Friday, June 16, 2006

Judge Upholds "In God We Trust"

From FotF's Pastor's Weekly Briefing

A federal judge this week rejected a lawsuit by an atheist who claimed that the use of the motto "In God We Trust" on U.S. coins and currency is a violation of his First Amendment rights.

In his judgment against Sacramento doctor and lawyer Michael Newdow, U.S. District Judge Frank C. Damrell ruled that the phrase "In God We Trust" is a secular national slogan, and its appearance on coins and currency does not show government coercion on behalf of monotheism, and does not trample on an individual's religious views. Newdow lost an effort two years ago to have the Pledge of Allegiance banned from public schools because it contains the words "under God." The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2004 that he lacked standing to bring the case because he didn't have custody of the daughter on whose behalf he brought the case.

Newdow then filed an identical lawsuit on behalf of parents with children in three Sacramento-area school districts. In September, a federal judge in Sacramento sided with Newdow, and the case is pending before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Newdow said he plans to appeal the currency decision, as well, to the same appeals court.

The motto "In God We Trust" first appeared in 1864 on the two-cent coin, and then since 1938 on all U.S. coins. In 1956, a Joint Resolution of Congress established "In God We Trust" as the national motto of the United States, and the next year it first appeared on paper money.

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