The motto "In God We Trust" that is on our currency seems to have been there forever. Even most atheists probably look at it and don't think much of it. They probably think that it has been there forever and isn't likely to change. Well, at least the former isn't anywhere near true.
The truth is that "In God We Trust" wasn't a motto of the United States until an act of Congress in 1956 made it so. This was primarily in opposition to the atheistic Soviet Union. "In God We Trust" didn't appear on paper money until 1957. And the first time it appeared on any piece of American currency was in 1864. Guess who's idea it was....yeah, the church. Let's take a look at that letter.
Letter by Rev. Watkinson written to the Secretary of the Treasury.
Dear Sir: You are about to submit your annual report to the Congress respecting the affairs of the national finances.
One fact touching our currency has hitherto been seriously overlooked. I mean the recognition of the Almighty God in some form on our coins.
You are probably a Christian. What if our Republic were not shattered beyond reconstruction? Would not the antiquaries of succeeding centuries rightly reason from our past that we were a heathen nation? What I propose is that instead of the goddess of liberty we shall have next inside the 13 stars a ring inscribed with the words PERPETUAL UNION; within the ring the allseeing eye, crowned with a halo; beneath this eye the American flag, bearing in its field stars equal to the number of the States united; in the folds of the bars the words GOD, LIBERTY, LAW.
This would make a beautiful coin, to which no possible citizen could object. This would relieve us from the ignominy of heathenism. This would place us openly under the Divine protection we have personally claimed. From my hearth I have felt our national shame in disowning God as not the least of our present national disasters.
To you first I address a subject that must be agitated.
Yeah, so we've got that fucking motto on our money because of some damn minister. Separation of church and state my ass. This has been argued in the courts a few times, but the judges often say that "In God We Trust" is not a religious statement, but a secular one. I don't think I need to explain why that is completely ridiculous.
If we did get rid of this motto, what could we use? Well, currently the U.S. actually has two official mottos. One is this religious-based one, which was added just recently. The other, if you remember it (you definitely don't see it as much) is "E pluribus unum" or "Out of many, one". Now which one of these mottos is constitutional? Which one of these mottos does a better job of uniting the country?
And now, what can we do? Well, the first thing is to vote out the Republicans in 2006. If the conservative republicans have power much longer they will have completely filled the judicial benches with religious zealots and then we'll be lucky not to have "In God We Trust" tattooed on our foreheads. Meanwhile, you can simply write over the motto on the currency. You can cross out the motto or write "Keep Church and State Separate" or "E pluribus unum" there. Other people have bought stamps to make it look more professional, and to steamline the process. You can typically buy these stamps online for under $5. Check out this website for legality and other ideas- Godoffmoney. This will at least bring attention to the issue, and the more attention it gets the more likely we'll be able to do something. I think most reasonable Americans take pride in our separation of church and state idea, having learned about its importance even in middle school. Maybe another individual will see your message and decide to do it as well, multiplying your efforts. And at the very least, it feels good.