Been thinking a lot about our national motto – In God We Trust. Frankly, I think I forgot it was more than a phrase on our money and that it had been selected as our national motto. Oops…
It first appeared on US coins in 1864, when it appeared on the 2 cent coin. It was after the Secretary of Tresury Salmon Chase received requests for the US to recognize the Diety on coins. That first letter came to him in 1861 and it was not long after that he directed the US Mint in Philadelphia to prepare a motto. In his letter to them, he said,
“No nation can be strong except in the strength of God…the trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins. You will cause a device to be prepared without unnecessary delyay with a motto expressing in the fewest and tersest words possible this national recognition.”Solomon Chase, Director of Treasury 1861
After legal issues were settled, on April 22, 1864, In God We Trust first appeared on the 2 cent coin. In 1873 The Coinage Act stated that it may be inscribed on other coins. By 1938 all US coins bore the motto.
Then on July 30, 1956, the 84th Congress approved IN GOD WE TRUST as the national motto and President Eisenhower signed the bill. In 1957 the national motto was first used on US paper money.
Fast forward and look at the tremendous change in American thinking:
- 1984 – the courts use the phrase “ceremonial deism” to say that the motto “through constant use has lost it’s religious content and is no longer religious in nature.”
- 1994 – The Freedom From Religion sued the federal government to have In God We Trust removed from currency.
- 2006 – CA Court of appeals – “the national motto… has no theological or ritualistic impact and is purely secular, patriotic and ceremonial in character.”
- 2019 – The American Athiests condemned the North Dakota bill allowing the display of the national motto in public schools.
There’s so much more, but I don’t want to loose you in the History.
It has become apparent that not everyone agrees that In God We Trust. So I ask, what do YOU trust in? Money, friends, family, self, God…
Trust is the basis of all human systems of morality. Upon what do you build that trust? I don’t care if it’s “Affective trust” – trusting with your heart, or “Cognitive trust” – trusting with your head. Psychologists say those are the 2 kinds of trust, so pick one or the other, or both.
At the bedrock of your life, my life, what’s there to attach trust to? In the stresses and storms of life, what holds me secure? When loss and pain overcome me, who/what do I take it to? When the Coronavirus scares me and threatens my loved ones, who or what strengthens and comforts me? What do you trust in for confidence, strength, hope, comfort, support?
I think that Secretary Chase, President Eisenhower and millions of others through the ages actually got it right. But that’s my opinion, my belief. It is also my purpose for writing this and my hope – that you, too, will trust in God.
In God We Trust.
Cheers to you.