(RNS) Atheists lost their case against the “In God We Trust” motto on the nation’s currency Wednesday (May 28).
It’s a battle they have lost several times before, as court after court has affirmed that printing and engraving the country’s motto on its money does not violate the U.S. Constitution.
The plaintiffs, a group that included humanists and minor children, argued before a federal appeals court that the words amount to a government endorsement of religion, disallowed by the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. They further held that, forced to carry around a religious statement in their pockets and pocketbooks, their constitutionally guaranteed right to freely exercise religion is being violated.
But the three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York noted that the courts have long looked at the motto not so much as the entanglement of government in religion, but as a more general statement of optimism and a “reference to the country’s religious heritage.”