House panel considers 'In God We Trust'
March 17th, 2011
11:58 AM ET

House panel considers 'In God We Trust'

By Gabe LaMonica, CNN

The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote Thursday on a measure to reaffirm “In God We Trust” as the national motto and to encourage its display on public buildings, including schools.

U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Virginia, is sponsoring the measure on the national motto, adopted in 1956.

Critics say the vote is purely political.

"Of course none of this is necessary," said the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, a Washington advocacy group.

“No organization or group of graffiti artists is going around trying to cover up” the motto, he said. "This is all part of a silly season that usually occurs closer to election cycles."

Still, Lynn says he objects to the motto.

“Many American people believe in no God or in multiple gods, so the motto should be 'In God, or in no God, or in multiple gods we trust,'” he said.

Forbes has said that his resolution is a response to what he calls the increasing secularization of the public square.

“Over the past several years, there have been growing efforts to strip references to America’s religious heritage, including our national motto, from federal buildings, documents and ceremonies across the nation," he said in introducing the measure last year.

"But our laws and our Constitution do not require exclusion of God from matters of government and public life," he said. "This resolution seeks to reaffirm the foundation upon which our nation was built and acknowledges that trust in God is embedded into the fabric of society and history in the United States.”

Forbes' office says the bill has 56 cosponsors.

The debate over the “In God We Trust” motto is over a century old, with President Theodore Roosevelt arguing that it should not appear on coins, a practice that dates to the 1860s.

“It seems to me eminently unwise to cheapen such a motto by use on coins, just as it would be to cheapen it by use on postage stamps or advertisements," Roosevelt wrote in 1907.

But he supported the phrase in other places.

“A beautiful and solemn sentence such as the one in question,” Roosevelt wrote, “should be treated and uttered only with that fine reverence which necessarily implies a certain exultation of spirit."

He encouraged its display on national monuments and "wherever it will inspire a lofty emotion in those who look thereon."

The motto has appeared on paper currency since 1957.

The constitutionality of the motto on money has been unsuccessfully challenged in court, though the Supreme Court has declined to hear those cases.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Church and state • Politics

soundoff (169 Responses)
  1. christina knight

    what a pity that the republican members of the house who support this measure do not appreciate the irony of their enthusiam for making the motto for the u.s. explicitly religious. i guess for iran and most of the middle east it would be in allah we trust. these republicans demonstrate again and again the wisdom of the principle of the separation of church and state. do we really want to live in a theocracy? there has never, nor can there be a FREE theocratic state.

    October 31, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
  2. Mike Jones

    Why doesn't America detach itself from religion completely. Our nation is filled with atheists. Yes, I recognize that not everyone is atheist, but there should be more consideration for the atheists. We are part of America too. As this article said, "Still, Lynn says he objects to the motto. “Many American people believe in no God or in multiple gods, so the motto should be 'In God, or in no God, or in multiple gods we trust,'” he said." Not everyone is going to agree about this, so we just shouldn't mention any type of "God" and associate it with America.

    March 24, 2011 at 8:52 am |
  3. Muneef

    What is happening today among Muslims is above Islam which is being blamed for,for example take the wars Muslims against Muslims all through history when were kingdoms and empires.

    Recent history the hot and cold wars between sunnies and shiaa's (Iraq vs Iran)(Iraq vs Kuwait)(Yemen civil wars) and so on a list can be made ! Although we were told that the Muslim has a right against Muslims;


    What ever is happening is nothing of Islam. A Muslim calling a Muslim as infidel for having difference of opinions in between, is not of Islam...!!! What is happening is evil teachings that are non of Quran of Islam...

    Those who allowed them self to spill blood of a Muslim for any reason religious or non religious, will not mind spilling bloods of any people Muslims or non for any reason they will invent because they became as addicted as those playing it video games on play stations...
    What is happening to the world? The whole world was brainwashed with video games and play stations of making a kill by wars from street wars to army wars? Sad to see most have it as Arabs and Muslims being the enemy calling Allah Akbar with each terror move? Allah Akbar and kill the infidel was a recorded message in an imported children toy guns and pistols,the recording plays sound of shooting and back ground voice shouting these things ! Aren't such games considered as brain washing kids,teaching them violence. 
    Toy companies has marketed for violence and wars more than any other games,same was for the film industry that had added to that violence education...
    Read once about an Indian immigrant family living in America,who's young boy of theirs was addicted to a game that has a man using hooky stick to kill people...as learnt from the game he prepared the hooky stick killing his father,mother,young sister and run away back to collage pretending not to know until the neighbors smelled the rotting corpuses called the police to find rooms filled with flys....
    What generations we prepared for are the ones who we are to meet sooner or later.                     

    March 22, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  4. Muneef

    In God we Trust.
    In Money we trust.
    In people we trust.
    In ink paper we trust?
    In might we trust?
    Why do you need to trust at all if were not in God you trust?

    March 20, 2011 at 8:50 pm |
  5. Darek

    I'm an American, and in God I don't trust.

    It's difficult to understand why anyone would want such a divisive statement to be the national motto. After all, there's never any doubt as to which god it's referring to, so not only can the non-religious folks feel excluded, but in fact religious non-Christians aren't welcome in America either.

    March 20, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • Real America

      "I'm an American, and in God I don't trust."

      You aren't much of one...

      March 21, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
  6. Sequin

    Why is it that "Americans" (some of them) say "God should not be a part of our money, or our Government, or of our schools" But as soon as something bad happens... "God Bless America" "We turn to God and Pray for these people who have been hurt" "God be with them" "We are praying for them!" (who are you praying to??) The same people that say we should not have god in our government or our schools?? God is not a God you set on a shelf and USE him when it's convenient for you!! Or our country! We will say God Bless America, but when will America Bless God???

    March 20, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  7. suzan

    What is wrong with the original motto 'E Pluribus Unum'? From many, one to me is a lot closer to what Americans really are and are really about. Why is there a need to put religion in this mix at all? Why can we be happy with the way we should really be, non-exclusive to any one, be they religious or not.

    March 20, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  8. Flex

    Stick your bible up your ass, and ignite it.

    March 20, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  9. Beezle Bub

    Fear me you heathens. I am the god of hellfire!

    March 19, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
  10. Julie

    How about too, "Nothing Bless America? Fits with in Nothing We Trust. Or better yet.... Its my money too, and I do trust in God! So, thats not an option for "our" money.

    March 19, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
  11. Muneef

    In nothing we Trust....?

    March 19, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
  12. Stephen

    The arrogance, foolishness, and treachery of the Republican party never ceases to amaze, they are really an incredible lot of ideologues.

    March 19, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      You must admit, it's impressive how they can come up with distractions like this... Aside from the oppressive facet of this "motto" it panders nicely to their base...

      March 19, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
  13. Andrew

    Leaving the phrase off the money and print "Onepeople" would describe our current meltingpot better and enhance true cohesion between everyone having to deal with antiquated forms of money.

    March 19, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • Gordon Gecko

      Leave the phrase off money and replace it with "Greed is Good."

      Better yet, they should sell that space as advertising and use the money raised to balance the budget. In Pepsi We Trust

      I can't imagine anyone weak-minded enough to be converted by a slogan on a nickel, and nobody over the age of 8 actually reads what's on money anyway.

      March 19, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      In Pepsi We Trust isn't bad at all – however, given what's going on in the country, I believe that "In Coke We Trust" is closer to the truth...

      March 19, 2011 at 8:47 pm |
    • Charlie Sheen

      "In Coke We Trust" is MY motto, bub. It's really "In Coke and Smoking Hotties I Trust." I have other mottos:

      "Dying is for fools. Amateurs."

      "The run I was on made Sinatra, Flynn, Jagger, Richards all of ‘em just look like droopy-eyed armless children.”

      "It’s been a tsunami. And I’ve been riding it on a mercury surfboard.”

      "You borrow my brain for five seconds and just be like ‘Dude, can’t handle it! Unplug this bas-tard!’ … It fires in a way that is perhaps not from this terrestrial realm.”

      "Resentments are the rocket fuel that lives in the tip of my saber.” – Yes, I do put rocket fuel in the tip of my saber; doesn't every good swordsman?


      March 20, 2011 at 12:04 am |
  14. Joshua

    I can assure you that I will make it my permanent job to destroy ANY such signs I see wherever I go. I will dedicate my entire life to eradicating this country of any such public political religious endorsement. This act will be considered an act of war and treason against the American public and the perpetrates will also be SEVERELY dealt with. At no time will I let this country slide backwards into religious oppression towards the likes of the Muslim Fundamentalists. I will take ANY AND ALL measures necessary to ensure that our public law does not become controlled by any singular religious group or organization. ANY MEANS NECESSARY.

    March 19, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Martha

      Do I rear a Hitler statement in this?

      March 19, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
    • Professor Falken

      Remember what you learned in the movie, Joshua. The only way to win is not to play.

      March 19, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
    • Real America

      Touch one in front of me, I will make an citizens arrest for vandalism... and end you on the spot.

      March 21, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
  15. Muneef


    March 19, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • Reality

      There never was and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam ///////////////////////////////////

      March 19, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Muneef

      In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
      Lo! We revealed it on the Night of Power. (1) Ah, what will convey unto thee what the Night of Power is! (2) The Night of Power is better than a thousand months. (3) The angels and the Spirit descend therein, by the permission of their Lord, with all decrees. (4) (The night is) Peace until the rising of the dawn. (5).

      March 19, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
  16. Muneef


    March 19, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  17. fro

    Al Bluengreenenbrownenburger
    "No, the people who came here first came across a land bridge from Siberia 12,000 years ago"
    Yeesh on the basis of that argument, perhaps you and I and everyone should get back to Africa since that was where all humans came from...but i wonder if the Africans would like that? Hmmm....

    March 19, 2011 at 9:23 am |
    • Al Bluengreenenbrownenburger

      That wasn't an argument, dumb-dumb, that was a statement of fact, part of a discussion in rebuttal to PRISM1234's
      false statement "There is no doubt in my mind that those who came here first, and those who established it, were people who hono'red God." Those who came here first came across a land bridge from Siberia. As to the rest, well, go back and read what I actually wrote instead of what you imagined I wrote.

      As such, your response does not make even the slightest sense.

      March 19, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
  18. Reality

    "In Us, We Trust!! ".................................................

    March 19, 2011 at 8:17 am |
  19. Lizk

    One meaning of fear (Webster's) is "To reverence; to have a reverential awe; to venerate. This do, and live: for I fear God. Gen. 42."

    March 19, 2011 at 6:39 am |
  20. Frederica

    America is like a trash can without the fear of God or former godliness. A fit nation for a polluted planet.

    March 19, 2011 at 2:37 am |
    • Rinzin

      Why should we fear God? I do not see any reason for that. At one point, all organized religions say 'their God has Infinite Compassion but on other point we must fear god'. This is a paradox. Hence, 'In God We Trust' is the best. We can love and trust the god, fear is something unacceptible...

      March 19, 2011 at 3:25 am |
    • PraiseTheLard

      To which of the innumerable gods invented by mankind throughout its history are you referring?

      Every one of those gods' worshipers were convinced that theirs was the true god... they all were – and are – ignoramuses... as long as their keep their ridiculous beliefs to themselves, there's very little harm done... When they force others to follow along, all progress is halted.

      March 19, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • Mr. Sniffles

      Catch a clue, LardPraiseGuy ! She is clearly referring to Gozer the Gozerian

      March 19, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • Zuul

      I am the gatekeeper

      March 19, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Praise The Lord

      It doesn't matter which God, coz it's definitely NOT yours.

      March 20, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
    • Robe

      With all the balance budget talk going on, 65 billion dollars spent on signage, seems a total waste of the tax payers money. To trust in the Lord does not require a sign, it requires a open mind and heart.

      March 21, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.