov 3, 2011 in Law, Politics, Religion | 7 comments

In God We Trust – Still

Officially adopted as the national motto of the United States in 1956, “In God We Trust” has been in official use by the government since it was first added to coinage in 1864 at the direction of Treasury Secretary Samuel Chase. Some wrongly credit Francis Scott Key with originally “coining” the phrase in 1814 in one of the verses of “The Star Spangled Banner”. In a verse not normally sung, and little known by most Americans, Key referred to our motto as being “In God is our trust”.

The motto has not been without its detractors. President Theodore Roosevelt thought it sacrilegious to put the name of God on money. Numerous court challenges have been filed over the years, none successfully. In 1984, the U. S. Supreme Court put the issue to rest in Lynch v. Donnelly. Relying on the doctrine of ceremonial deism, the Court found that the national motto had been so often repeated that it contained no significant religious content and could not be viewed as an establishment of religious in the context of the First Amendment.

The 1956 legislation contains no sunset provision, but that does not stop Congress from reaffirming the national motto from time to time. Prior to yesterday the last reaffirmation was in 2002 when Congress passed legislation saying that the 1956 legislation should not be changed. Then yesterday the great reaffirmation fever struck again as the House, by a vote of 396 to 9, affirmed that the national motto is still “In God We Trust”, encouraging that it be displayed in public schools and government buildings.

Well, ok. With the country doing so well, it’s not like we have any pressing matters for Congress to address.

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