The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed, 396-9, a concurrent resolution reaffirming “In God We Trust” as the national motto.
The resolution was introduced by Rep. J. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), co-chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus. It is a concurrent resolution because the Senate already passed a similar resolution in 2006 for the 50th anniversary of “In God We Trust” as the nation's motto. Resolutions do not carry the force of law and do not require the president's signature.
“Tomorrow, the House of Representatives will have the same opportunity to reaffirm our national motto and directly confront a disturbing trend of inaccuracies and omissions, misunderstandings of church and state, rogue court challenges, and efforts to remove God from the public domain by unelected bureaucrats. As our nation faces challenging times, it is appropriate for Members of Congress and our nation – like our predecessors – to firmly declare our trust in God, believing that it will sustain us for generations to come,” Forbes said in a statement Monday.
Forbes also criticized President Obama for claiming that our national motto was E pluribus unum, a Latin phrase meaning “out of many, one” found on U.S. currency, in a Nov. 10, 2010, speech in Indonesia. Obama never said e pluribus unum was our “national” motto, but described it as one of many mottos. “It is a story written into our national mottos. In the United States, our motto is E pluribus unum – out of many, one,” Obama said.
The bill provides several examples of when the importance of God to the nation has been affirmed in public documents and the words of national leaders, including Presidents John Adams, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy and Gerald Ford.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) led opposition to the bill on the House floor. He argued that the bill was unnecessary, intentionally divisive and sent the message that citizens who do not believe in God are less American.
“No one has threatened it. No one has said it is not the national motto. This resolution today, which has no force of law, simply restates the national motto once again,” Nadler said.
“Make no mistake about it, some have taken a decidedly divisive tone when discussing the national motto,” Nadler added. “Some have sought to imply that their political adversaries, including the president, are somehow less godly or less patriotic and they use the national motto as a wedge to try to drive home that point. I think that kind of divisiveness undermines national unity, which, especially in times like these, is very important. Rather than try to one-up each other over who can be the better, or more godly, American, we should be working together to solve our very real problems.”
Forbes argued that the resolution was necessary due to current court cases attempting to remove references to God on U.S. currency and public property, and confusion over the appropriateness of displaying the national motto on public property, or saying it at public events.
Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) spoke in favor of the resolution. He argued that America plays a special role in the world and quoted Psalm 127:1.
“I believe, as many other Americans do, that America is a special place, a chosen place, and even an exceptional place, and America is more than just another country on the globe, as some say. Throughout our history, we've served as a beacon of light in an often dark world, and one reason is because, 'in God we trust.' As it has been said, 'unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen watch in vain.' I agree with that and we should affirm it, and that's just the way it is.”
The vote was scheduled on the House's suspension calendar, which is reserved for non-controversial measures, but requires a two-thirds vote for passage. Those who favored the measure included 233 Republicans and 163 Democrats, while one Republican and eight Democrats opposed the measure.