In God We (Don’t) Trust

Of all of the complaints over state/church entanglement received by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, none has received more complaints from our membership than the inscription “In God We Trust” on currency.

To learn more about how a religious motto supplanted U.S. secular heritage, read on and see the links below.

The Freedom From Religion sued the federal government in 1994 to have “In God We Trust” removed from currency and as our national motto.

The motto was put on all paper currency by an Act of Congress in 1955. The phrase was chosen as our national motto by an Act of Congress in 1956. It first appeared on paper currency in 1957.

The Foundation lawsuit was dismissed by a 10th-circuit federal judge on the grounds that “In God We Trust” is not a religious phrase. The Foundation appealed the dismissal.

Foundation Lawsuit Challenges “In God We Trust” Motto
Freethought Today, June/July 1994

“In God We Trust” Legal Complaint
Freethought Today, June/July 1994

“In God We Trust” Appeal
Freethought Today, November 1995

In God We Trust Appealed To High Court
Freethought Today, May 1996

US Supreme Court Turns Down Foundation Appeal
Freethought Today, June/July 1996

See Court Challenges

IGWT in Public Schools: Project Blitz and Christian Nationalism

In recent years, many states have passed laws aimed at placing In God We Trust in public schools. This sudden trend is no coincidence. The laws are part of a nation-wide effort called Project Blitz, a Christian nationalist crusade that seeks to redefine what it means to be an American—so that to be an American is to be a Christian and to be a Christian is to be an American—and then to rewrite the law accordingly. Project Blitz’s goal is to favor Christians as a special class, while relegating everyone else to second-class status.

Emblazoning In God We Trust in public schools furthers that goal. The new laws in most of these states mirror the model bill in the Project Blitz handbook. Some legislators pushing these bills are unaware of their connection to Christian nationalism, while for others it’s exactly why they support them. FFRF is actively working to oppose the efforts of Project Blitz, including the placement of In God We Trust in public schools around the country.


In August of 2019, FFRF Director of Strategic Response and constitutional attorney Andrew L. Seidel wrote a three-part series on In God We Trust for Rewire News. The first installment tells the story of the motto’s sketchy origin. The second installment examines the motto’s legality. The third installment reveals the coordinated battle waged by an emboldened Christian nationalist movement known as “Project Blitz.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation