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Cross Out God Campaign!

History

  • The original national motto was "E Pluribus Unum", which is Latin for "From Many, One"
  • In 1837 Congress passed an Act that specified which mottos and phrases were allowed to be printed on currency; this included the national motto
  • In 1886 an new Act was passed by Congress to allow the addition of the phrase "In God we Trust" to currency.  "In God We Trust" was still not the national motto at this point and was not printed on all money.  It was simply allowed to be printed on money, and was printed mostly on small denomination coins along with the national motto, "E Pluribus Unum"
  • In 1956, during the infamous McCarthy era, Congress changed the national motto from "E Pluribus Unum" to "In God we Trust", in an effort to set America apart from communist nations, who were supposedly all atheist, except the fact that Stalin was a great supporter of the Russian Orthodox Church in the U.S.S.R. and the Church actually grew during Stalin's rule.  The motto is, however, very close to the Nazi German motto, "Gott Mit Uns", "God is with us".  During this era "under God" was added to the Pledge of Allegiance and "So help me God" was added to federal oaths (despite the fact that the Christian Bible clearly states not to swear on God or any other person, place, or thing when taking an oath. Matthew 5:33-37, James 5:12).

Constitutionality

The Constitutionality of the use of "God" in national mottos, pledges, and oaths is questionable, but generally able to be maintained because the use of the word "God" is claimed not necessarily endorse a specific religion.  It does however, exclude many religions, and it obviously references the Christian god, because the Christian god is the only traditional god that is referred to as "God".  By capitalizing the word god, it is clearly an endorsement of the Christian religion.  The Constitutionality of these uses of "God" has been challenged several times, but upheld by the Supreme Court on the grounds that the term "God" does not refer to any particular god and is only ceremonial in nature, and does not claim to acknowledge any real "God".

Legal Issues

The issue of legality in crossing out certain words on money is debatable.  It is obviously not illegal to write on money.  There has been a case where a warning was issues to a couple who were stamping dollars with a pot leaf stamp, but they were never charged with any crime.  Defacement of currency is a crime, defined as any action that renders the money "unfit to be reissued", and holds a sentence of up to a $100 fine or up to 6 months in prison.  See the links below for more details.

Related Links

Bureau of Engraving Statement on Defacement of Currency

Bureau of Engraving Statement on "In God We Trust"

History of National Mottos