Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Another atheist $etback — ‘In God We Trust’ can stay on money
First Published May 28 2014 04:33 pm • Last Updated May 28 2014 04:33 pm

Atheists lost their case against the "In God We Trust" motto on the nation’s currency Wednesday.

It’s a battle they have lost several times before as court after court has affirmed that printing and engraving the country’s motto on its money does not violate the U.S. Constitution.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The plaintiffs, a group that included humanists and minor children, argued before a federal appeals court that the words amount to a government endorsement of religion, disallowed by the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. They further held that, forced to carry around a religious statement in their pockets and pocketbooks, their constitutionally guaranteed right to freely exercise religion is being violated.

But the three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York noted that the courts have long looked at the motto not so much as the entanglement of government in religion, but as a more general statement of optimism and a "reference to the country’s religious heritage."

The decision in Newdow v. United States of America pleased those who have worked to protect religious expression in the public sphere. "Americans need not be forced to abandon their religious heritage simply to appease someone’s animosity toward anything that references God," said Rory Gray of the Alliance Defending Freedom.

But it frustrated those who see religion creeping into places where they believe church and state should be separated. The group American Atheists, which was not a party to the suit, said the court’s reasoning — based on historical acceptance of the motto — is faulty.

"Tradition is a terrible excuse for any behavior," said American Atheists spokesman David Muscato. "If we allowed ‘tradition’ to guide our views, what else would we uphold — slavery, denying the vote to women? The simple fact is that ‘In God We Trust’ has no rightful place on currency in the United States, a country with separation of church and state, and it never has."

Atheists have seen a spate of unfavorable rulings lately. Last week a federal court in Kentucky rejected atheists’ suit against the IRS, for the many breaks and privileges it offers churches and religious organizations. And in the 5-4 Greece v. Galloway ruling earlier this month, the Supreme Court affirmed that government bodies may convene meeting with highly sectarian prayers.

The 2nd Circuit also questioned the atheists’ objection to money that forces them "to bear on their persons … a statement that attributes to them personally a perceived falsehood that is the antithesis of the central tenant of their religious system." The atheists had reminded the court that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act requires the government to prove that it has gone to great pains to avoid so burdening religious expression.

"We respectfully disagree that appellants have identified a substantial burden upon their religious practices or beliefs," the judges responded.


story continues below
story continues below



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.