The nation's foremost freethought group is suing the US Treasury, seeking to have the words 'In God We Trust' removed from American currency.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a Madison, Wisconsin-based freethought group, has filed the lawsuit along with 19 other plaintiffs in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, claiming violations of the First and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution.
The complaint alleges that printing 'In God We Trust' on US coins and banknotes is "proselytizing, discriminatory and a per se establishment of monotheism in violation of the Establishment Clause," according to FFRF.
"Plaintiffs are forced to proselytize-- by an Act of Congress-- for a deity they don't believe in whenever they handle money," says FFRF.
"The motto excludes atheists and other who don't believe in one god or a god. Because it appears on national currency and states 'In God We Trust,' the phrase necessarily makes full citizenship contingent on the belief provided. In the words of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, this sends 'the message to members of the audience who are non-adherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community.'"
"Our government is prohibited from endorsing one religion over another but also prohibited from endorsing religion over non-religion," FFRF Co-President Dan Barker said. "The placement of a monotheistic ideal on our nation's currency violates this stricture and is therefore unconstitutional."
In July 1954, Congress added 'In God We Trust' to US currency amid an atmosphere of rabid rejection of godless communism. 'Under God' was added to the Pledge of Allegiance and 'So help me God' was tacked on to federal oaths around the same time, as belief in God (implicitly a Judeo-Christian one) was equated with patriotism and non-believers faced widespread scorn and discrimination that continues in some circles to this day.
In the most recent challenge to the constitutionality of having 'God' in the Pledge of Allegiance, a Massachusetts judge ruled against a family who claimed their rights were being violated because their children took exception to the 'under God' portion of the voluntary pledge.