Supreme Court Rejects ‘In God We Trust’ Lawsuit

For the second time, a lawsuit brought by Michael Newdow has made its way to the Supreme Court… only to be dismissed.

Newdow famously tried to remove “Under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance in 2002, but the Supreme Court said in 2007 that he “lacking standing” to bring the case to them and dismissed it.

More recently, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled against him in his attempt to get “In God We Trust” off the currency, saying that “the phrase is ceremonial and patriotic and ‘has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion.’”… so Newdow appealed his case to the Supreme Court.

Yesterday, the Court refused to hear his case, effectively putting an end to this attempt at righting a wrong.

The phrase never should have been put on our paper money in the first place. But most people never care to learn about the history of that era; they wrongly attribute the placement to “tradition” instead of to a reaction to the “Godless Communists.”

No word on what Newdow will do now… when the Court dismissed the “Under God” case, he just filed it again with new plaintiffs. I don’t know if he’ll attempt that in this case.

One good thing about the case is that the coverage of it brings the issue to the public. Good reporters will give the facts about the case along with the historical reasons “In God We Trust” was put on the money, hopefully bringing light to the true story of what happened.

No, getting god off the money isn’t the biggest issue atheists face in America, but it’s a symbolic issue and we’re still on the right side of it.

***Update***: I asked Newdow about his thoughts regarding the Court’s decision and what his next steps would be. His response:

The denial of cert was expected, but it’s still a bummer.

Yes, I plan to bring the case again … and again … and again, until we get two Court of Appeals judges willing to uphold the Constitution.

Unfortunately, that may take a very long time.


  • Sue D. Nymme

    Did the Court give any indication whether there’s anyone, under any circumstance, who might have standing?

  • Marty

    I agree, who has “standing”? Only religious people think that the government making a positive assertion for the existence of god is not establishment. I can’t think of a more basic thing having to do with establishing religion than to say (assert) that god exists. I also am outraged at other people including me in the “We”. Last time I checked I was still a card carrying citizen too. I carry a sharpie everywhere I go and x out god on every bill I come across.

  • http://shadowgm.diaryland.com Bob

    When banks accept prayers instead of money, they can put God’s name on it.

    And it should be noted we’re on the same path as those ‘godless Commies’ – an overextended military, failing economy, fractious states. Somehow, that we’ve got ‘GOD’ plastered on our money doesn’t strike me as being of much value.

  • Phoebe

    I think it’s disgusting that “in god we trust” is on our money. “WE” don’t all believe in a god! It’s divisive and hateful to claim such lies. We just want it removed, we want secular money, it’s not like we want to replace those words with “god is a fictional asshole character in a retarded book” or anything like that. Money should be just money, not some religious objects.

  • vexorian

    Plus putting in “god we trust” in money is probably blasphemous for Christians who take that part of their holy book seriously.

  • http://www.youtube.com/aajoeyjo Joe Zamecki

    I like how Dr Newdow doesn’t give up. He has guts. I like guts.

  • http://denkeensechtna.blogspot.com Deen

    the phrase is ceremonial and patriotic

    You’d think that the government equating “God” with “patriotism” would already set off all sorts of First Amendment alarm bells.

  • Lynn

    *sigh* It’s why I continually mark out “god” on my bills and write “reason” below it. Totally wish I had the stamp that says “Federal Endorsement Of A Deity or Religion Violates the United States Constitution”!!

  • SeanL

    “the phrase is ceremonial and patriotic”

    Um does that mean I am not a patriot? D-bag.

  • Blacksheep

    Did the Court give any indication whether there’s anyone, under any circumstance, who might have standing?

    My understanding of “standing” is that a person bringing a lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of a law needs to demonstrate that the issue at hand is harmful to themselves in some real and specific way:

    Standing is founded “in concern about the proper–and properly limited–role of the courts in a democratic society. ” Warth, 422 U.S. at 498. When an individual seeks to avail himself of the federal courts to determine the validity of a legislative action, he must show that he “is immediately in danger of sustaining a direct injury.” Ex parte Levitt, 302 U.S. 633, 634 (1937). This requirement is necessary to ensure that “federal courts reserve their judicial power for `concrete legal issues, presented in actual cases, not abstractions.’ ” Associated General Contractors of California v. Coalition for Economic Equity, 950 F.2d 1401, 1406 (9th Cir. 1991) (quoting United Public Workers, 330 U.S. at 89), cert. denied, 112 S. Ct. 1670 (1992). National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. S 4331, et seq

    Add to that the fact that the majority of Americans like “In God We Trust” on their money and it’s a tough case. (If it said, “In Jesus we trust” my guess is that the case would have been heard and won).

  • OverlapingMagisteria

    I occasionally write “This implies atheists aren’t citizens” underneath “In God We Trust.” I feel that it makes people think about the reason that those words are an issue. Many people think that atheists are just being whiny and cranky in wanting to remove god from money and the pledge and don’t understand why people like Newdow make a big deal about it.

    It takes a bit longer to write, and, sure, some ignoramuses will see it and think “Damn right they’re not citizens!” but I think it also makes many people see it in a new light.

  • Peter Mahoney

    If just 1% of those who support the constitution’s separation of church and state would put a big red “X” on the word GOD on all our paper money, before long MOST money would have an “X” on their ‘god’ and then they would WANT their god removed if only to stop us from blaspheming him.

  • Rich Wilson

    The issue of standing was in the original pledge case, not the “In God We Trust” case.

    This issue is that his ex-wife has sole custody of his daughter, so he didn’t have the right to bring a case on his daughter’s behalf. I’d link to “Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow” in Wikipedia, but then I might end up in the spam can.

    Personally I don’t see how any American doesn’t have standing on these issues.

  • Steve

    For a good example of a complicated case of standing you should follow the Proposition 8 trial with regards to the standing of Imperial County.
    The CA AG decided to drop out of the case as proponent. So the religious tried to bring in some county clerk instead.

    On the face of it, it seems fairly obvious. He isn’t really involved and there is no harm whatsoever to him. But who knows what the court decides. And the briefs (especially by the opponents of Prop8) go through all the relevant legal stuff.

    @Blacksheep
    The US isn’t a democracy, but a constitutional republic. What the majority wants is absolutely irrelevant when it comes to the rights of minorities.

  • Rich Wilson

    He brought the case again, this time on behalf of three un-named parents, and the court (again 9th circuit) ruled:

    We hold that the California Education Code – 52720 and the School District’s policy having teachers lead students in the recitation of the Pledge, and having those who do not wish to participate do so with impunity, do not violate the Establishment Clause

  • Blacksheep

    @Blacksheep
    The US isn’t a democracy, but a constitutional republic. What the majority wants is absolutely irrelevant when it comes to the rights of minorities.

    Clearly, but only a fool believes that the majority voice doesn’t count for something behind the scenes and otherwise. I never said it was relevent, I said it was a tough case.

  • http://theehtheist.blogspot.com The “Eh”theist

    @Deen makes a great point

    You’d think that the government equating “God” with “patriotism” would already set off all sorts of First Amendment alarm bells.

    Perhaps this is where the US military got its idea to evaluate spirituality as a test of fitness. *rollseyes*

  • Anna

    I just don’t get the big deal. I don’t hold on to my money long enough to read it. I think their are more important concerns out there than what is on money.

  • RPJ

    I’d like to ask the court a few questions.

    If the motto on the currency were to be changed this year to “We submit eternally to the will of Allah” or “We are Godless”, would it be constitutional?

    Was “In God we trust” constitutional when it was applied 50 years ago?

    If the answers are “no” and “yes”, why? If the answers are “no” and “no”, then at what age does an unconstitutional policy become constitutional? If the government establishes an official church, criminalizes speech, bans all guns, or searches your property arbitrarily for long enough, does the Constitutional stop applying?

  • Nordog

    I guess we can agree that the courts get it wrong sometimes.

  • Defiantnonbeliever

    A dremel tool can grind it off coins, and a pen can edit it from bills. If enough people use direct action civil disobedience to deface money it will get the attention of the banks, treasury department, and people who pass it. Would this be effective at all or just generally costly I wonder?

  • martha

    I like the idea of the big red X through God on our money. Maybe we can have a “cross out God” day?

  • Kenny

    I started to put a red circle with a line through it on the word god. I’d love it if I got one that already had it crossed out.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    If the courts don’t think that a phrase on the currency causes anyone any harm, the treasury should set aside some percentage (maybe 20%) of the bills to have “In Reason we trust”. That obviously wouldn’t bother any religious folks according to the supreme court.

  • Steve

    It’s not just the currency that’s the issue. “In god we trust” was also made the national motto around the same time.

    They changed an inclusive motto (e pluribus unum) to an exclusive one. It’s mindboggling.

  • Rich Wilson

    @Steve
    Not quite. Although ‘e pluribus unum’ has been treated as a de facto motto, it isn’t the official motto. In God We Trust is.

    http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/mottoletter.asp

    I seem to recall there was bill introduced to ‘reaffirm’ the motto, but I don’t see it at the moment.

  • Steve

    Right. Now that you say it, I remember that. There wasn’t an official motto before 1956

  • Non-Litigious Atheist

    I applaud Mr. Newdow for making it harder for Democrats to affect real social change by pursuing trivial lawsuits like this. Let’s keep throwing red meat to plutonomists like Newt Gingrich:

    I have two grandchildren, Maggie who’s 11 and Robert who’s 9, and I do think one of the central issues of our dialogue over the next few years is what kind of a country do we want to leave to our children and our grandchildren?

    But for me, the real turning point was when the 9th Circuit Court decided in 2002 to — that it was unconstitutional to say, “one nation under god,” as part of the “Pledge of Allegiance” in a school.

    And I decided — in some ways I think it was very parallel to Lincoln responding to the Dred Scott decision about slavery, I decided that if we now have judges so fundamentally out of touch with America that they have no clue what this country was based on, we need a political change so deep and so profound that nothing we have seen in our lifetime is comparable to the level of depth we have to go to get this country back on the right track.

    (APPLAUSE)

    GINGRICH: Let me be very clear about this. Since 1952, we have won nine presidential elections for Republicans and Democrats won six. But despite the fact that Republicans were in the White House for 50 percent more time than Democrats we did not at a fundamental level change the power of the left, we didn’t change the bureaucracies, we didn’t change the biases of the judiciary. And over that period they have all gotten worse, moved further to the left and became more alienated from the American system.

    Yes, let’s pursue this until the end of time so that all the Newts out there can convince middle America that we’re moving further and further to the left when in reality (compared to Canada or European nations) the two US political parties represent the ultraconservative and the conservative.

    Liberal media? Please. The only liberal media around in the US is the Daily Worker, circulation 500.

  • Vanessa

    I’m glad this guy isn’t giving up.

  • Steve

    the two US political parties represent the ultraconservative and the conservative.

    So true!

    If you take the traditional, standard European party spectrum (where the whole left/right thing originated with the seating arrangements), the Democrats are hardly left – as in democratic socialists or even communists. They are center-left to center-right depending on the issue. The Republicans are far right, and indistinguishable from some modern Nazi parties in some aspects.

  • Rich Wilson

    @Non-Litigious Atheist

    Nope. Don’t. Agree. At. All.

    I can accept we all will prioritize this differently. But to play meek because we don’t want Alpha Dog to notice us guarantees our rights will continue to erode.

  • ButchKitties

    Plus putting in “god we trust” in money is probably blasphemous for Christians who take that part of their holy book seriously.

    In June of last year PZ linked to a poll questions whether or not we should remove the “under God” from the pledge. The poll allowed comments, and this comment from a Christian stood out to me so much that I copied and emailed it to myself.

    “Taking “under God” out of the pledge has absolutely nothing to do with taking God out of our daily lives. We shouldn’t need government assistance to think about God. The more we rely on the government to help us keep faith, the less meaning that faith has. God doesn’t want people to be forced to think of Him. He wants us to do it of our own volition. God knows what is in our hearts. Putting such a slogan on money or in our pledge isn’t done for God, it’s done so we can get credit for our piety from our fellow man. IGWT and “under God” have become about bragging rights and taunting non-believers, not love of God. Matthew 6:5, anyone? We should be ashamed of degrading our faith in this way.” (emphasis mine)

    Personally, I see the court’s ruling that “In God We Trust” is a ceremonial/secular statement is an admission that there are no gods. That’s the only way such a statement can be secular.

  • KP

    While I agree that the “god” language should be done away with, aren’t there bigger fights to fight against religion?

  • Darek

    saying that “the phrase is ceremonial and patriotic and ‘has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion.’”…

    How can the courts say this with a straight face? Not only does the reference to god exclude the godless folks, but there is never any doubt as to which particular god the phrase is referring to, so the muslims, jews and other heathens aren’t welcome either.

  • Non-Litigious Atheist

    @Rich Wilson: I think the issue is more vital than merely whether a person is meek or not.

    There’s something incredibly narcissistic about litigious atheists like Newdow. Why does his (or their) right not to hear two words in a meaningless classroom ritual – under God – outweigh the rights of countless down and out Americans to health care?

    If pushing for things like removing ‘under God’ (with almost no chance of success, even!) ends up giving health care opponents and presidential hopefuls like Newt Gingrich the political power to prevent universal health care from ever being available to really needy people, how is that a victory for anyone? I’d count that as a tremendous blow.

    So that litigious atheists are willing to gamble with other people’s absolutely essential health care (among other things) for something so trivial, that makes so little difference however it comes out – whether ‘under God’ stays or goes from a meaningless ritual – strikes me as incredibly narcissistic.

    Why are the rights of the oversensitive not to be offended more important than the rights of low income Americans to have their poor health treated, or to have preventative measures available to them to stay healthy?

    Put in this context, Newdow has some ‘xplaining to do. Why is he so nonchalantly willing to sacrifice the needs of the desperate to satisfy his own massive ego? Why is his sense of pride more important than their quality of life? You tell me.

  • Defiantnonbeliever

    @Non-Litigious Atheist-
    As I see it the Republican party is inexorably tied to the religion scam, kill it and you kill the party that bundles it with it’s other lies that convince people to steal from themselves. Of course the Democrats aren’t free of that but as long as it’s bad thieves vrs. worse theives, thieves still set the agenda, right now both in the name of the oldest con game, religion.

  • RPJ

    There’s something incredibly narcissistic about litigious atheists like Newdow. Why does his (or their) right not to hear two words in a meaningless classroom ritual – under God – outweigh the rights of countless down and out Americans to health care?

    holy non sequitors batman

    If pushing for things like removing ‘under God’ (with almost no chance of success, even!) ends up giving health care opponents and presidential hopefuls like Newt Gingrich the political power to prevent universal health care from ever being available to really needy people, how is that a victory for anyone? I’d count that as a tremendous blow.

    Sitting down meekly and accepting discrimination is obviously the way to go! Surely, if minority groups don’t speak up about their issues, raise public awareness, and engage the culture in change, then we can count on the majority to make major concessions! Surely a culture so thoroughly permeated by Christianity, such that few people even think about it, would have no problem with atheists, gays, other religions, healthcare and anything else that can be construed by conservatives as “antichristian, therefore antiamerican”!

    For certain, there would be absolutely no benefit to changing a culture dominated by christianity!

    Your shortsightedness is of no benefit to anyone.

  • L.Long

    What’s so bad with in g0d we trust?
    Lets see I would trust….
    the uber-rich CEOs that made such good decisions that they needed a bailout?
    Congress who tries to steal our money as taxes to throw it away by bailing out the guy above?
    Or a fictional character who will never steal or ask for any of your money?
    Now who would I trust???

  • RPJ

    Now who would I trust???

    It’s not about who to trust.

  • Brandon

    It seems to me the the only way we’ll be able to get “In God We Trust” off the currency is to first go after the nations motto. Until the motta changes there’s really very little reason for anyone to think it should be taken off the money.

  • Poyndexter

    This taxpayer, for one, is relieved. I would hope Newdow ceases and desists making an ass of himself but miracles are for believers.

  • Rich Wilson

    @Non-Litigious Atheist
    This isn’t an either/or choice. There are those who will remove health care, and de-fund planned parenthood, and teach evolution, no matter what anyone litigates. Heck, Obama says something about our ‘Sputnik moment’, and Sarah Palin blabbers something about spudnuts that’s completely meaningless, because she has to criticize him. It’s impossible for her to agree with him on anything. If not for Newdow, then something else will be the rallying cry.

    I’m perfectly happy to choose battles, and agree totally that health care is vastly more important than the pledge/motto. I just don’t think “it will get them upset” is any kind of criteria for deciding whether or not to fight a fight. If that were the case, then nothing would be worth fighting for, because all of it will make tossing them red meat.

  • Non-Litigious Atheist

    Sitting down meekly and accepting discrimination is obviously the way to go! Surely, if minority groups don’t speak up about their issues, raise public awareness, and engage the culture in change, then we can count on the majority to make major concessions!

    @RPJ: All the litigious atheists ever ask for are minor concessions. I’m not sure what a major concession to litigious atheists would look like. A major concession for all but the rich would be universal health care. I’m not convinced there are any major concessions to atheists to be gotten.

    There are plenty of ‘minority groups’ that don’t speak up about ‘their’ issues, raise public awareness, and engage the culture – the ugly, the fat, the bald, the short, the incontinent, the pagan, and on and on. Are they the worse for it? Maybe, but not by nearly enough to warrant the effort in consciousness raising, apparently.

    Surely a culture so thoroughly permeated by Christianity, such that few people even think about it, would have no problem with atheists, gays, other religions, healthcare and anything else that can be construed by conservatives as “antichristian, therefore antiamerican”!

    ‘Surely’ a culture so thoroughly permeated by beautiful, thin people with nice hair, such that few people even think about it, would have no problem with ugly, fat, or bald people. What’s your point?

    For certain, there would be absolutely no benefit to changing a culture dominated by christianity!

    Would there be benefit to changing a culture dominated by beautiful, thin people with nice hair? What about a culture dominated by extroverts? By tall people?

    Not everyone is treated equally, but not everyone who gets the short end of the stick makes it into a string of lawsuits, either.

    Your shortsightedness is of no benefit to anyone.

    Talk about non-sequiturs. Wiccans worship a Goddess, do they not? Why aren’t they banding together to sue over ‘under God’ given that they believe in a Goddess? What about non-theistic Buddhists? Maybe because they realize that the use or non-use of ‘under God’ doesn’t matter.

  • Demonhype

    *sigh*

    Small potatoes is never small potatoes, not in this kind of case. Two words in the Pledge that establish and endorse religious belief, and a national motto that establishes and endorses religious belief, in open defiance of the First Amendment, may seem like nothing, but it is not. Because it is propaganda, plain and simple, and propaganda often precedes more harmful discrimination and oppression. That is doubly important when you have a list of rights to piss through, like we have. The seemingly small endorsements pave the way for the larger constitutional violations, and even create “precedent” for the religiotards to justify their violations.

    I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve heard a religiotard support some kind of pro-Jesus issue, from Creationism taught as science to prayers in public school or public meetings, by saying “This is a Christian nation, and you can see the evidence on every dollar bill in your wallet/on the Pledge of Allegiance, and you should either just sit down and shut up, pretend to agree with me, or leave the country if you don’t like it.” It’s not just a couple of words that mean little to nothing–it is a part of the foundation of our increasingly religiously-controlled country, and it might be one of the most important parts of that foundation, since it is the one that convinces most of the religious-but-poorly-educated American voting public–the majority of which really think that “our Founding Fathers wrote the Pledge with ‘under God’ because they intended this to be a Christian nation, and if it weren’t for those damnable atheists and queers oppressing the Godly by demanding their rights be respected we’d have some kind of Jesus-based utopia by now!” Which is, of course, wrong on several counts, but will continue to be believed unless challenged–and as such, will continue to be the foundation of their support of a theocracy.

    When religious people stop pointing to the Pledge or the motto on the money as “evidence” that I need to shut up and accept larger and more damaging violations of my civil rights and citizenship without resistance, even to the point of them actively denying my citizenship or patriotism to my face, then maybe the “it’s just a couple words, it’s no big deal” argument will have a leg to stand on. Until then, I will continue to support Newdow in his endeavors.

  • http://billpg.com/ Bill P. Godfrey

    In god, wet rust.

  • Vas

    Newdow is after my healthcare!?!
    What an asshole, get the pitchforks,(perfect for attacking straw men).

  • Lion IRC

    Any atheists game to take their civil disobedience campaign to the words “endowed by their Creator” in the Declaration of Independence?

    I dislike the idea that God is mentioned on the dollar bills which change hands when people sell drugs, child pornography, weapons of mass destruction, worship mamon, etc.

    Abraham Lincoln’s big mistake.

    I would much rather see a picture of caesar’s head.

    But its worth remembering that the appellation to God on currency and other instruments of government was also implemented by rival “theist countries” both effectively claiming … Gott mit uns..

  • Steve

    The god in the Declaration of Independence is a deistic god and not the theistic, Abrahamic one.

    I really wouldn’t care of everyone believed in Deism. It’s a harmless idea for the most part. It satisfies mankind’s need for spirituality without the supernatural causes of control, fear and guilt. Though doubtlessly, organized religion could somehow pervert even that.

  • Dan W

    I think Michael Newdow, and others as well, should keep bringing cases on this issue to court, until we get some judges who will rule sensibly on it. “In God We Trust” on our money and “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance are clearly unconstitutional government support of monotheistic religion, and it irritates me that so many judges don’t get this!

    For many years now, I’ve used pens to cross out “In God We Trust” on any bills I end up having, and write in the old national motto, “E Pluribus Unum”- which means, “out of many, one.”

  • Lion IRC

    @Steve

    The god in the Declaration of Independence is a deistic god and not the theistic, Abrahamic one.

    You mean the deist God rested on the 7th day and the 8th and 9th and 10th etc. ?

    …got bored and wandered off after the 6th day?

    …was so irrelevant to Thomas Jefferson – such a “harmless idea” – that He was specifically referred to and used to underpin a foundation document with how many signatures?

    In God The deist God We Trust feel comfortable indifference.

  • PhiloKGB

    1) The Declaration of Independence was not written by any then-current member of the government of the United States of America. As such, one would assume that it does not fall under the purview of the governing documents which succeeded it.

    2) I would like to have the ‘Newdow’s pledge/money pursuits are too unimportant to pursue’ arguments explained further. Should every activist pursue only the most important cause available, or would, say, the 13th most important cause be acceptable?

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kev Quondam, Kevque Futurum

    @Lion IRC:

    Their Creator. THEIR Creator. Not Our Creator or My Creator or Yahweh. Do you not understand the subtlety of language? This doesn’t mean the Abrahamic God, this means the person’s own Creator, whoever they decide was their Creator. It’s an inclusive, not an exclusive statement.

    The Declaration of Independence is a beautifully crafted piece of writing and people like you cheapen it and point to it as a sign that Thomas Jefferson (a deist himself, who edited the New Testament to get rid of all the supernatural stuff, fix contradictions, and put things in a logical order) was putting Christianity as the foundation of American freedom – of which the first freedom is the freedom from the establishment of a religion.

    (Also – it was Eisenhower’s mistake, not Lincoln’s. “In God We Trust” was put on our money in 1956.)

  • Blacksheep

    @Kev,

    (Also – it was Eisenhower’s mistake, not Lincoln’s. “In God We Trust” was put on our money in 1956.)

    Pretty sure it was on Lincoln’s watch:

    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.

    It’s interesting that you mention deism. Most people I encounter on forum believe that even deism is the ridiculous belief in “sky fairies” etc. Are you defending deism? because I thought that atheism was the absence of belief that any deities exist.

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kev Quondam, Kevque Futurum

    @Blacksheep:

    Ah, yes you’re right. My mistake. It was adopted as a motto in 1956, but put on coinage much earlier (paper currency wasn’t until 1957.) I read the first sentence on the Wiki, but didn’t read the following one.

    As far as Deism is involved, it is as much a religious belief as others, but I find it less ‘wrong’ than Christianity. Deists at least make the decision that they can’t know the form and function of their god. It is a wishy-washy belief in “sky faeries,” but I’m not as upset with Deists as I am with Christians. Deists seem to have a more ‘live and let live’ attitude.

  • Brian

    Every atheist who must be in court for ANY legal procedure–parking ticket, making a deposition, housing squabble–must point out that he cannot get fair justice in a place with “In God We Trust” on the premises. Squawk and squawk loudly.

  • Blacksheep

    @Kev,

    I’m a Christian – but I would be lying if I said I didn’t understand where you’re coming from.

    (My history lesson was from wiki as well – I had heard it was Lincoln but didn’t know the details)

  • Blacksheep

    Every atheist who must be in court for ANY legal procedure–parking ticket, making a deposition, housing squabble–must point out that he cannot get fair justice in a place with “In God We Trust” on the premises. Squawk and squawk loudly.

    That’s your position – but for the most part I would rather be in court in a Judeo-Christian based country than the alternative. You can take your chances in China, Russia, North Korea, or Iran. The first three put science over God, so you should be OK! :)

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kev Quondam, Kevque Futurum

    @Blacksheep:

    Deism is the belief that a creator made the universe – without any specific identification of a deity or a specific adherence to a specific religious text, sect, or ritual. It’s somewhat non-supernatural, doesn’t rely on miracles or prophecies. The creator doesn’t interfere with humanity or creation – just his initial creation of the universe and that was it.

    It’s the least religious religion, and no Deist has ever told me “you’re going to Hell if you don’t believe in my god” so I don’t get as upset with Deists as I do with Christians.

  • Steve

    I defended deism because ideally it causes far less harm than theism. Yes, it’s still wrong, but it’s simply not as dangerous. It only has a god to explain where the universe and maybe mankind came from. That’s pretty much it.

    But it does away with the absurd and revolting aspects of Christianity. Most importantly, it doesn’t have a god who his interested in every minute detail of your life. A god who cares when you work, what you eat, and who you have sex with in what position. It robs priests of many of the supernatural control mechanisms that they use to induce guilt and shame in people (and children) just so they come back for the alleged cure.

    Most of the reasons why so many people want to believe in a god can easily be satisfied with deism. There is no reason at all for theism. Especially if people only have the cosmological argument to fall back on.

  • Peter Mahoney

    I like Martha’s idea of a “cross out god” day!

    Are there bigger battles? Yes… BUT that does not make this one less noble.

    Also, most individuals don’t feel empowered to dramatically change overnight the foolish beliefs in superstitions/religions, BUT each of us could put an “X” or “circle with a slash” through god on our currency. It is a no-cost or low-cost gesture that makes its point clearly, sending a message to theists and fellow atheists, that we ARE out here and we do NOT want our constitution ignored.

    How do we start “cross out god Day”???

  • TikiCricket

    Peter,

    Open your wallet, grab a Sharpie, and we’ve begun! :) I only had 2 bills, but hey, it’s 2 more for trust in “Reason” and 2 less for “God.”

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kev Quondam, Kevque Futurum

    I already did it ^^ Two five dollar bills with black sharpie through the word ‘God’

  • Defiantnonbeliever

    A note of caution
    A quick search found this
    http://www.positiveatheism.org/mail/eml9613.htm
    If one happened to have one bill or coin from who knows where in one’s wallet and passed it in good faith that it was legal tender I wouldn’t think there would ever be a problem. I’m not a lawyer or a prosecutor so don’t know if a video of one paying for something with several bills with similar markings could lead to court cases, fines and prison or not.

  • DocShinobi

    That’s horse hockey. The god that is being referenced in the pledge, and on the money, and in the national motto is a product of Abrahamic Religions! Without them, Yahweh or Allah, or Jehovah or whatever you wanna call him would not exist.

    This is the United States getting around the Constitution it, itself wrote by saying
    “Oh this isn’t referencing religion.”

    I guess that’s easier than changing the wrongdoing.

  • Peter Mahoney

    @Defiantnonbeliever, thanks for the link… but…
    note that it is ILLEGAL to deface U.S. money (and here is the CRUCIAL part): “with intent to render such item(s) unfit to be reissued”.

    Putting an “X” or “slash circle” on “god” does NOT render it unfit to be used.

    In fact, our goal would be that the money gets used LOTS after it is marked… to spread the blasphemy around.

    Summary:
    1) I do NOT think it is illegal to cross out god on money.

    2) Even if it was (which I don’t think it is) then this would just be a mild form of civil disobedience that would shed light on the issue that ‘god’ should not be on our money.

  • Lion IRC

    Hi Kev Quondam,

    I don’t understand your distinction between “THEIR Creator” and “OUR Creator” or “MY Creator”. It specifically says “all men are…” How is this inclusive of men who think they do not have a Creator? How does this include men who don’t believe in any such thing as “the protection of Divine Providence”.

    Anyway, the point is moot because atheists are free to both object to or ignore the wording depending on the degree of their own anti-god, anti-religious sensitivity.

    It’s a bit like the atheist in .au who recently made the news because of a dubious civil law objection he had to the sight of a wooden Cross his next door neighbors front yard that he was occasionally forced to look at. (No hes’s not a vampire but he sure is lucky he doesn’t live in Rio de Janeiro.)

    If I was an atheist, I can’t imagine why the sight of a Cross would provoke anything but indifference. Likewise, if I was an atheist opening my secular wallet, at the secular Walmart, to pay for my new secular microwave oven, the word God appearing on a secular $50 note wouldn’t ruin my secular shopping experience.

    And PhiloKGB, I don’t think you can so easily dismiss an institutional foundation document, signed by people like Jefferson, which includes the words…we hold these truths to be self evident – so self-evident that, as SCOTUS presumably agreed, they transcend temporal (petty) politics of the kind where someone says…”hey look everybody, , the State is trying to establish religion, we better do something about this”. If they hold that it “has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion” it’s probably because it hasn’t made an ounce of difference to Church and State separation for the past 150 years and wont for the next 150 either.

    LOL @ Defiantnonbeliever. “….could lead to court cases, fines and prison… “
    I think it’s a crime in Australia to deface legal tender as well but are you trying to take the “dis” out of civil disobedience? That’s no fun.

    Lion (IRC)

  • http://www.whirledbulletin.blogspot.com/ Jeff B

    On Facebook there has been one of those “repost” campaigns for people who support the Pledge of Allegiance, and the last line of it says something like this.. “repost this message, let’s not care who gets offended.” So after seeing it about 10 times I wrote a piece on my blog about the pledge (if you click on my name there’s my blog). And then i sent the link to the people posting these messages. Well my blog has some slightly offensive language in it and some people were offended by it. haha! i say to them, I thought the point of this exercise was not to care who gets offended by your position? lol. Anyway, such hypocrits, but what else do you expect?

    Also, I faithfully cross out “in god we trust” on every bill. I would like to get one back sometime already crossed out, but haven’t yet. Come on brothers and sisters, let’s step it up!

    • Jack

      Yeah you really showed them.

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kev Quondam, Kevque Futurum

    @Lion IRC:

    I don’t understand your distinction between “THEIR Creator” and “OUR Creator” or “MY Creator”. It specifically says “all men are…” How is this inclusive of men who think they do not have a Creator? How does this include men who don’t believe in any such thing as “the protection of Divine Providence”.

    The fact that you don’t see the distinction is obvious. If the Declaration said “their Parents” would you think it meant a single set of parents or that one person’s parents? It poetic wording that even an atheist like myself finds wonderfully well-written. Even if it’s not (necessarily) inclusive of atheists, it’s inclusive of Theists and Deists of every stripe – Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, other religions are all covered by the words “their Creator”. So no, America was not founded on Christianity – it was founded on inclusion of everyone’s beliefs.

    Also – “Divine Providence” is Deist terminology for their Creator.

    Anyway, the point is moot because atheists are free to both object to or ignore the wording depending on the degree of their own anti-god, anti-religious sensitivity.

    I don’t have anti-god or anti-religious sensitivities. I have anti-religion-in-my-business-and-government sensitivities, yes. I’m sure you’d express the same sensitivities if you were being forced to follow laws that you don’t agree with that are espoused by a religion you’re not. What if Jewish or Muslim persons controlled the government and tried to pass a law to ban all pork products?

    It’s a bit like the atheist in .au who recently made the news because of a dubious civil law objection he had to the sight of a wooden Cross his next door neighbors front yard that he was occasionally forced to look at. (No hes’s not a vampire but he sure is lucky he doesn’t live in Rio de Janeiro.)

    Actually, this is nothing like it at all. The Australian was wrong. The cross was on private land. If the neighbor put the cross in such a way to be intimidating or purposefully offensive to the man, then yes, I could see the problem with it. If the cross was set up just so it was there, then the man is completely wrong. It’s not private land we care about, but public and government land.

    If I was an atheist, I can’t imagine why the sight of a Cross would provoke anything but indifference. Likewise, if I was an atheist opening my secular wallet, at the secular Walmart, to pay for my new secular microwave oven, the word God appearing on a secular $50 note wouldn’t ruin my secular shopping experience.

    The sight of a cross doesn’t bother me one bit. The sight of a cross placed on government land however, is an explicit statement that “your beliefs are not wanted here.”

  • Lion IRC

    Kev Quondam said…

    I’m sure you’d express the same sensitivities if you were being forced to follow laws that you don’t agree with that are espoused by a religion you’re not. What if Jewish or Muslim persons controlled the government and tried to pass a law to ban all pork products?

    I wouldnt follow any law which asked me to disobey God.

  • ACN

    Successfully missed the point. Kev was trying to get you to think about if positions were flipped, would you like the government endorsing a religion that you were not a member of. No one would like that, and no one should feel like the government is dictating religious beliefs to them. As a result, perhaps the best course of action is for the government to avoid even the appearance of endorsing ANY religion. Keeping its fingers completely out of the religion pie as it were.

    Moreover, very doubtful. If you were convinced that god told you to kill someone, you would almost certainly not do it. Statistically, you’re likely to be a much better person than that.

  • PhiloKGB

    Lion IRC, let me be clear anew, as I was in fact clear before. The Declaration of Independence was not written by members of the United States government. This is a fact incontestable, even by you. Presumably, this is why you fixate with heat-seeking tenacity on the symbolism of “their Creator.” Symbolism has its time and place, but your unwavering desire to establish the Colonial primacy of Christianity based on two words is exceedingly tiresome.

    In any case, were you to momentarily avert your attention from visions of a zesty fusion of Jesus’n State, you might notice that Jefferson went on to thoroughly undermine the rights-giving contributions of “their Creator” by invoking Government as the entity that actually does all the dirty work and Men as the body that keeps Government honest.

  • http://hoverFrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    England is, at least officially, a Christian nation. Our head of state is also the head of the Church of England though in fact she is nothing more than an anachronistic figurehead.

    We have Darwin on our £10 notes.

    I wonder sometimes if the separation of church and state might have granted too much immunity to the church. Our church has power (we have Lords Spiritual in the legislature) but most people aren’t church goers so their power is usually quite limited. Your church, legally, has no power but the religious right still manages to overturn state laws and interfere with secular government on a regular basis.

    It seems that the wall of separation between church and state only works if it is rigorously enforced. It does no good to have one side obey the law while the other ignores or sidesteps it. It is only through the constant challenge to this flouting of the law that this wall will stand.

  • Natalie Correa

    Do any of you even know what the definition of TRUST mean??

  • Joshua Hall91

    i perfer to cross the word “God” out and write the words “the american constitution”.

  • Bunnybootscoot

    KeeP up the great work! Behind you 100%!

  • RealHosskats

    Life would be a lot better if we all learned some tolerance. I don’t freak out because they printed “Hanukkah” on my calendar, even if in my history the Jewish leaders were instrumental in having Jesus executed. You can’t see the forest for the trees…

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001621926823 Catherine Tobia

      Exactly! People have way to much time on their hands. Believe what you will, or choose not to believe. That is the foundation of wisdom. You got that choice. But along with your right to believe(or not to believe) there must be tolerance for opposition. We got much bigger fish to fry in this country, what is written on a scrap of paper isn’t one of them! Unless of course you have so much time on your hands that it matters.

  • marla

    you’ll never succeed

  • http://twitter.com/JCarlB John B.

    Perhaps you should actually read the Constitution. Nowhere does it state “freedom from religion”. It’s “freedom OF religion”. Having “In God We Trust” does not constitute a congressional act establishing a religion. Had it not been for God blessing this country, we would still be British subjects. Get over it.

  • Jack

    Why does it bother you so much?

  • therain

    “on the right side of it”, sure, in your minds


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X