Posted by: The Amoeba | August 17, 2008

A Currency Debate

Quilly just told me about a hot-topic poll going on as these words are typed. The question:

Should the motto “In God We Trust” be removed from U.S. currency?

As of right now, more than a million votes have been cast, and the race is neck-and-neck. [Update, 22 August: The tally is now nearly 7 million, and the trusters are running away with it.]

For those of you who tuned in late, and possibly are wondering why in hell, with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan etc. etc. etc., the collapse of the U. S. housing market, the energy and grain and credit crises, and Michael Phelps’s eight gold medals, anyone (never mind a million of us, and counting) cares about what’s on the money except the number and the units, and how many of those numbers and units it will take to buy a stick of chewing gum – we’ve already given up on gasoline – tomorrow:

Turns out, according to the U. S. Treasury Department’s history of the matter, that “In God We Trust” first showed up on American money in 1864, during the Confederate Revolutionary War Civil War. When U. S. Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase, a devout and, ehm, somewhat sanctimonious Christian, wanted to make extra-special sure that Jesus was on the side of the Union. The phrase has been on the money, off and on, ever since.

The U. S. Constitution be damned.

We the People made matters worse by declaring, in 1956, that “In God We Trust” be the official motto of these Untied States, and in that capacity must appear on Our money. Thus do We illustrate the cardinal principle of all Law, code and common: When We write it, We mean what We say. Except when We don’t.

Now as it happens, the United States of America had a perfectly good motto, one that exemplifies both the history and the ideals of Our nation and dates back to Our nation’s inception: E pluribus unum (One formed out of Many). Only one trouble with this motto (aside from the fact that it wasn’t written in God’s first language, English, so nobody now knows what it means): no one bothered to make it official. Which gave an opening to another devout Christian, Ike Eisenhower, who was seeking for a catchy way to distinguish the Godly Good Americans from the Ungodly Bad Russians, to whom Die Religion ist … das Opium des Volkes. (This, in 1956, was a decade before American Baby Boomers dispensed with the cheap substitute Religion in favor of the real McCoy. But there was no way Eisenhower could have known this, and he passed away before he could observe it).

So now we have this argument. Should “In God We Trust” stay on the money, because it’s historical and patriotic? Or should it go, because it’s an unconstitutional “establishment of religion”?

This is a job for Amoeba’s Rule, which states: Whenever people can’t find an answer to a question, it’s usually because they’re asking the wrong question. Or, in this case, maybe, not considering all the available answers. I venture to suggest that the trouble with “In God We Trust” is not that it’s wrong, but that it’s incomplete. If we merely completed the thought, like it was meant to be, and as it appeared (still appears?) over the cash registers of thousands of little shops throughout this Great Land, all difficulty would vanish.

In God We Trust. All Others Pay Cash.

Hey. Isn’t that why we coin money? And besides. What could be more quintessentially American? Especially in the post-Mastercard era.

  – O Ceallaigh
Copyright © 2008 Felloffatruck Publications. All wrongs deplored.
All opinions are mine as a private citizen.



  1. Or perhaps the new motto should be:

    “Worth Less Than The Metal”

  2. i’d say there’s an “L” missing from GOD in that motto

  3. I’m not going to tell you you’re wrong, Brian.

    Polona, there’s a line in the Bible that says something “you can’t serve God and a bank account.” American’s aren’t really good at ‘either-or’ choices; see Kobayashi Maru.

  4. I reckon those four words say more than anything else I’ve ever seen on currency ANYWHERE in the world.

  5. I agree, David. If only they were true.

  6. […] What was that you said about your credit card, ye of the nation of In God We Trust? […]

  7. I am with you 100% on this (I think). To me, religious zeal and money (a political too) do not belong together.

    So, “In God We Trust – Everyone Else Pays Cash” is the one that made me smile and nod and say “Yes O’C, you’re spot on there.”

    Great post.
    Over from David’s.

  8. Ahh, a good chuckle for the day! (Came from Authorblog. Worth the trip.)

  9. Thanks, Crazycath and pottedfrog, and glad you could drop by.

    What does it mean? To some, the idea of honoring a god in ridiculous. They can’t grasp the concept of a spiritual god let alone “one GOD” that protects and blesses. This would mean that their control would be somehow diminished. We also find that in a place where abundance is seen you will also find those who are “self driven”. These people are driven to satisfy all of their fleshly desirers with the mentality that they come first, period. These people embrace everything that the Bible says is wrong. Immoral sex, alcohol, drugs, murder, greed, any combination they’ve got it, just as long as there isn’t any god to tell them any different. Face it, humans love to be in control.

    When one takes the time to look at our little world one discovers where most humans want to be, where is it? It is America. Is it because we diminish God’s importance that people come here? No. When a country has laws and rights for its citizens that protect good and bad people, the citizens of the world want to be there. Educated people know where these rights and freedoms come from. They come and derive from the Christian Bible and its laws. America is the only place where Martin Luther King would have been allowed to be a man of power. Any other government would have put him in prison and locked him away before he could have made any impact. But not here in America. And the result was MORE freedom.

    Look at the BLOODY civil war… Freedom for black slaves was the quest for hundreds of thousands of whites who died to grant them that freedom. We never hear anyone talk about that. Weird Huh? White men are looked at as the cause of the worlds woes.

    All we hear from these people that hate the idea that God is on the coins is that they don’t want to have a god in their lives. Who are these people that talk about this “tragic injustice” and instigate the public to hate the inclusion of God? Let’s take a moment to look at God. Hate is not what we find in a TRUE Christian church. The New Testament is about caring, concern, redemption, love and truth. It is about putting down the stone and allowing God’s love to guide you to salvation. God is embraced in America as a source of protection, healing and love. Nearly all of the followers of Jesus in the Bible were killed by Jesus haters defending His love to help others find eternal life. Millions more were killed during the persecution in the Roman Coliseum. Yet, Christianity prevailed as the way of life for many strong devout followers all over the world, lead by a loving God that was sacrificed and resurrected to cover the believers individual sins.

    What did America get from it? America is the most powerful FREE nation in the World, the defender of Civil Rights, and the rescuer of the world in times of tragedy and sickness. If there is a place that is lead by God, this is the place.

    Should we trust in God? It’s pretty obvious that many, many, more should. If people weren’t having immoral sex, people would not have created the diseases that kill them. If people wouldn’t kill, people wouldn’t be killed. If people weren’t so selfish and motivated to rob and steal from other people, Wars wouldn’t need to happen. Face it WE SHOULD TRUST IN GOD..

    His words say to stop stealing, stop having immoral sex, stop our selfishness, to stop killing, to stop using drugs and alcohol. He says to LOVE ONE ANOTHER. I think it is about time we make it more than a national MOTO found on our money and make it more a part of our daily lives. Jesus is love, forgiveness, strength and salvation. These simple things sound good to me. He requires one to live a life dedicated to Him and these principals. We should all spend more energy focusing on ways to become more closer to Him and give up the sin infested lives of the “God haters”. What do they want? Do they want everyone to be like them, living the “do unto others, before its done to them?

    Just so you all know… in the end the Bible says ALL will face a day of Judgment, every knee will bow and the evil, self driven God haters of the world will be cast out into utter darkness. As for His elect, our motto is…

    In God we trust.

    Get saved.

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