A group of Atheists in Ohio has filed a federal suit to get the slogan “In God We Trust” off of the money. The attorney leading the group of 41 atheists, Michael Newdow, also sued to get “under God” out of the Pledge of Allegiance, although that campaign ended unsuccessfully. The plaintiffs are people that handle money everyday. Newdow is arguing that handling the money that has “In God We Trust” on it imposes on them every time they do so.
He argues that the plaintiff is having to spread a message she doesn’t believe in everytime she handles U.S. currency:
“Rather, her beliefs require that she trust in her own abilities and a general responsibility to lead an ethical life. In handling the money, therefore, she is repeatedly unwillingly confronted with the words ‘In G-d We Trust.’ Thus, she is forced against her will to accept and re-distribute to others a message that goes wholly against her beliefs. Yet it is neither realistic nor reasonable for her to abandon the nation’s currency and use other forms of payment for all of her transactions.”
Naturally, he has rustled a few feathers among Christian groups. We have a constitutional guarantee to the separation of church and state despite what the fundies try to say. This time, the Christians are saying he is trying to tear down our nation’s motto. No matter how many times conservative groups say it, we are NOT a Christian nation.
But, is it really our motto? It has not always been on the money. It was first put on coins in 1864 during the Civil War. It did not make it to the paper money until the 1950s.
There is a deeply ingrained distrust of Atheists in our culture. Research at Nottingham Trent University has concluded:
“Anti-atheist prejudice is not confined either to dominantly religious countries or to religious individuals but rather appears to be a robust judgment about atheists.”
They told a hypothetical story of a man finding a wallet on the ground and taking the money. The participants were told to guess what religion the man is. Most thought that the man was an atheist. We need to get the word out that not all atheists are bad. Taking God out of our money is a great start to a more inclusive society.