In God Some Trust

Atheist Plans Lawsuit Challenging Motto on U.S. Currency

from San Mateo Weekly Journal

SACRAMENTO — An atheist who has spent years trying to ban recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is now challenging the national motto printed on U.S. currency.

Michael Newdow said Sunday that he planned to file a federal lawsuit this week asking for the removal of the national motto, "In God We Trust," from U.S. coins and dollar bills. He claims it’s an unconstitutional endorsement of religion and "excludes people who don’t believe in God."

Newdow, a Sacramento doctor and lawyer who is an avowed atheist, used a similar argument when he challenged the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools because it contains the words "under God." He took his fight to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 2004 said he lacked standing to bring the case because he didn’t have custody of his daughter.

An identical lawsuit later brought by Newdow on behalf of parents with children in three Sacramento-area school districts is pending with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, after a judge sided with the plaintiffs in September.

Newdow said his efforts are not spurred by an atheistic agenda, but rather by a desire to see the government adhere to the U.S. Constitution. He dismissed opponents' arguments that references to God in government honor the country's religious roots, saying constitutional rights should take precedent.

"It's not the history that counts. It's not the patriotism. What it is, is these people want to get their religious views in our government,” he said.


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