The four-word phrase appears on all American currency.
The fact is, rather than God, the Trust lies in honouring the printed value of a currency note as promised by the signature of the U.S. treasury secretary.
God does not play any role in the legality of the legal tender.
So why does God’s commitment inscribed on all the United States currency, since 1938 on coins and 1957 on printed money?
It refers to the mix of politics and nationalism to coin the expression “in god we trust.”
It was initiated and still supported by the Christian nationalism that wants governments and people to “trust in God”; through the medium of money.
The paper money and the coins have thus become an ongoing vehicle to establish and promote the message that the United States is a theistic state who believes in God or trusts in God.
For that reason, the logo becomes the national motto embedding God’s commitment. But it appears nebulous and carries no monetary promise when displayed on all the U.S. currency.
Opponents of the phrase argue that it amounts to a governmental endorsement of religion and thus violates the First Amendment’s establishment clause.
However, federal courts have consistently upheld the constitutionality of the national motto. Whereas, in Judaism and Christianity, the official motto “In God We Trust” is not found verbatim in any verses from the Bible.
A 2003 poll stated that 90% of Americans support the “In God We Trust” inscription on the U.S. currency.
Proponents have extensively argued for the inclusion of the national motto in more settings, grounding it in the traditional invocations of God that they say have now become an element of civil religion and should express the will of the founders, who believed in God.
Over the years, from coins to paper bills, the national motto’s usage and presence have expanded to other visible mountings, especially on motor vehicle licence plates. Currently, about 24 states offer the choice without any additional fee. In God, We Trust is poised for more rides as more states are in line to get the national motto on the licence plates.
In God We Trust is more like an established tradition that is neither religious nor secular that cannot be masked, especially in the rising ultra-Right American culture.
-by Promod Puri