In God We Trust

August 11, 2000

I guess it's a sign of the times that even the phrase "In God We Trust" has become controversial. Perhaps you have heard about the resolution before the Colorado State Board of Education asking public schools to display this simple motto. Atheists are up in arms, and civil libertarian groups are threatening to sue.

A little history is in order. The motto of the United States was first put on a coin during the Civil War. Congress passed the Mint Act in 1864, and President Lincoln signed the bill. The first coin to bear the motto was a two-cent piece. In the 1950s, President Eisenhower signed legislation putting the phrase on all our currency and making it our national motto.

Will the national motto be the next target for those who desire a naked public square stripped of any religious values? The controversy in Colorado suggests that it may be. Any school principal who decides to post the national motto may open the school up to a lawsuit.

If there is a lawsuit, there would be a significant constitutional question. Does the phrase "In God We Trust" violate the so-called separation of church and state? The Supreme Court has never ruled on the subject, but various appeals courts have allowed it to stand. What would be the reaction from the court this time? Have we become so secular that even the phrase "In God We Trust" is too controversial? I wonder what the High Court would rule.

This country was founded on Christian principles, and those who framed the government acknowledged their dependence on God. For them "In God We Trust" was not just a motto, it was the core of their belief. How sad that two hundred years later, we have to debate whether the phrase can be placed on the wall of a public school.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.