An atheist activist has lost yet another fight to have "In God We Trust" removed from U.S. currency after the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal alleging that the motto violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
On Monday, the court rejected without comment the challenge from activist Michael Newdow, who claimed that the inscription “In God We Trust” on currency was a government endorsement of religion and a violation of the First Amendment, Fox News reports.
In his petition to the Supreme Court, Nedow argued that because his clients are all atheist individuals or atheist groups, the government violated their “sincere religious belief” that there is no God and turned them into “political outsiders” by placing the phrase “In God We Trust” on their money.
“Petitioners are atheists. As such, they fervidly disagree with the religious idea that people should trust in God. On the contrary, their sincere religious belief is that trusting in any God is misguided,” the petition read.
“Defendants have conditioned receipt of the important benefit of using the nation’s sole 'legal tender' upon conduct proscribed by Petitioners’ atheism (i.e., upon Petitioners’ personally bearing – and proselytizing – a religious message that is directly contrary to the central idea that underlies their religious belief system),” it continued.
Newdow’s petition, which refers to "God" as "G-d," also argued that the placement of “In God We Trust” on the money “has real effects on real children” and compared the plight of atheist children to the struggles historically faced by black children.
“Unless this Court ends the flagrant governmental preference for belief in God (and the implicit concomitant denigration of Atheism), the organizations, adults and children bringing this case will spend the rest of their lives – as they have spent their lives so far – as secondclass citizens,” the petition declared.
“In God We Trust” was first put on an American coin in 1864, due to “increased religious sentiment” and added to both coins and paper bills in 1955. President Dwight Eisenhower signed a law making the phrase the national motto in 1956.
In a statement, Mat Staver, founder and chairman of religious liberty law firm Liberty Counsel, praised the court’s rejection of Newdow’s petition.
“Our national motto ‘In God We Trust’ has been on all U.S. currency for more than 60 years and it will remain there, despite ridiculous attempts by atheists to remove it,” he said.
Newdow has in the past failed in several litigation challenges against the "under God" phrase in the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance.
Last year, he faced a loss in the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the suit. At the time, judges found that the motto on currency “comports with early understandings of the Establishment Clause” and did not coerce people into practicing a religion.
In 2004, after suing for the removal of "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, his case was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. The court did not decide on the merits of the case but instead said Newdow had no standing to sue.
And in 2013, he partnered with the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation to sue the U.S. Treasury over the motto on currency.
The California-based activist has also been the face of other atheist campaigns, including attempts to stop prayers being read at the inauguration of Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.
He also attempted to prevent government leaders from saying the phrase "So help me God" in the 2009, 2013, and 2017 presidential inaugurations.