COLUMN: Defending Our National Motto: “In God We Trust”
Ask someone to recite our national motto, and you might just get a couple different responses. Such has been the confusion about our national motto, that in a speech President Obama delivered in 2010, the President even said, “In the United States, our motto is E pluribus unum — out of many, one.” Actually, “E pluribus unum” is the phrase on the official Seal of the United States. In fact, our official national motto has been “In God We Trust” for decades. This July will mark the 60th anniversary of its official adoption, but sadly the motto is now being challenged in federal court.
The story of our national motto started during the Civil War in 1864, when “In God We Trust” was stamped on our coinage by an act of Congress. In 1956, Congress passed, and President Eisenhower signed a Joint Resolution into law that established “In God We Trust” as the nation’s official national motto. Our nation was founded on Judeo-Christian values and the belief in God, and throughout our history we have acknowledged that our rights come from God, not from the government. The Founders of our country and signers of the Declaration of Independence had no qualms with acknowledging God and that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights.
In 2003, a Gallup survey of Americans found that 90 percent of respondents approved of the use of “In God We Trust” on coins. Despite the motto’s popularity, there is a consistent attempt to drive it and other time-honored expressions of our religious heritage out of the public square. To defend the national motto in a recent court case, I was proud to sign onto an amicus brief filed last week by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) to counter a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the nation’s motto on U.S. coins and currency. The legal brief argues: First, there is significant historical justification for keeping the motto; second, the First Amendment doesn’t compel redaction of references to God on atheistic preferences; third, that a message derived from the government is not compelling individuals to support or make a similar statement; and fourth, that the plaintiffs have no standing, since there is no harm perpetrated.
The ACLJ legal brief that I signed also quotes Thomas Jefferson, who in 1782 wrote, “[C]an the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath?” One wonders what Thomas Jefferson would think of the current controversy and attempts to erase signs of our nation’s faith heritage.
I am committed to safeguard our history and our spiritual foundations. Let’s remember “In God We Trust,” and keep it as our national motto.