'In God We Trust' Does Not Violate Atheist's Rights, Appeals Court Rules

The phrase "In God We Trust" used on U.S. currency does not violate the U.S. Constitution's Establishment Clause, an appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled Wednesday to deny the request of atheist Rosalyn Newdow to have the phrase "In God We Trust" removed from all U.S. currency. Newdow, a member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, filed her lawsuit against U.S. Congress in 2013, arguing that the religious phrase violated the U.S. Establishment Clause or the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.

Newdow argued that the phrase "In God We Trust" on U.S. currency caused a substantial burden on atheists in the country because it forced them "to bear on their persons […] a statement that attributes to them personally a perceived falsehood that is the antithesis of the central tenet of their religious system."

The 2nd Circuit disagreed with Newdow's argument, writing in its opinion on Wednesday that the phrase "In God We Trust" does "not have a religious purpose or advance religion, nor does [it] place a substantial burden on appellants' religious practices."

The opinion went on to argue that because U.S. currency pieces are mutually interchangeable and are often carried in one's purse or pocket, they do not force the carrier to proclaim "In God We Trust" as their personal viewpoint.

"We respectfully disagree that appellants have identified a substantial burden upon their religious practices or beliefs," the opinion concluded.

Annie Laurie Gaylor, co- president of the FFRF, released a statement Wednesday saying the judges' ruling "creates the dangerous misperception that our republic is based on a god, when in fact it is based on an entirely godless and secular Constitution," adding that such constitutional violations have "damaged respect for the constitutional principle of separation between religion and government." 

Michael Newdow, the litigator representing the atheist appellants in the case, added in a statement that he will move for a rehearing. "I plan to keep trying in the remaining six circuits until we find some federal appellate judges who believe in the principles that underlie our Constitution."

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