Skip to content

“In God We Trust” to Stay on American Currency


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Atheist Republic (News)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): n.d.

A Cincinnati, Ohio, reportage on a federal appeals court decision talked about the rejection of an atheist’s attempts to have “In God We Trust” removed from American currency.

The federal court concluded that the phrase is not compelled speech. This was a decision in agreement with the lower court ruling. That the complainants in the case have other alternatives in cash if they do not prefer this motto.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals stated, “Plaintiffs’ complaint does not allege that anyone has ever attributed the motto to them. And the Supreme Court has strongly suggested that the motto’s inscription on currency does not compel speech.”

It continued to talk about the lack of universal access to credit or bank accounts. However, the financial situation for the plaintiffs does not foreclose the opportunity for the access to checks or credit. Michael Newdow has filed several lawsuits to challenge the admixture of government and religion.

He submitted one in the Southern District of New York in March, 2013. He claimed the motto – In God We Trust – violates the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution. Why? It is a means by which there is a proselytization to the non-religious or unbelievers.

“But in September of that year, U.S. District Court Judge Harold Baer, Jr., nominated by Bill Clinton, rejected Newdow’s arguments, opining that “the inclusion of the motto on U.S. currency . . . does not violate the Establishment Clause [of the Constitution],” the reportage said.

Then Newdow made a case to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, New York in May, 2014. The court ruled against Newdow once more. The claim by the court is that the inclusion into the design of the U.S. current is a religious heritage reference.

Newdow went to find some plaintiffs. The plan was to challenge the motto of “In God We Trust” from a different angle. Bill Clinton signed the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in the 1990s. Newdow filed a suit with 43 plaintiffs. Nine were children.

They claimed the phrase was a burden on the beliefs of atheist, of them.

Their complaint said, “When [the child] is confronted with ‘In God We Trust’ on every coin and currency bill she handles or learns about in school, the power and prestige of the federal government is brought to bear upon her with the message that her father’s (and her own) atheism is false.”

Judge Benita Pearson – on December, 2016 – was appointed to the bench by President Barack Obama. Pearson ruled against the complainants. She argued that a reasonable person would not see the handling of the money with the motto would be an attempt to spread a religious message.

Pearson wrote, “A person does not own the bills and coins printed by the United States Treasury. The government does not require citizens to display money. Money does not exist for the express purpose that it be observed and read by the public.”

Newdow and others then appealed to the Sixth Circuit. This court also upheld the decision made by Pearson. Why? The plaintiffs are not being forced to pay for various purchases with cash.

The three-judge panel said, “Plaintiffs do not allege that they must engage in cash-only transactions; rather, they allege merely that they use cash frequently and prefer to do so. For example, one plaintiff, as an octogenarian, ‘often feels more comfortable using cash rather than credit cards or checks,’ while one child plaintiff ‘uses money almost every week to buy books, magazines, treats and gifts.’”

The panel continued to say that the allegations by the plaintiffs do not show that the government has forced them to violate their religious beliefs or had any significant suffering as a result.

1956 was the year when Congress passed a resolution for “In God We Trust” to be made the national motto. The U.S. House of Representatives upheld this in 2011 396-9 in a vote.


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: