U.S. paper currency began displaying the motto “In God We Trust” on October 1, 1957. These days, questions are being raised about whether this saying impinges on Americans’ rights.
Attorney Michael Newdow has been arguing the case that this phrase violates a statement within the Bill of Rights—“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”—as well as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
His efforts have been rejected by multiple circuit courts. He is now waiting on appeals court decisions and also plans to enlist the help of someone with a different worldview.
“I will probably go for Circuit 7 next,” he said. “I know a Jewish plaintiff who has also been affected by our nation’s motto.”
According to some Jewish beliefs, the name of “God” should remain holy, and the act of writing it out or destroying it in any way goes against this particular belief.
If Congress is any indication, Newdow could have better luck in 2017. The atmosphere has shifted on Capitol Hill since the election of President Donald Trump, who appears to believe religious groups should have a stronger voice in the political realm.
“Trump is playing on the tendency for the majority of people to want religion in their government,” Newdow said. “[However] the government is not allowed to put people in a situation where they are unable to practice their own beliefs.”
Newdow has been fighting for the removal of the “pro-Christian” saying since 1970, and he has no plans to stop until the government decides “to do what they are supposed to do.” He has also fought against the inclusion of “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, in Inaugural prayers and the reference to God during citizenship ceremonies.
“It is not what I stand for, but the Constitution,” Newdow says. “I will not stop until this hypocrisy is no longer excepted…. The key principle is not that we believe in one entity but that we have equality in all beliefs.”
While the motto on paper currency has been around for 60 years, Newdow has been campaigning to remove it for more than 45. What will he do to celebrate the 60-year anniversary? Stay loyal to his personal beliefs.
“I’ll make sure I don’t spend any money, and simply be ashamed that it is taking this long,” Newdow said.