The national motto In God We Trust, which is currently inscribed on the edge of the presidential one dollar coins, will soon return to its original prominent position on the front or the back of the coin.
Legislation sponsored by Sen. Sam Brownback to move In God We Trust back to a prominent place on the coin was signed by President Bush on Wednesday as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008.
The move of the inscription from the edges to the front or back of the coin "shall be put into effect by the Secretary of the Treasury as soon as is practicable, according to the provision.
The Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005 introduced the $1 coins as a way to honor the nation's presidents. The bill called for the size, weight and metal composition of the presidential coins to be identical to that of the Sacagawea Golden Dollar but relegated the "In God We Trust" motto to the edges to "allow larger and more dramatic artwork" of the presidents' faces on the front and the Statue of Liberty on the back.
Four coins featuring Presidents Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison were issued this year.
But some coins made it through production without being stamped with the motto and some experts say the edge-incused inscriptions could rub off over time. Conservatives expressed concern that moving the motto from the face of the coin was the first step to removing it altogether from the currency.
Those concerns coupled with public outcry led Brownback to introduce legislation to reinstate the motto back to a more visible location on the coin.
"Since the colonial beginnings of the United States, citizens of this nation have officially acknowledged their dependence on God," said Brownback earlier this month. "It is important that our national motto, 'In God We Trust,' is prominently displayed on all of our currency. We should not relegate our heritage to the side."
The four-word motto was commissioned back in the Civil War era by Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase upon the urging of the American public, including a church minister, to recognize the Deity on United States coins, according to the U.S. Treasury Department's website.
In a letter, Chase instructed the Director of the Mint at Philadelphia to prepare a motto, stating, "No nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or safe except in His defense. The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins."
In God We Trust began appearing on coins in 1864. Congress passed a law in 1955 requiring all U.S. currency to carry "In God We Trust" and approved the phrase as the national motto in 1956.
Earlier this month, an appeals court heard arguments challenging the motto's inclusion on U.S. currency. The lawsuit, which was filed by self-proclaimed atheist Michael Newdow in 2005, has not been decided yet.
The recently approved bill also creates six new quarters honoring six districts or territories in the United States and will be released in 2009 in the following order: the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the United States Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.