Brazilian Prosecutor Wants 'God Be Praised' Dropped From Currency

A federal persecutor in Brazil is urging the country to force the central bank to change the phrase "God be praised" on all paper bills, arguing that the motto violates the rights of non-Christians and unbelievers.

"The Brazilian state is secular and, as such, should be completely detached from any religious manifestation," said Jefferson Aparecido Dias of Sao Paulo while submitting a 17-page motion.

The Brazilian currency has held the phrase "Deus Seja Louvado," or "God be Praised," since 1986, The New York Times reported.

Dias argues, however, that although most religious people in Brazil are Christians, the South American country also has Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus.

"Let's imagine if the real note had any of these phrases on it: 'Praise Allah,' 'Praise Buddha,' 'Hail Oxossi,' 'Hail Lord Ganesh' or 'God does not exist,'" he said.

Cardinal Odilo Scherer, Archbishop of Sao Paulo, has responded to the motion by suggesting on Twitter that not many people even notice the phrase, which is written in very small font at the bottom of the notes.

"The phrase should make no difference to those who do not believe in God. But it is meaningful for all those who do believe in God. And those who believe in God also pay taxes and are most of the population," Cardinal Scherer added in a statement.

The central bank in Brazil has explained that the phrase was initially put on the bills because, according to the constitution, Brazil's democratic government was formed "under the protection of God."

It also has stated that the state has the right to "make a reference to the existence of a higher being, a divinity, as long as, in doing so, it does not make an allusion to a specific religious doctrine," highlighting that the "God be praised" message does not allude to any one god or being in particular.