If USA is a secular country, how come "in God we trust" is written on its money?

The Constitution prohibits the establishment of a religion. The Congress passes laws that run all the way up to the line and dance around it and in some instances cross it because they don’t take their oath to uphold the Constitution seriously. It is then the job of the courts to strike down those laws, which the courts sometimes do, and sometimes do not, depending on their whether they are farting upwind or downwind.

“Ceremonial deism” sounds like a synonym of “religious ritual” to me. But I’m an idiot.

Because the US isn’t really a secular country, obviously. We have a separation of church and state, but the majority of US citizens believe in God (whatever that term means to the individual conceptualizing the term). The ‘In God We Trust’ (and everyone else pays) thingy is just a hold over of that…as is the fact that Christmas is a Federal holiday part.

The point wasn’t to remove all the trappings of religion from US society, merely to separate the powers and run the government so that there wasn’t a church (Christian) component formally in the government. Religious freedom and all that. It wasn’t supposed to be religion free…that’s more a modern concept. You have to look at the problem the Founding Fathers were trying to ‘fix’, and look historically at how the various nation states at the time (and even today) were directly connected to The Church™ and had direct powers in the governments of the time.

Think of the ‘In God We Trust’ thing as vestigial aspects from that time most of society doesn’t take all that seriously today. Eventually my guess is that even those vestigial aspects will slowly fade away…it’s the benefit of our system, it can and does change over time. Right now those vestigial aspects mainly annoy only hard core atheists and the rest of society, regardless of which religion they favor, don’t care all that much. I’m an Agnatheist(aar), and having those remnants don’t really bug me all that much. YMMV.


Not really. That happened over 200 years before Christmas became a federal holiday in 1870. The Puritans would not have had any concept of the Separation of Church and State (as we do today), and the bans on Christmas and Easter celebrations were more about the connection of those holidays to the pagan ones from which they derived.

People think paper money is totally obsolete?

Not per the US Constitution*, though.

Not per the US Constitution*, though.

Not in the US, but that wouldn’t matter.

Again, not per the US Constitution.*

I’m sure the SCOTUS would create some new rule about the historical nature of the holiday to justify it, but it’s quite a stretch to call this “ceremonial deism”. It would be like putting In Christ We Trust on our currency. That’s way to specifically tied to one religion.

*As interpreted by the SCOTUS

Votes. It was put there as a push by some constituants, and the politicians saw no upside to voting against it.

It was voted on in 1870. Almost a hundred years later, many public schools were still holding Christian prayer sessions every day. When this was made a holiday, our concept of the establishment clause was much less restrictive. Much less.

Because there are enough people who would raise an unholy stink if Congress ever got rid of the motto, thus it will be on the currency in perpetuity. Easier to throw these people a bone than to let them overturn the government over such a triviality.

Well yeah…especially when you consider that the percentage of the population who believes in ‘God’ is over 90%, and folks who get their panties in a bunch over having ‘In God We Trust’ on the currency is, what? Less than 1%? Hell, let’s be generous and say it’s 5% of the population, just for shits and giggles. Definitely throw those overwhelming majorities a bone. :stuck_out_tongue:


Agreed. I’m an atheist, and I couldn’t give a shit.

It irks me, especially when theists use it as the basis for arguing in favor of further incursions. They think it’s funny to say, “If you don’t like that hilltop cross, you can give me all that unconstitutional money in your wallet.”

I’m a theist, and I don’t want to mix church and state at all. I don’t want to be forced into someone else’s version of Christianity, I have enough problems with Presbyterianism as it is. I don’t mind “In God We Trust” but there are people out there who insist that it “under God” in the pledge references to the “Creator” in the Dec of Independence are the basis for insisting that this is a Christian nation and government. Which is just a complete misreading of history. I think they call themselves Domionists.

The wall of separation where Congress has no say in matters of opinion.

As I see it most people do not Trust In God, they are just words. If they trusted in God (in My opinion) they wouldn’t find it necessary to pray,or worry about the things they do, they would just leave it up to God they believe in.The words Under God was put in the pledge under Ike, to combat communism, but it doesn’t seem to look like it, when one sees our country is no better now, than it was before the fifties!

Meh. 90% may believe in God, but I sincerely doubt a majority of them get their panties twisted over the idea of losing the motto on the currency.

“Ceremonial deism” is just code for “it’s OK to for the government to support sufficiently popular Christian beliefs”. Because let’s be honest here; it’s not about “deism”, it’s about Christianity.

It was put on the money in the 1950s specifically as a way of saying “we’re Christians, not Commie atheists”. That’s a lot more recent, and something the majority of the population still takes very seriously.

Actually, I’ve reminded of the habit of southern racists of sticking the Confederate flag on everything. “In God We Trust” is the same kind of crypto-bigotry. We might as well put “We Hate Everyone Who Isn’t Christian” on money, it would be more honest.

The New England tendency to disparage Christmas lasted until the late 19th century according to the link - with public schools being open on Christmas as late as 1870

OF course it was not always thus. “In God We Trust” didn’t turn up on coins until 1864.

Before that, we were all about “LIBERTY” and “E PLURIBUS UNUM”

And then there’s the motto on this 1792 half dime: “LIB(ERTY) PAR(ENT) OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY”

Lots of good stuff here re how separate church and state were/were not way back when.

If the U.S. is a Western nation, why can people in Asia get here by traveling east?