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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. Reality

    How about "In Us, We Trust"??

    March 17, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  2. Nonimus

    E PLURIBUS UNUM

    March 17, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  3. TheRationale

    In no God we trust
    That's our new motto

    Oh look at all those hands raised in protest! Funny how that worked...

    And thus the reason to remove In God We Trust. It's only there because of the majority, and it is not in the spirit of the nation.

    March 17, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      I like your correction of the motto!!!

      Much better than the one I've been known to use on paper currency... in Dog we trust...

      March 17, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
  4. Eric G.

    Change it to "In Joe Pesci we trust"!

    March 17, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  5. hilltop

    I am in support of our motto, but sadly it would be an insult to God to promote this desire because our nation is increasingly growing antagonistic toward God both inside and outside of the church. America, honor God with your heart not just your words. Repent! Our time is short

    March 17, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • False Reality

      "I am in support of our motto, but sadly it would be an insult to God to promote this desire because our nation is increasingly growing antagonistic toward God both inside and outside of the church. America, honor God with your heart not just your words. "

      I'm not antagonistic against God, if someone could prove to me that a fair, loving God exsisted I would gladly follow. Sadly, no one has been able to do that. They've only been able to provide fear based accusations, bible quotes (quotes from an unproven book does not equal proof) and faithed based conjecture.

      "Repent! Our time is short"

      Proof of this? Otherwise you're just fear-mongering.

      March 17, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • x

      My time seems to be as tall as ever...

      March 17, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Po

      To repent, one must first pent. I have never heard of how this can be done. Religious word fail.

      March 18, 2011 at 8:55 am |
    • hilltop

      FR,
      The truth is, you are just as unable to disprove the existence of God. This line of reasoning is pointless because it doesn't take into account its own limitations. You nor I can emphatically prove or disprove the existence of God. Therefore we must examine all truth claims, weigh their historical and reasonable credibility and proceed from there. An "I can't see, therefore I can't believe" position is elementary. Even Dawkins and Flew concede that point.

      March 18, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  6. JohnQuest

    Apparently they have nothing better to work on, like the economy, jobs, healthcare etc....

    March 17, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  7. JohnR

    And note that this motto does not go back to the founding. Just like 'under god' in the pledge of allegiance, it was added during the ultra-benighted 1950s.

    I also note with some irony, however, that people mostly of the left who object to how militaristic the national anthem is have often advocated America the Beautiful as an alternative. But ATB contains the "g-word" quite prominently.

    March 17, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
  8. False Reality

    "I'm laying out the choices...its your choice. Considering that our Lord created you..me and everything and holds your very life in his hands...I would say reverent fear is what our Lord desires...In essence a reverence to WANT to go by his word and a FEAR of his mighty power."

    I reject this notion because there is no proof of it. I see no reasn to live my life in fear of something that I have no reason to believe in. No, I don't WANT to believe in something that doesn't exsist because I believe it is important to believe as many true things as possible. I use reason, and evaluate my reality through a process of testing and confirming what is real and what is not, and your God doesn't make the cut. If it is your job to convert me, as it says in the bible, than you must first have PROOF.

    March 17, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • CW

      @ false reality,

      Ahhhh....reasoning....such a two edged swo-'rd.

      you reason.....aka....my perception determines my reality. The problem with this is that our Lord said "blessed are those that have not seen but believe". I know..I know...I can't prove it to you....you have your "reasoning".

      You reason...I'll put my faith and trust in God. Let's see who wins in the end.

      March 17, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      > You reason...I'll put my faith and trust in God. Let's see who wins in the end.

      There have been 10,000+ religions in the world. All relied on faith. At best, one is right. At worst, none are right.

      I don't like your odds CW.

      March 17, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • ScottK

      Actualy Bob, at worst is all of them are right... then my 1/10,000 of my soul will be reincarnated, 1 part resurected, 1 part in hades, 1 part in limbo, 1 part in heaven, 1 part in Valhalla.... and so forth. Now that would be the worst, except maybe for the 1 part in Valhalla...

      March 17, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
    • Woody

      CW writes:
      "our Lord said 'blessed are those that have not seen but believe' ".

      P.T. Barnum said the same thing, albeit a little less eloquently. "There's a sucker born every minute".

      March 17, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
  9. Reality

    To make most everyone happy, "In God We Trust" should be replaced by "Do No Harm".

    March 17, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      You're alienating the entire sadist community that way. I fear I must object.

      Instead, might I suggest the following: "Do No Harm...unless you're both consenting adults in a committed relationship with a safe word."

      March 17, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Then you'll have the Dentists up in arms.

      March 17, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  10. Lee Strain

    I've never trusted in a figment of other peoples imagination

    March 17, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • ScottK

      Why haven't the cookie elves put out a new brand of fruit filled mint cookies shaped like Jesus or Mary called "Fig-Mints"?

      March 17, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
  11. False Reality

    @ The Bobinator,

    Welcome to "Who wants to go to H-'ELL"

    Question "Do you believe in God?
    Answers
    A) No, it hasn't hit me upside the head that God exists
    B) No, I believe that ALL "science" mumbo jumbo....is true...God didn't cre-'ate us.
    C) Yes, Because John 3:16 was wrote for sinners like me and Jesus came and died for my sins....no proof needed...the Bible has all the history and truth.
    D) No, I have my own set of beliefs...I'm a good person...so who needs God.
    E) A,B, and D
    Well ladies and gentlemen...I've laid out the choices...its your choice Heaven or enternal fire."

    Proof for any of this? NO? Oh well, I guess your just a fear mongeror....Now ask yourself what type of God you must have if his only means of persuasion is control through fear.

    March 17, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • CW

      @ False reality,

      I'm laying out the choices...its your choice. Considering that our Lord created you..me and everything and holds your very life in his hands...I would say reverent fear is what our Lord desires...In essence a reverence to WANT to go by his word and a FEAR of his mighty power.

      March 17, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • miker42

      @CW

      Are you saying you think it is acceptable for the government to preach your specific god to all Americans? Even those that believe in a different god or no god at all? The founding fathers that you mentioned earlier were against this sort of behavior.

      March 17, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      > I'm laying out the choices...its your choice.

      Actually, if the bible was true, we wouldn't have free will by the nature of God. You'd know this if you actually spent some time reading the bible and thinking about what it says.

      March 17, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • False Reality

      "Ahhhh....reasoning....such a two edged swo-'rd."

      Only a double edged sword because it doesn't agree with your made up and unproven beleifs.

      "you reason.....aka....my perception determines my reality. The problem with this is that our Lord said "blessed are those that have not seen but believe".

      Your perception does determine your reality, but that doesn't make it real. Reality is reality, it does not have any bearing on what you believe or not. Why would it ever be a blessing to blindly follow something that isn't likely to be true?

      Your supposed God DID give me reason and a brain correct? Why bother going through all of this, just to see if I won't use them? This leaves either a short-sighted and foolish God or a cruel, unjust God, or one that does not exsist. You take your pick.

      " I know..I know...I can't prove it to you....you have your "reasoning".
      You reason...I'll put my faith and trust in God. Let's see who wins in the end.""

      There is not "winning" in the end..this is just a veiled threat of hell. This is like Pascal's wager...it is better to believe and be wrong than not beleive and be wrong. This is just silly, as if any ominpotent and omnipresent God can be "fooled" by this line of thinking. It is just a cheap trick to try to and get converts and it doesn't hold up.

      March 17, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • ScottK

      @CW – "reverent fear is what our Lord desires..." I am so glad I do not worship your petty God who desires his creation to fear him, even reverently.

      To quote your useless scripture, you and your religion are the prost itute "adorned with gold and precious stone and pearls and had in her hand a golden cup that was full of disgusting things and the unclean things of her fornication. And upon her forehead was written a name, a mystery: "Babylon the Great, the mother of the harlots and of the disgusting things of the earth." Rev 18:4 – No mystery there, organized religion fits that description perfectly.

      March 17, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  12. CW

    It should stay period.

    In God we should all trust.

    March 17, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      Why should it stay?

      March 17, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • CW

      Because it should stay....our founding fathers wanted it on our money....its been good enough for 100's of years...its good enough for you and me.

      March 17, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Truth

      No, we should all trust in the Flying Spaghetti Monster. There is no god but the Flying Spaghetti Monster and Jay-Z is His prophet. Peace be upon him. Ramen.

      March 17, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • LOL

      It was made our motto and put on the money in the late fifties as a middle finger to the USSR's secular communism.

      March 17, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • CW

      @ Truth,

      Well he or she...go printyourself some money....and print on it that you trust in the spaghette monster.....and leave "In God We Trust" on my money.

      @ LOL,

      And we wonder what has happened since the fifties.....we have gone away from a nation that feared God to one that thumb's our noses at him.

      March 17, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @CW: A lot of the founding fathers didn't want to abolish slavery either. Are you saying we should've kept that too?

      March 17, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      > Because it should stay....our founding fathers wanted it on our money....its been good enough for 100's of years...its good enough for you and me.

      Funny, I thought it was added to the penny first in 1909. And then in the 50's on the one dollar bill. Those are some long lived founding fathers.

      March 17, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • CW

      @ SeanNJ,

      Nonsense....let's bring up how we had kids working in the mills in the old days too while your at it.

      March 17, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • CW

      @ The Bobinator,

      Founding father...perhaps wrong words...anyway its been good since 1909....seems to me its good enough now.

      March 17, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • Magic

      Here's the Wikipedia skinny on the subject:

      "It was first used as a motto on coinage on the 1864 two-cent coin, followed in 1866 by the 5 cent nickel (1866–1883), quarter dollar, half dollar, silver dollar and gold dollars.[1][4] A 1865 law allowed the motto to be used on coins.[5] The use of the motto was permitted, but not required, by an 1873 law. While several laws come into play, the act of May 18, 1908,[6] is most often cited as requiring the motto (even though the cent and nickel were excluded from that law, and the nickel did not have the motto added until 1938). Since 1938, all coins have borne the motto.

      On July 11, 1955, just one year after the phrase "under God" was incorporated into the Pledge of Allegiance,[7], the U.S. Congress enacted Public Law 84-140, which required the motto on all coins and currency. The law was approved by President Eisenhower on July 30, 1956, and the motto was progressively added to paper money over a period from 1957 to 1966.[1]"

      In 1956 the phrase was legally adopted as the United States' national motto by a law passed by the 84th United States Congress.(Public Law 84-851)"[8], and the United States Code at United States, now states: "'In God we trust' is the national motto."

      March 17, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • False Reality

      "It should stay period.
      In God we should all trust."

      Why should I trust in anything that is unproven? Would you trust in my box of fairies that said if you believe in them you won't suffer would you have faith in that?

      March 17, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @CW: "Nonsense....let's bring up how we had kids working in the mills in the old days too while your at it."

      You were the one playing the "it's always been that way" card. I was merely pointing out that it's a horrible way to decide anything. Read Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" again. Seems you're long overdue for a refresher.

      March 17, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      > "It was first used as a motto on coinage on the 1864 two-cent coin

      So, it was well after the founding fathers died, thereby proving CW's claim wrong.

      > anyway its been good since 1909....seems to me its good enough now.

      So, if it was 1802 and we were debating slavery, your point would be "Slavery, it's been here since the dawn of mand, seems to me it's good enough now." That's how silly your argument is.

      March 17, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  13. Shlarg

    In god we trust to do what ?

    March 17, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Po

      To not actually do anything to us, for us, or against us. But if anything happens, it was His Holy Plan all along. Simple.

      March 18, 2011 at 8:54 am |
  14. Rocky Carr

    Hey, Republicans! What happened to "respecting individual liberty?" Freedom of religion also means freedom FROM religion – especially yours!

    March 17, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  15. SeanNJ

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

    As it should be. There's no public benefit to be had by plastering this trite phrase everywhere. Get back to work and quit wasting my tax dollars with your meaningless resolutions.

    March 17, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  16. davey crocitt

    Wow what a way to show patriotism republicans but I'd rather hear about new jobs.

    March 17, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  17. The Bobinator

    Welcome to "Are you a Hypocrite?"

    Today, we're coming to you live from the CNN Faith Blogs on the CNN News Forums to see in fact who is a hypocrite!

    Here's today's questions!

    Q1) Do you have a problem with the words "In God we Trust" on our money?
    Q2) Do you have a problem with the words "In Allah we Trust" on our money?

    Answer Sheet:
    Q1) No, Q2) Yes, Congratulations, you're a hypocrite!
    Q1) Yes, Q2) No, Congratulations, you're a hypocrite!
    Q1) Yes, Q2) Yes You're not a hypocrite! Sorry, please try again.
    Q1) No, Q2) No You're not a hypocrite! Sorry, please try again.

    March 17, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • CW

      @ The Bobinator,

      Welcome to "Who wants to go to H-'ELL"

      Question "Do you believe in God?"

      Answers
      A) No, it hasn't hit me upside the head that God exists
      B) No, I believe that ALL "science" mumbo jumbo....is true...God didn't cre-'ate us.
      C) Yes, Because John 3:16 was wrote for sinners like me and Jesus came and died for my sins....no proof needed...the Bible has all the history and truth.
      D) No, I have my own set of beliefs...I'm a good person...so who needs God.
      E) A,B, and D

      Well ladies and gentlemen...I've laid out the choices...its your choice Heaven or enternal fire.

      March 17, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      I think you should rename hell to "The maybe place of torture." Cause it's not proven to exist.

      March 17, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • Mr. Sniffles

      If I die and find myself surrounded by religious zealots for the rest of eternity, I will know I am in hell.

      March 17, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
    • Mischa

      CW, you're pretty arrogant to think yourself worthy enough to judge us. You smugly lay it all out and then say we're all doomed according to no one but you and your quick little questionnaire.
      Multiple choice! What fun! And you are the big boss of us all, yeah, right. Go back to being a cable channel, CW.

      March 18, 2011 at 3:06 am |
    • Evolved DNA

      CW.. i think that you may be right.. there is a hell and I think we are in it now..god has condemned us atheists to a lifetime of living with the Christians who did'nt make it either.. Welcome .....

      March 18, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  18. Christopher Gudger-Raines

    Plastering this motto all over buildings does not make it true.

    March 17, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • AnnoyMouse

      They are afraid that if they don't see it right in front of their faces that they are living in a secular world of Satanic evil or something insane like that. They constantly need reassurance because their faith is weak and their god nonexistent.

      March 18, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  19. Shiloruh

    E pluibus Unum is our motto, right?

    March 17, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Unfortunately, no, if I remember correctly. "E pluribus unum" appears on the Great Seal of the US, in use since 1782, and is often described as the unofficial motto, but by law circa 1956 the official motto is "In God we trust," unfortunately.

      March 17, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • CW

      @ nonimus,

      All I can say is this.....if you had lived back when we were a nation that fe-'ar-'ed God instead of thum-'bing our noses at him you would have been thro-'wn out of every debate had on this.

      There is a God.....The Bible is Truth...Period.

      March 17, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • False Reality

      "All I can say is this.....if you had lived back when we were a nation that fe-'ar-'ed God instead of thum-'bing our noses at him you would have been thro-'wn out of every debate had on this. "

      So you prefer blind devotion to an unproven deity to reason or truth? You prefer someone's opinion being shut up simply because you don't agree with it, without any attention to what is right or wrong? Seems like your world is one that even your unproven, callous and violent God would not approve of.

      "There is a God....."

      PROVE IT....

      "The Bible is Truth"
      PROVE IT ...Period.

      March 17, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @CW,
      You're wrong... and that's the truth. period.

      See, it still doesn't work does it.

      March 17, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • ScottK

      @CW – Why would anyone thumb their nose at God? Thats akin to throwing salt over your shoulder so it gets in the eyes of the demons sneaking up to steal your soul. I find that Christians such as yourselves who are addicted to the supersti tion's of the past are as deluded as a Justin Beiber fan claiming his diefication. At least the Beibs exists... Go read your Beible for more information on how you too can be saved...

      March 17, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  20. The Bobinator

    It should be removed as per the first amendment of the united states. Shriners be damned.

    March 17, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Good luck with that... As H. L. Mencken said, no-one will ever go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American consumer... And no politician will ever lose votes underestimating the intelligence of the American voter...

      This country has been on a race to the bottom for a long time...

      March 17, 2011 at 11:05 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.