Republican Sponsors Legislation to Reaffirm Godly Motto January 31, 2011

Republican Sponsors Legislation to Reaffirm Godly Motto

The official motto of the United States is “In God We Trust.”

It shouldn’t be, but it is.

And because Republicans (and a couple Democrats) in Congress apparently have no other priorities, Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) has sponsored legislation to… um… remind everyone that it’s the motto:

1st Session
H. CON. RES. 13

Reaffirming “In God We Trust” as the official motto of the United States and supporting and encouraging the public display of the national motto in all public buildings, public schools, and other government institutions.

Because if the public schools don’t have signs reading “In God We Trust” for the children to see, then our children won’t be able to learn. Obviously.

Cosponsors of the bill include:

Rodney Alexander [R-LA]
Spencer Bachus [R-AL]
Marsha Blackburn [R-TN]
Paul Broun [R-GA]
Michael Burgess [R-TX]
Jason Chaffetz [R-UT]
Mike Coffman [R-CO]
Michael Conaway [R-TX]
Geoff Davis [R-KY]
Bill Flores [R-TX]
Scott Garrett [R-NJ]
John Gingrey [R-GA]
Walter Jones [R-NC]
John Kline [R-MN]
James Lankford [R-OK]
Daniel Lipinski [D-IL]
Gary Miller [R-CA]
Mike Pence [R-IN]
Nick Rahall [D-WV]
Phil Roe [R-TN]
Mike Ross [D-AR]
William Shuster [R-PA]
Addison Wilson [R-SC]
Frank Wolf [R-VA]

(Dan Lipinski?! You’re one of my people — Democrat and from Illinois! What the hell are you doing?! You’re On Notice.)

The reason for the bill may be because President Obama said in November that the national motto was “E Pluribus Unum — out of many, one.” In fact, that was the old (and far better) motto which was replaced by the current one in 1956.

Forbes and other colleagues sent Obama an angry letter (PDF) after that.

Hopefully, other members of Congress will see this bill as a waste of time and it won’t leave the committee it’s currently in.

(Thanks to Brad for the link!)

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  • Two things. One, it’s a bullshit phrase that is overtly unconstitutional. I hope someone challenges it in court and gets it thrown out. After all, on what grounds can the religious rely? It has virtually no historical grounding, instead being rooted in anticommunism fears and religious promotion. In my lay opinion, opposition to the phrase could have a very solid legal basis. Two, it’s “and a couple of Democrats”. I used to do the same thing; I’m glad someone pointed out my consistent error.

  • Catinthewall

    “E Pluribus Unum” is the motto of a democracy or a democratic republic.

    “In God We Trust” is the motto of a theocracy.

  • Jon Peterson

    I don’t know why I held a hope that CA would have kept their hands clean of this (I mean, wtf Prop 8) but it was still rather disappointing to see Rep. Miller’s name on that list.

    Now to figure out his mailing address so I can write a letter about frivolous legislation, and some key ongoing issues that are currently unaddressed. /sigh

  • Zac

    You know what would be really funny? If this bill brought to attention how unconstitutional the motto is and as a result it gets replaced by a good one.

  • Iason Ouabache

    Mike Pence [R-IN]

    I’m not even surprised anymore.

  • Adam

    Honestly, secularism in America is becoming another civil rights issue. It’s like the conservatives in power are willing to break the law to keep the current social order, despite how wrong it is. And it seems it’s the same exact personality of people that were so against racial civil rights in the 60s and 70s and are so against the GLBT movement.

  • Peter Mahoney

    Didn’t Republicans in congress recently make a pledge that all new legislation would have to have with it a specific citation for what part of the US Constitution gives them (the federal government) the right to pass such legislation??

    Seems like this is a CLEAR case whether they would actually find that the Constitution goes against, rather than in favor of, what they are trying to do here.

  • Mihangel apYrs


    right up there with “Gott mit Uns”

  • Bob


    Make sure you’re not confusing Republican Gary Miller (42nd District, near Anaheim) with Democrat George Miller (7th District, North/East San Francisco Bay Area).

  • gwen

    I predict it passes, and is signed into law. There aren’t enough people in Congress with the balls to vote against it. If they did, the teapots will take their names down, rant and rave that they MUST be godless atheists, and throw their weight on getting them tossed out next time they come up for election.

  • WishinItWas

    Is it weird that when I email Hemant with a webpage and he posts it, I feel like I just aced’ a test?

    Thanks for sharing this with the community Hemant, I was on last night searching key words like “religion” , “same sex”, “military”, “Health care” just to see what was being introduced, and where their priorities are.

  • Bob

    Full Text of Legislation

    As expected, it’s the usual mash-up of historical ‘fact’ to push the ‘America is a Christian Nation’ meme, from conflating Jefferson’s reference to a Creator with the Judeo-Christian God, and ignoring his reference to nature and nature’s God.

    Forbes is also interpreting the phrase, ‘… firm reliance on Divine Providence’ as the equivalent of ‘In God We Trust.’

    And while his cited phrase is in the original poem of the Star-Spangled Banner, only the first stanza is performed and generally remembered. (The fourth stanza is supposedly reserved for formal occasions, but I’ve never seen or heard it performed.)

  • ACN

    You know what though, they are taking a risk here. By rubbing everyone’s face in it, they are making the supreme court’s “ceremonial deism” stance look increasingly ridiculous. If it does get signed into law, it will give FFRF an opening to claim “establishment clause” again and re-examine this.

  • Kerrie

    So both the Pledge of Allegiance and the nation’s motto had God put into them in the 1950s – presumably to aid us in our fight against the Commies. OK guys, the Cold War is over!

    It’s a vain hope, but I echo Peter’s comment above – maybe some Democrat with guts will stand up and demand that the Republicans cite exactly where in the Constitution it says that such a motto would be allowed. I think the Establishment Clause is pretty damn clear.

  • Sean

    I’m kind of relieved that my representative (2nd District of Florida) doesn’t have his name on this bill. Although, if it came up to a vote who would probably support it…

  • Nerdette

    There is a text line devoted to “answering questions about this bill”. So I submitted: “Doesn’t this violate the First Amendment?”
    I’d love to see that answered.

    No surprise two VA names are on there. We take considerable effort to undermine any “liberal tendencies” Jefferson had. Here in Fredericksburg, we have a weekend devoted to celebrating the signing of Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. When the my Secular Humanists chapter requested to speak this year, we were denied. So we asked about next year, but evidently they are fully booked then, too. So we asked about the next five years, and then we were asked to leave.

  • Pathetic.

  • Hmm, looks like a letter to my representative is in order. Let’s see if he’s bold enough to go against it (I’m in a democratic district of VA, so possibly.)

  • Our nation’s original official motto is “E pluribus unum” – “Out of many, one”. Given how religion is dividing this country, what the supporters in the 112th Congress are attempting is a destruction of what we stand for as a nation…turning a Constitutional Republic based on democratic principles into a more complete theocracy than W dreamed of. They are working diligently to undermine the founding fathers – and reasonable people of faith side-by-side with those of us who are nonbelievers – need to fight back.

    Most of us don’t have any problem with Christians adhering to their personal faith – so long as they don’t try to ram it down our throats. This type of attempt at legislation goes against the very principle of establishing our country’s establishment.

    Thank you for sharing this…I am posting it elsewhere AND will be contacting my represenatives in Congress. Such crap.

    On a sidenote – the people in support of this legislation? Are descendants of the very people who sided with the Crown during the Am Revolution, and the Confederates of the Civil War – recommended reading, for those unfamiliar: American Theocracy – by Kevin Phillips.

  • Chash

    Of course GOD in this motto is the acronym for Gold, Oil and Drugs.

  • Steve

    As a Brit, I am thankful we don’t have to suffer this nonsense but unfortunately, living under a Tory led government, who’s to say we won’t succumb to the religionists getting their own way? We already have creationist schools, shock, horror. Religion of any kind should have nothing to do with how we live our daily lives but you know the saying, what America does today, Britain does tomorrow!!! 🙁

  • Maury

    It’s kind of like saying the U.S. motto should be “whites only”… I mean, of course we accept other cultures, but our nations was founded by white people.

    It’s essentially the same kind of bigotry.

  • Jennifer

    But don’t you understand? This will create thousands of jobs! It’s for the children! [insert catch phrase of the day here]!

  • P. Coyle

    Our nation’s original official motto is “E pluribus unum” – “Out of many, one”.

    Actually, the earlier motto was unofficial — i.e., not specified under law as a national motto. “In God we Trust” was the first official national motto.

  • Mykelb

    The motto should be changed to “IN JOBS WE TRUST”. Our legislators need to focus on getting industry back to employing Americans. God isn’t going to do that.

  • P. Coyle

    Peter Mahoney writes:

    Didn’t Republicans in congress recently make a pledge that all new legislation would have to have with it a specific citation for what part of the US Constitution gives them (the federal government) the right to pass such legislation??


    It should be demanded of the sponsors of this bill that they demonstrate the constitutional warrant for their proposed legislation. There is, of course, no constitutional warrant whatsoever. The power to prescribe a national motto is not delegated to Congress in the Constitution, and this particular national motto is precluded by the First Amendment.

    If the sponsors of the bill cannot demonstrate the constitutional warrant for “reaffirming” In God We Trust, they should then be asked why the original 1956 statute should not itself be repealed as unconstitutional.

    What this would likely lead to is an attempt to write In God We Trust directly into the Constitution by way of an amendment.

  • Miko

    Nice. It’ll be interesting to see how they deal with the new requirement of citing the Constitutional authority for the bill their passing, because I’m pretty sure that this one isn’t in Article I, Section 8.

  • Cthuhlu

    Oh yeah republicans and more pointless legislation. I can’t believe some democrats have actually signed onto this bill. I also can’t believe that no one from my state is listed on the bill. Wisconsin went pretty much red this last election so i’m surprised i don’t see anyone from my state on that list.

  • Siamang

    Wow, I’m glad they had the time to get THAT all figured out. It must be because they’ve already fixed the fucking unemployment problem.


  • Blacksheep

    “In God We Trust” has been with us for a long time… Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled banner in 1814. The final stanza reads:
    “And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
    And the Star Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
    O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

    In 1864, the words were shortened to “In God We Trust” and applied to a newly designed two-cent coin.

    The US is not a theocracy, and In the long run, public opinion wins out – so I’m sure that eventually we will print, “E. Pluribus Unum” on our coins.

  • They should just say what they really think: “In Jesus judging correct beliefs we trust”.

  • Jason
  • ButchKitties

    Mike Pence [R-IN]

    I’m not even surprised anymore.

    Can we really expect better from a Congressman who panders to the religious right by attempting to revoke all Title X funding from Planned Parenthood, even though such defunding will INCREASE abortions by decreasing access to contraceptives… not to mention that the Hyde Amendment already prevents any Title X being used to pay for abortions

  • Rich Wilson

    I think the bill to re-define rape is probably a higher priority for outrage at the moment.

  • Gibbon

    It’s strange that they would suggest that “In God We Trust” is the national motto and not “E Pluribus Unum”, when it is the latter that is on the seals for the President, the Vice President, Congress, the House, the Senate, and the Supreme Court. In addition it is included on most US currency.

    How can “In God We Trust” be the official motto, with the exception of a piece of legislation, when the older motto has far greater representation in the official American symbols.

  • P. Coyle

    How can “In God We Trust” be the official motto, with the exception of a piece of legislation, when the older motto has far greater representation in the official American symbols.

    Uh, because it’s the law? That’s what “a piece of legislation” does, it makes something the law. U.S. Code Title 36, Subtitle 1, Part A, Chapter 3, Paragraph 302 states explicitly, “‘In God we trust’ is the national motto.” It was enacted into law in 1956 by Congress as Public Law 84-851.

  • Virginia

    Do you not understand that the rest of the slogan “In God We Trust” is “Everybody Else Cash” ? This is why it is on money silly!

  • Peter Mahoney

    If enough nonbelievers actually each spent 20-seconds per week putting an “X” across the word “God” on all our USA paper money using a permanent red-marker…. eventually would believers WANT to get the word “God” removed from the money, if only to keep “God” from being so publicly and blatantly “desecrated”.

    Given how often money changes hands, if even 1/2 a percent of the population performed such civil disobedience (in the privacy of their own homes/wallets), how long before MOST of the money actually said “In God we Trust”???

  • Young Contrarion

    The-various-gods-I-don’t-believe-in dangit! I didn’t vote for Rodney Alexander so don’t blame me!

  • runmore4

    I make it a habit of covering “In God We Trust” on the bills that come into my possession. Usually with a green sharpie so as not to make it look like graffiti.

  • Kate Incognita

    Ugh! … Michael Burgess [R-TX] is one of my representatives. He’s my mother’s former gynecologist. How weird is that! And there’s nothing I can do about it because the guy is very well liked.

    I knew there would be trouble when he responded to my ‘please uphold the separation of church and state’ email with the ‘constitution provides freedom of religion, not freedom from religion’ argument.

    Bah! Anyway. Don’t vote for Burgess!

  • kimmer

    This is comparable to being in a room of people who decide to pray. What does the only atheist in the room do? Walk out, complain, put up with it? No, I do not trust in a god nor do I believe in it’s existence and THAT is what America is all about. Freedom to believe as you wish! I am so relieve to see that Oregon is not on that list!! Now, what can we do to get them to remove the phrase “one nation under god” from the pledge of allegiance? That was added after the fact and never should have been done either!

  • Dan W

    Michele Bachmann isn’t on the list of cosponsors? And Steve King isn’t either? I’m surprised, those two seem like they’d be stupid enough to support this idiotic bill. Not surprised to see the Republicans trying to pass useless waste-of-time legislation, though.

  • If anyone starts a lawsuit, I’d happily sign on as an atheist objector to the clear violation of Separation of Church and State.

    Don’t have the time or ability to do more.

  • Lawsa are meant to be broken. 🙂

  • bob42

    Oddly when “in god we trust” first started appearing on money, both the Union and the Confederates insisted that god was on “their side.”

    I wonder which team god is betting on in the Super Bowl.

  • Mihangel apYrs


    unctious Blair was the one who overtly courted the religious to enable religious-based academies etc. I think the current Tory party is much more based in money.

    While the UK has a state religion and religion in schools, any politician who bangs the god-drum frightens the voters off, and anyone pushing religion in Parliament would be shot down in flames (though not necessarily in the Lords).

    Brits (and much of westren Europe) just don’t cleave to “god” in the same way as the US does. Making a show of church attendence and dragging priests into politics is considered ostentatious and “bad form”

  • coprogirl

    We should contact the only admitted atheist in congress, Pete Stark, and throw our support behind repealing this ridiculous motto. I will certainly contact my representative about this.

  • Roberto

    Do you mean a public discourse and expressions without religious references?

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