In God We Trust. This simple motto of our nation has appeared on our money since 1864 and guided our principles since Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence.
Now, after over 150 years of Trusting in God with our currency, the militant atheist group Freedom From Religion Foundation has petitioned to have our national motto removed from police cars nationwide.
Calling the motto exclusionary to non-religious people, the Foundation sent letters to precincts in 11 different states requesting that the words be removed from patrol cars.
The controversy over the stickers got a significant boost in national interest when Missouri sheriff Doug Rader released a public message late last month stating in part:
“I am proud to announce that all of the Stone County Sheriff’s Office Patrol vehicles now have ‘In God we trust’ on the back. This became our National Motto in 1956 and is on all of our currency. There has been no better time than now to proudly display our National Motto!”
Rader received a storm of critical response to the announcement, but dismissed the complaints as being from far out of his state.
In response to the FFRF’s letter, the Alliance Defending Freedom issued a counter-epistle to the same police departments, reminding them that they have Constitutionally protected rights to speech as well.
The ADF’s missive stated ““FFRF wrongly claims that it is ‘inappropriate’ for members of your team ‘to promote their religious views’ by displaying our national motto. We write to inform you that it does not violate the First Amendment for your team to continue displaying the national motto on department vehicles and to offer our assistance if FFRF or any other atheist group threatens your department with litigation over the use of ‘In God We Trust.’”
FFRF has lost cases over the motto in courts previously, including as recently as 2014, when US courts confirmed jurisprudence reaching back to 1970s regarding the legality of our national motto on our currency and in public places, including classrooms. In fact, since 2010, more courts have refused to hear challenges to the motto than have entertained them.
The original case challenging the motto was Aronow v. United States, heard in 1970. The majority opinion read in part “It is quite obvious that the national motto and the slogan on coinage and currency ‘In God We Trust’ has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion. Its use is of a patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no true resemblance to a governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise.”
This case law has repeatedly withstood scrutiny. So for now, it is safe to put “In God We Trust” into the public sphere – until the radical left finds another avenue to attack it from.