In January 2011, I introduced H.Con.Res.13, to reaffirm 'In God We Trust' as our national motto and encourage its display in public building and government institutions. Since that point, the bill has gained 64 bipartisan cosponsors and was reported favorably out of the House Judiciary Committee in March of 2011. And this week, the resolution will be brought to the floor of House of Representatives for a vote.
“In God We Trust” has been our official national motto for over five decades, and it has been a pivotal part of our nation’s history for even longer. So is it important that we reaffirm “In God We Trust” as our national motto? There are five reasons:
President Obama inaccurately proclaims "E Pluribus Unum' our national motto. Last November before a worldwide audience, in a much-anticipated and much-publicized speech focusing on the United States' relationship with the Muslim world, President Obama falsely proclaimed that our national motto was E pluribus unum. In reaction, 42 bipartisan Members of Congress wrote a letter calling on the President to correct his inaccurate statement, noting that the official national motto is In God We Trust. Not only did the President fail to issue a correction, he has failed to even respond to the letter. The uncorrected transcript of the Jakarta speech in which President Obama states, "In the United States, our motto is E pluribus unum -- out of many, one" remains on the White House website. E pluribus unum has never been the motto of the United States.
Misunderstanding of the phrase "Separation of Church and State". The First Amendment to the Constitution reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The words ‘separation of church and state’ do not appear in the U.S. Constitution. Rather, the phrase originates from a letter penned by Thomas Jefferson on January 1, 1802, to the Danbury Baptist Association. In fact, just two days after sending this letter, on January 3, 1802, President Thomas Jefferson attended a church service in the U.S. Capitol. The Supreme Court has held, “The First Amendment, however, does not say that in every and all respects there shall be a separation of Church and State. . . We find no constitutional requirement which makes it necessary for government to be hostile to religion.”
Rogue Court Challenges. Even despite the constitutionality of “In God We Trust” being established by the courts, just since 1996 there have been 7 direct court challenges to the motto. These cases are not isolated to one area of the country; instead, one-third of our federal circuit courts across the United States have heard appeals challenging “In God We Trust”. Some groups bringing these challenges directly seek "freedom from religion," a goal which grossly distorts the constitutionally-granted "freedom of religion." These cases have sought to challenge the motto itself, as well as its inscription on our currency and display on public buildings. In every case, the courts have upheld the constitutionality of the national motto. Other court challenges have been brought in recent years aimed at prayer in school, the long-standing displays of crosses at veteran’s memorials, the words ‘under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance, the National Day of Prayer, and the words ‘so help me God,’ frequently used to conclude the presidential oath of office.
Inaccuracies and Omissions in the Half-Billion-Dollar Capitol Visitor Center. In 2008, the over half-billion dollar Capitol Visitor Center opened for the purpose of educating over 15,000 Capitol visitors daily on the “legislative process as well as the history and development of the architecture and art of the U.S. Capitol.” When finally opened, however, Capitol Visitor Center historians had sanitized the public building of any references to our national motto, including replacing the inscription of ‘In God We Trust,’ inscribed above the Speaker’s Rostrum with stars in a replica of the House Chamber and cropping an actual picture of the chamber so you could not see the words ‘In God We Trust.’ Additionally, a plaque was placed in the Visitors Center falsely "educating" visitors the national motto was “E Pluribus Unum.” Only after Members of Congress intervened publically and legislatively were these omissions and inaccuracies corrected.
Efforts to Remove God from Public Domain. In recent years unelected government bureaucrats have become increasingly apt to remove, obscure, or bar references to God or our national motto, even when their actions reverse decades of long-standing traditions. In most cases, congressional intervention and pressure was required to reverse the decision.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs attempted to ban flag folding recitations at military funerals that referenced God or religion, even if specifically requested by the family of the deceased.
- The U.S. Mint attempted to remove the inscription "In God We Trust" from the front of the new Presidential dollar and instead print it on the edge of the coin.
- The National Park Service attempted to turn a capstone replica of the Washington Monument, bearing the inscription "Laus Deo" or "Praise be to God" so the public could not read it.
- The Navy and Air Force attempted to enact policies that would have affected the ability of military chaplains to pray according to their religious conscience.
- The Architect of the Capitol refused a teen's request for a certificate noting his grandfather's "love of God, country and family" to accompany a souvenir flag that had flown over the building - a decision that would have prohibited even the Pledge of Allegiance from being printed on the flag certificates.