“In God We Trust” Appealed to High Court (May 1996)

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review its “In God We Trust” case. Robert Tiernan, Foundation counsel, filed the appeal on April 19, 1996.

The Foundation’s lawsuit challenges the religious motto which now appears on all coins and paper currency.

“The District Court dismissed our complaint without trial,” Tiernan said. “That court said that ‘In God We Trust’ is a form of ‘ceremonial deism,’ that it does not constitute prohibited government endorsement of religion. We’re maintaining that it was wrong for the plaintiffs to be denied a trial in this important constitutional challenge.”

The Federal Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed the District Court decision.

“Our appeal will ask that the U.S. Supreme Court remand the case for trial and give the parties a full opportunity to present their evidence,” Tiernan said.

Prior to filing the lawsuit the Foundation had a national survey conducted which showed that the motto is regarded as religious by an overwhelming number of U.S. citizens.

“The motto obviously is an enhancement of religion,” said Anne Nicol Gaylor, Foundation president. “And its lack of accuracy should bother any court. To be accurate the motto would have to say ‘In God some of us trust.’ All of us could subscribe to the old motto which we never should have given up. E pluribus unum–from many come one–is what the United States is all about. It is a fact.

“In addition we are believed to be the only country in the world with a religious exhortation on money. And yet we are the democracy with a commitment to separation of church and state.

“Perhaps the Supreme Court will see the inconsistencies or at least recognize that we should have our day in court.”

In February a federal judge in Chicago ruled that a sign on an Illinois county courthouse reading “The World Needs God” violated the First Amendment.

“Putting ‘God’ on money that all of us must use certainly seems like a more pervasive violation,” Gaylor said.

Freedom From Religion Foundation