A Half Century After It First Appeared on the Dollar Bill, 'In God We Trust' Still Stirs Opposition

Source Organization: Pew Research Center

Author: David Masci

09/12/2007 - Oct. 1 marks the 50th anniversary of the appearance of "In God We Trust" on the paper currency of the United States. The phrase, which is the nation's official motto as well, has been caught in a broader debate over just how high the wall separating church and state should stand.

Many people see the "In God We Trust" motto and other official evocations of a creator as a reflection and acknowledgement of America's rich religious heritage. Supporters also contend that the motto is simply a recognition of the fact that the people of the United States have always relied on "divine providence."

But others argue that the government's evocation of God in any official capacity amounts to the establishment of a state religion, which is prohibited by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Critics also say that "In God We Trust" is divisive because it excludes those who don't believe in God, as well as Buddhists, Hindus and others who follow non-monotheistic faiths.

An overwhelming majority of Americans support using "In God We Trust" on the country's currency and as the national motto. For instance, a 2003 Gallup poll found that 90 percent of respondents approved of the use of the motto on coins. A separate Gallup poll in 2004 found that a similar majority expressed support for retaining the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Read the full analysis "In God We Trust" Still Stirs Debate on the Pew Research Center Web site.

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