“In God We Trust” Resolution Is Divisive, Unnecessary

November 2, 2011

As you may have already heard, the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday approved a resolution reaffirming “In God We Trust” as the national motto.  The non-binding measure, H. Con. Res. 13, also promotes the display of “In God We Trust” in public schools and other public buildings. It passed 396-9, with 2 abstentions.

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) strongly condemns this resolution as a hollow, divisive, and unnecessary gesture toward monotheistic faith.  It is irresponsible and shameful for lawmakers to use faith as a political tool to divide the nation along religious lines, especially at a time when America is confronted with multiple pressing national issues.

Congress only adopted “In God We Trust” as the national motto in 1956, when American leaders sought to distinguish the United States from the communist Soviet Union.  Yet the motto ignores and reinforces the outsider status of the nation’s many nonbelievers, as well as members of minority religions that do not recognize a monotheistic god (including, for example, Buddhists and Hindus).  Polls show that 16 percent of Americans have no religious identity, while over 40 million Americans do not identify with a monotheistic God.

A far better motto for the nation is the Latin motto adopted in 1782 as part of the national seal: “E Pluribus Unum,” or “Out of many, one.”  America’s original motto accurately describes the nation as a unity comprising people from many religious and nonreligious perspectives.

H. Con. Res. 13 now moves to the U.S. Senate. CFI will track its progress and lobby against its passage.