Fifty-six years ago today, on July 30, 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress, authorizing “In God We Trust” as the U.S. national motto.
Atheists have claimed that the phrase was purely political; a Cold War concoction to counter the atheism of the Soviet Union. But the phrase goes back before Karl Marx was born. In reporting the Joint Resolution, the Senate Judiciary Committee stated:
“Further official recognition of this motto was given by the adoption of the Star-Spangled Banner as our national anthem. One stanza of our national anthem is as follows:
“‘O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto — ‘In God is our trust.’
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
“In view of these words in our national anthem, it is clear that ‘In God we trust’ has a strong claim as our national motto.” ((S. Rep. No. 2703, 84th Cong., 2d Sess., p. 2.))
In November of 2011, the motto was needlessly reaffirmed by Congress. Ron Paul, on the campaign trail, said he would have voted “No.”
In March of last year, the Supreme Court of the United States refused to hear an appeal by atheist Michael Newdow from a decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals against Newdow’s claim that the “In God We Trust” Motto violated his Constitutional Rights.
Some Christians cheered, but this was not a victory for the God of the Bible. The decision was based on the Ninth Circuit’s prior declaration back in 1970 that phrases like “under God,” “In God We Trust,” and “So Help Me, God” did not violate the “separation of church and state” because the word “God” in these phrases was actually a secular term, a “ceremonial” and “patriotic” phrase with no “theological” meaning, functioning simply to inculcate obedience to the State.
If the phrase had been a “theological” reference to the God of the Bible, then it would have been “unconstitutional.”
Imagine that Francis Scott Key was transported through time from 1814 (when the Star Spangled Banner was written) to our day. What if he sat in the back of a typical public school classroom for a day, and discovered that God had been banned there? What if he were told that 4,000 American mothers abort their children each and every day? What if he saw our pornography — not what we call porn, but what we don’t call porn: everyday billboards, videos, and publications that would have shocked his sensibilities? What if he saw the warrantless violations of the 4th Amendment at airports by those who had taken an oath to support the Constitution by declaring “so help me, God?” What if he saw our standing armies and foreign wars? What if he could grasp the size and scope of our Messianic government? What evidence could be set before him that would convince him that this is a nation that trusts God?