Keeping "In God We Trust" Off the Capitol Visitor Center

Rep. Dan Lungren wants taxpayers to spend $100,000 to engrave the words “In God We Trust” and the Pledge of Allegiance at the Capitol Visitor Center.

The House of Representatives thought that was a dandy idea, and they passed the proposal 410-8.

But not everyone in the US puts their trust in imaginary beings, so the Freedom From Religion Foundation is suing to stop it:

The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation Inc. sued this week to stop the engraving, accusing Lungren of trying to force his religious beliefs on as many as 15 percent of all U.S. adults. That comprises “atheists, agnostics, skeptics and freethinkers, none of whom possess a belief in a god,” according to the lawsuit.

“It really is a Judeo-Christian endorsement by our government, and so Lungren is wrong,” said Dan Barker of Madison, Wis., a co-president of the foundation. “Lungren and others are pro-religious, and they want to actually use the machinery of government to promote their particular private religious views. That is unconstitutional, and that’s what we’re asking the court to decide”….

Barker said that atheists regarded the phrase “In God We Trust ” as rude, uncivil and un-American.

“Tens of millions of really good Americans don’t believe in God,” he said. “In fact, there’s many more nonbelievers than there are Jews, and we wouldn’t think of offending Jews on our national monuments…. Why is it wrong to offend a Jewish minority but it’s not wrong to offend those of us who serve in the military and sit on juries but we don’t believe in God?”

I agree that the motto “In God We Trust” is unconstitutional. Not only is it  incorrect — many of us don’t believe in God or even if we do, don’t put our trust in him — it is using government to promote religion.

What do you think?

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  • Siberia

    I think it’s an awful lot of money dedicated to do something completely useless.
    I’d be more pissed about the waste of money than the endorsment of religion, tbh.

  • I dont collect stamps

    Stupid eisenhower administration. When I say the pledge of allegiance at school I usuall don’t say the “under god” phrase. It’s not even the original pledge.

    • DDM

      “It’s not even the original pledge” is a poor reason for disliking it. Plenty of things change over time, pledges included. Rather, it’s a horrible pledge because,if you say it, it forces the words “I believe in God” into your mouth.

  • Custador

    It also needs to be removed from the pledge of allegiance and your money.

  • Fentwin

    I’d be ok with this if they soent as much money to engrave “There are no gods” on the wall as well.

    But hey, that might offend someone. :/

  • Jeremy

    Actually, you guys should just drop your pledge of allegiance entirely. It’s creepy.

    • I dont collect stamps

      You know what your right it is pritty much nationalist. NATIONALISM IS EVIL. support the world not your country.

    • vorjack

      Actually, you guys should just drop your pledge of allegiance entirely. It’s creepy.

      I like it. It amuses me. It started as a little secular socialist prayer, written by a Baptist minister who got kicked out of his congregation for his socialist advocacy. But we put the words “under God” in it, and suddenly the right-wing will defend it to their last dying gasp.

      I suggest we update The Internationale and throw in the line “I love Jesus” in some late verse. I suspect it will go into heavy rotation on the Christian music stations.

    • TheWrathOfOliverKhan

      Yeah, after about 8th grade I refused to say it, mainly because I decided I was not going to take any loyalty oaths to anyone. And back then in the ’80s, this was a much bigger deal than it apparently is today. People noticed and I took some flak from teachers over it.

  • Francesc

    I don’t see the problem. Simply, someone has to write
    - “Wich god, between all of them?”
    or maybe…
    -”Should we trust in the guy who genocide fast all humanity?”
    “In God We TrustED, then we grew up”

    More ideas?

    • Siberia

      “Because my Imaginary Friend is better than your Imaginary Friend!”

      • Siberia

        Or, “Hail Cthulhu, for we shall be eaten first”

        • Francesc

          I’ve a new one
          “In God We Trust”
          “So did virgin Mary, and she got pregnant”

    • MahouSniper

      We need to accommodate the dyslexics. We should put “In Dog we trust.”

  • cypressgreen

    Bad enough it’s on money and in the pledge. Once it’s on somewhere, it’s almost impossible to go back. So it needs to be kept off from the start.
    Wanna waste the money? Try E Pluribus Unum.

  • cypressgreen

    Oh, and I’ve been Sharpie-ing “In God We Trust” off money lately after reading on line that others do it. It’s my little futile gesture. Since so little money passes thru my hands, anyway. LOL

    • MahouSniper

      You know, defacing U.S. currency is a crime.

      • Keith Watson

        So is violating my constitutional rights.

      • Ty

        I don’t think that’s entirely accurate.

        I believe that defacing currency with the intent to defraud is a crime. I don’t think damaging money is.

    • rodneyAnonymous
    • LRA

      I find it quite weird that Christians want “In God We Trust” on money when Jesus said that the love of money was the root of all evil. WWJD?

      • rodneyAnonymous

        Theodore Roosevelt thought putting “God” on money was sacrilegious.

  • Brian Smith

    Even if you believe in God, can you really trust him? I mean, look what he did to Job, just to settle a bet with Satan.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Rep. Dan Lungren wants to spend $100,000 to…

    That’s his own money, or he wants tax dollars spent on this?

    • Reginald Selkirk

      From the linked article: “If Rep. Dan Lungren gets his way, Congress will spend nearly $100,000 to…

      So I gather it is tax money he wants to spend, not his own. That makes it doubly wrong.

    • Fentwin

      If it is juts a matter of raising publ;ic funds, I suggest we take a collection then request that the following be forever engraved in ur capitol;

      And Jesus said unto them, “And whom do you say that I am?”

      They replied, “You are the eschatological manifestation of the
      ground of our being, the ontological foundation of the context of our very self-hood revealed.”

      And Jesus replied, “What?”

      • brgulker

        Lol, read Tillich?

        • John C

          Tillich is fairly cerebral in his writings. Some substance, but loads of academia as well.

          I trust my friend BR is doing well today, basking in the Light! Blessings sir.

          • MahouSniper

            Bask too much and you’ll get sunburned.

            That’s why I prefer the shade. It’s cool and comfortable.

          • brgulker

            Doin’ great, John. Hope all is well with you, too.

            If nothing else, Tillich is entertaining, because there’s just so much hippy culture that finds its way into his Systematic Theology. I should dig it off the shelf tonight …

  • Jay

    What do you expect politicians to do? Keep God in their HEARTS?! How will we know who to vote for?

  • Kodie

    I can’t believe it costs that much to do it. My first reaction.

    Anyway, no. This is our capitol building, this is like that prayer at school thing. Nobody is stopping anyone from praying in school and there is no reason to organize religious prayer times, or etch this stuff in the wall. That person who says once it’s on the money, it’s hard to get them to take it off or stop saying the Pledge at school. Leave it be, don’t make it worse! Some of your voters believe no such fairy story, ya dig? I stand for the pledge (hardly ever comes up) but I don’t say it. Nobody seems to notice.

    But anyway, this is hiring a graffitist. Now if security were low and someone just snuck in with engraving equipment, I would hope they would pay to have it repaired whether it say “In God We Trust,” In God We Just Don’t Think He’s There,” or “Sheila LUVS Donald 4EVA!!”

  • ya

    E Pluribus Unum is a damn fine motto.

  • Trey

    For some reason that I will probably never fully understand, there is a segment of society that *really* *really* wants to live in a Theocracy. It’s just what they want – almost more than anything. Even if this segment can’t really articulate why they want this, beyond an assumption that “believing government officials = good government officials”, although this has been shown to be false in several instances, or that “God will bless a Theocracy”, or whatever.

    I find it beyond ironic that the texts upon which most of this segment relies actually warned *against* installing a Theocracy, and on balance it didn’t turn too well, e.g. the Biblical account of King Saul, a later divided kingdom, etc. Also, these same texts indicate that God was not happy with the way these things were run on balance. And, you don’t have to look too far to see how modern-day Theocracies are run in other parts of the world, and the human rights abuses that result.

    “Oh”, they say, “but WE will be different!!!”

    Given the last few thousand years or so, I’m not convinced.

  • anti_supernaturalist

    . . . federal courts have spoken on IGWT before, and not favorably for non-theists. And “God” is not what most xians or non-theists think IT is.

    ** FfR probably won’t win — but it should fight anyway **

    US Courts have consistently held that ‘God’ in the notorious “In God We Trust” refers to a one-size-fits-all unique deistic divinity — IT, creator, sustainer of the universe consistent with Western tradition. (The use of IGWT goes back to its use on Union coinage during the Civil War.)

    I call it IT — since IT has no gender — IT is the Minimum Standard God, or MSG. This illegitimate ‘god of the state’ belongs to no religion. MSG is a hypothesized monotheistic entity.

    I expect US courts to trot out MSG as precedent for beating back atheists’ challenge to the ‘under God’ clause in the pledge of allegiance — MSG is today invoked before each Supreme Court session and each House of Congress opens with a prayer — recently delivered by a Hindu who was booed from the House Gallery by radical xian know-nothings.

    Courts will argue that the concept of MSG does not violate the establishment clause. Traditionally, Westerners have averred that MSG would answer their basic notion of a ‘god.’ The MSG concept is certainly non-sectarian.

    No one is legally obligated to equate MSG with that moral monster embraced by Dobson, Hagee and all fundies. Or, the merely xian “God” of C.S. Lewis. Or, “God” as Paul Tillich’s “ultimate concern.” And, deists can claim that their “God” has no more interest in the universe than the gods of Epicurus.

    Unfortunately, tradition also dictates that MSG exist. Tradition leaves open any god hypothesis, except of course denying the existence of a unique god however bland. (That is however “logically weak” or “pared down” the concept.)

    Still remaining outside MSG’s embrace: atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, Theravada Buddhists, Chinese ancestor worshipers, Shintoists, Hindus, Vedantists, Wiccans, assorted polytheists, devil worshipers . . . those few too principled to be hypocrites . . . and legions of the wholly indifferent.

    Millions are discriminated against — because they are not consenting monotheists.

    Demand “Freedom from Religion” — state neutrality, no support of monotheism, however attenuated. Like other hallowed traditions — slavery, Jim Crow laws, male only suffrage — IGWT violates both the spirit and the law as stated in Amendment 1 of the Constitution.

    Moving on . . . let’s see that the tax exemption be removed from all religious organizations which engage in political activities — roman catholicism, judaism, dominionist fundies would make a healthy start.


  • joshr

    Waste of money. Waste of time. Unconstitutional.

    • joshr

      Also, religion is a handy tool for the nationalists. Keeps their citizens afraid and their soldiers ready. Check out how many “god bless” and the like comments are here:

  • UU4077

    I wonder if they understand that they are also implying “In Allah we trust” and/or “In YHWH we trust”?

    • Daniel Florien

      I think we should start saying “In Allah we Trust” — the fundies would have fits.

  • ThisGodlessEndeavor

    $100,000? Really? I know plenty of masons who could do that job in a day or two for a couple grand.

    Assinine. How does anyone in congress have any free time to even suggest something stupid like this with our economy/country in peril like it is?

  • Olaf

    Cool, let’s also put some islamic verses next to the christian ones.

  • Olaf

    Even though I am 100% atheist, I just want to point out one point.
    This christianity is some cultural thing, so it would be foolish to get rid of all cultural parts.

    I hear some athisis blogs that they don’t like Christmas since it is some religious thing, but that would be foolish since it is also some cultural thing. Even though you know that this religion it is not true, you still have some romantic settings just like haloween. It is romantic if you pretend that there is some bearded guy in the sky that watches over you even though you know it not to be true..

    The Taliban did destroy old statues that did not conform to their religion, as atheist we should be aware not to destroy historical and cultural items because we do not believe.

    • vorjack

      We’re not after destroying old Christian monuments. We’re after making sure that the government doesn’t create new ones.

  • Zotmaster

    Hey, we could all just be like Sarah Palin, and argue that the Pledge should continue to say “Under God”…

    Question: Are you offended by the phrase “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why or why not?

    Palin: Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me and I’ll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance.

    • LRA

      She really is as dumb as a box of hammers, isn’t she?

      • Sunny Day

        As sharp as a bag of wet mice.

        • joshr

          She’s no rocket surgeon, that is for sure.

  • Beardman

    Your great GOV. prints money anyway just to be printing, 100,000 is nothing.

    • rodneyAnonymous

      I don’t care if it’s free, that’s beside the point.

  • Carmina

    This one is going to be an expensive, and unfortunate extension of already existing cultural bias in Congress and the government. While attempting to block it will probably not work, and the expensive carvings will happen; but speech against it having enough publicity may put a bug in the ear of the nation that even though there is a cultural minority of “non-believers” that it is still inappropriate to pander. “In God We Trust” may have become the national motto–it smacks of special pleading to claim that it’s a generic-”everyGod” which is why claiming “In Allah|The Morrigan|Zeus We Trust” is equally inappropriate gets dismissed–but the establishment clause still suggests that it is a scrim of religion, especially when there are people who, in fact, do not trust in any god, and therefore have no need for a reference to this “everyGod.”

  • Gaytor

    God only refers to the Christian God. Jews would write YWH instead of Yaweh. If talking with gentiles they would write Gd. Jews make up 2% of the nation and have never been more a part of it. This is a christian movement and we shouldn’t allow them to refer to it otherwise. Losing the case doesn’t meant that you are wrong either.

  • Melissa

    This is indicative of the pervasive ignorance of so many people. They believe we are a “christian nation” based on intentional lies from the likes of David Burton (don’t get me started on him!), not to mention if an elected official tells them something, they automatically believe it must be true. They think separation of church/state is anti-religion and they and the media perpetuate this kind of thinking when they refuse to learn even the most basic parts of our history. I hope the work of FFRF and AU continues to at least chip away at this overall ignorance. This foundation of ignorance opens the door for people who want their beliefs to govern all of us.
    This really pisses me off!

  • Paul Frank

    “What do you think?”

    For the greater part of this country, their moral foundations are religious, and the centerpiece of that religion is God as the absolute moral and religious authority. On the positive side, I think the inclusion of references to God on national monuments, pledges, money, etc. each serve to make a little moral connection between their personal moral foundations and acting as conscientious citizens of the United States.

    On the negative side, I think withdrawal of these connections once they have been established elicits strong visceral reaction. For a significant minority the attacks are not just against some letters chipped in a monument or printed on a piece of paper, but they are experienced as very personal attacks on how they have defined themselves in relation to their religion and their country. “God, country, and family [or whatever].” Something that is “the truth,” and they have defined themselves by this “truth,” as something to live and die for.

    To adapt the terms of a teacher I once heard, they have defined themselves as members of the “God club.” I think many visitors here may be members of the “No-God club.” And while these club memberships provide some meaning to life, they also too often are a source of division and conflict. People “know” the truth in their bones and defend it with their lives.

    While I don’t think the ideal is to be the member of any such clubs–(not that I would pretend to have accomplished this)–neither do I think the skillful response is to attempt to extract people from these self-definitions. There is no reason in principle that atheists could not be just as offended as theists by talk and actions of proponents of opposing viewpoints; I just think it is true that the collective offense to atheists/agnostics/etc of “In God We Trust” on monuments, etc.,.would be a fraction of the offense to many theists by their exclusion, not to speak of the positive social impact of their (slightly) strengthened moral/religious connections to conscientious citizenship by the inclusion of items. For many of them it is only with “God’s grace” that we are here.

    So like Obama recommended to Sgt. Crowley regarding the abusive Professor Gates, be the bigger person and walk away. Reading back over this I don’t know if any of it makes sense to anybody else, but since you asked, that is what I think.

  • Ben Newman

    God is the imaginary being for uneducated adults. Why spend that kind of money to engrave his silly name???

  • Miah

    I think that putting “in God we trust” on the capitol building is a wonderful idea! God is everywhere else in washington, except in Pres. Obama’s heart, of course. America is based in God and founded in God.

  • Miah G

    i think that putting “In God we trust” on the Capitol is a WONDERFUL idea! not only is God everywhere else in washington but America was founded in God and based around Christianity. :)

    LAUS DEO!! (as it says on the washington monument)