- (Photo: Courtesy of Kevin Dooley)
A United States District Court Judge has dismissed a suit brought by an atheist organization against the motto "In God We Trust" being on the national currency.
Judge Harold Baer Jr. of the Southern District of New York ruled Monday that a suit brought by the Freedom From Religion Foundation and others should be dismissed.
"The Supreme Court has repeatedly assumed the motto's secular purpose and effect, and all circuit courts that have considered this issue-namely the Ninth, Fifth, Tenth, and D.C. Circuit- have found no constitutional violation in the motto's inclusion on currency," wrote Baer.
"Each circuit court that has considered the issue found no Establishment Clause violation in the motto's placement on currency, finding ceremonial or secular purposes and no religious effect or endorsement."
American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative legal group, filed an amicus brief in support of the motto on behalf of 41 members of Congress and approximately 90,000 Americans who wanted a dismissal.
Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ, told The Christian Post that he was "extremely pleased that the federal district court reached that conclusion."
"The decision to dismiss the suit is the correct decision and underscores what previous courts - including the U.S. Supreme Court - have determined that the national motto does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment," said Sekulow.
In February, the FFRF and 19 other plaintiffs filed suit against U.S. government over the motto In God We Trust being on the national currency.
The suit specifically named Jacob J. Lew, secretary of the Treasury; Richard A. Peterson, acting director of the US Mint; and Larry R. Felix, director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
In an earlier interview with The Christian Post, FFRF co-President Dan Barker said that the motto is "a religious phrase" that has no place in government.
"The message belongs in churches, private institutions and can be shared by missionaries. But who is the 'we' representing, if not all of us trust in a God?" asked Barker.
Rob Boston, communications director for the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, told The Christian Post that he did not agree with the dismissal.
"We don't agree with the decision, but we're not surprised by it. Most courts have refused to take a serious look at the issue of the national motto and have blithely approved it, calling it a form of 'ceremonial deism,'" said Boston.
"The federal government is supposed to be neutral on theological matters. In God We Trust is a clearly religious statement. That's not neutrality."
When asked by CP if he thought FFRF might appeal the decision, Sekulow responded that he would not be surprised if they did.
"It would not be surprising if the FFRF and others filed an appeal in this case. They have a track record of filing such court challenges which are nothing more than misguided attempts to alter the historical and cultural landscape of America," said Sekulow.
"It's always been our position that while the First Amendment affords atheists complete freedom to disbelieve, it does not compel the federal judiciary to redact religious references in every area of public life in order to suit atheistic sensibilities."