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Atheist Sues to Remove ‘In God We Trust’ From Currency
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Summary: Outspoken atheist Michael Newdow files lawsuit to remove “In God We Trust” from currency.

If nothing else, Michael Newdow is persistent. This Californian atheist took his pursuit of getting “Under God” removed from the pledge of allegiance all the way to the Supreme Court. Though they ruled against him, Newdow is nonplussed and at it again. He wishes now to have “In God We Trust” removed from U.S. currency as it violates the separation of church and state.


The Sacramento doctor and lawyer filed his 112-page lawsuit on Monday in federal court in Akron. All of his 41 plaintiffs are atheists except one believer, who wishes the word “God” removed from currency out of respect for the deity. Because of that plaintiff, Adam Clayman, the lawsuit phrases “God” as “G-d.”

“The ‘In G-d We Trust’ phrase has continued to be a tool used to perpetuate favoritism for (Christian) Monotheism,” the suit claims. “It has also continued to perpetuate anti-Atheistic bias.”

While his previous attack on the God phrase in the national anthem relied on an interpretation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, this time he wishes to use the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993, which so far has been used by different religious plaintiffs to avoid providing contraceptives for employees, and so forth.

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Last year Newdow spelled out his strategy:

There is obviously no compelling government interest in having “In God We Trust” on our money. We did fine for the 75 years before the phrase was ever used at all, and continued to do fine for the subsequent 102 years before such inscriptions were made mandatory on every coin and currency bill. Similarly, the vast majority of nations manage to function without religious verbiage on their money.

Accordingly, for those who feel that being forced by the government to carry a message that violates their religious ideals is substantially burdensome, lawsuits are now being prepared in the seven (of twelve) federal circuits that have not yet heard challenges to this governmental practice. Although the arguments demonstrating that the godly inscriptions violate the Establishment Clause will again be raised, the RFRA claim will (for the first time) be the lead argument in each case. Hopefully, in at least one of those circuits, two appellate judges will be willing to acknowledge the statutory violation.

So basically his strategy is built on sheer persistence. And this not for monetary gain, since he seeks only money to pay for legal costs, but he simply wants the phrase removed from money, “To permanently enjoin Defendants from minting coins and/or printing currency on which is engraved “In G-d We Trust.”

He had sued the government twice for their use of “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, losing both times, and filed in California over U.S. Currency in 2010, with a federal appeals court ruling against him. So certainly, trenchant persistence is his game plan in his plight.

Some of the complaints the plaintiffs make include that they don’t want to carry “a religious message that is the complete antithesis of her Atheistic beliefs.”

“Exercise of [Plaintiff’s] Atheism requires that they maintain honesty, and it is absolutely dishonest for her to carry the false message that ‘We’ (i.e., Americans, of which she is one) trust in G-d”

“…she is forced to spread this Monotheistic message, also against her will, in a loathsome repudiation of her self-esteem.”

“Plaintiff New Poe Child is taught that, solely on the basis of sincere religious beliefs, his family exists as outsiders in their own homeland.”

Among the 41 plaintiffs are unnamed parents and children from Ohio and Michigan, as well as the Northern Ohio Freethought Society of Cleveland.


Photo credit: cc-vortex/FreeImages



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