The Supreme Court has rejected a case to remove ‘In God We Trust’ from all currency.
Michael Newdow, an atheist activist who previously tried to remove ‘under God’ from the pledge of allegiance, argued that it was a government endorsement of religion and therefore a violation of the First Amendment to have the national motto inscribed on coins and notes.
Newdow, 65, a qualified attorney and physician, petitioned the court on the grounds that his clients rights as atheists are violated and turned into political outsiders by the phrase appearing on the money.
His petition was rejected by justices without comment.
‘Petitioners are atheists. As such, they fervidly disagree with the religious idea that people should trust in God. On the contrary, their sincere religious belief is that trusting in any God is misguided’ the petition read.
‘Defendants have conditioned receipt of the important benefit of using the nation’s sole “legal tender” upon conduct proscribed by Petitioners’ atheism (i.e., upon Petitioners’ personally bearing – and proselytizing – a religious message that is directly contrary to the central idea that underlies their religious belief system)’ it continued.
Coins in the US started carrying the phrase ‘In God We Trust’ in 1864, due to ‘increased religious sentiment’. In 1955, it was added to paper bills.
Newdow has been the face of many atheist campaigns, including attempts to stop prayers being read at the inauguration of President Obama and Bush Jr.
Newdow has suffered a string of defeats in the lower courts.
Last year, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to dismiss the case.
In 2016, Newdow filed the case to remove the motto from the money at federal court in Ohio.
He argued that the phrase should be prohibited from use on money in the 112-page document lodged with the federal court in Akron.
The lawsuit represented 41 plaintiffs from Ohio and Michigan, including many unnamed parents and children who are atheists or are being raised as atheists.
Defendants include Congress and various federal agencies.
It also claims that allowing the phrase to remain on US currency is a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.
This is the act that bans the government from ‘burdening a person’s exercise of religion’ except in scenarios where interest of the government is compelling or is the ‘least restrictive means’ of furthering a government interest.
In the court documents, nearly all of the references to the word God is styled as G-d.
The suit states: ‘”The ‘In G-d We Trust’ phrase has continued to be a tool used to perpetuate favoritism for (Christian) Monotheism.
‘It has also continued to perpetuate anti-Atheistic bias.’