Wednesday, April 22, 2009

In God We Trust

On this day in 1864, Congress authorized the use of the phrase "In God We Trust" on U.S. coins. In Fact Sheets: Currency and Coins put out by the US Treasury Department, it states that the main reason that the phrase was put on our money was "largely because of the increased religious sentiment existing during the Civil War."

The first appeal to have this phrase put on our currency was made in a letter to Secretary Chase on November 13, 1861 by Reverend M.R. Watkinson from Pennsylvania. One quote in his letter is as follows:

This would make a beautiful coin, to which no possible citizen could object. This would relieve us from the ignominy of heathenism. This would place us openly under the Divine protection we have personally claimed. From my hearth I have felt our national shame in disowning God as not the least of our present national disasters.

It takes an Act of Congress to make any changes on the mottoes.So Secretary Chase sent a memo to the Mint Director on December 19, 1863, for a change in mottoes. The Act was passed on April 22, 1864 and allowed the motto to be placed on the one cent coin. Later, on March 6, 1865, another Act of Congress was passed, giving the authority for gold and silver coins to contain the words "In God We Trust".

Later, Congress passed the Coinage Act of February 12, 1873. It also said that the Secretary "may cause the motto IN GOD WE TRUST to be inscribed on such coins as shall admit of such motto."

The use of IN GOD WE TRUST has not been uninterrupted. The motto disappeared from the five-cent coin in 1883, and did not reappear until production of the Jefferson nickel began in 1938. Since 1938, all United States coins bear the inscription.

In 2005, Michael Newdow filed to get "In God We Trust" taken off our currency. He stated that "Clearly it's not treating atheists equal with people who believe in God when you say 'In God We Trust' or we are a 'nation under God.'" The case was dismissed by the judge in 2006.

In God We Trust has been our national motto since 1956. Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, has written a great article on Protecting our National Motto.

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1 Comment:

Cathy said...

I certainly hope this administration does not try to remove it! Though they don't seem to like some words, such as Jesus and God.