House To Vote On Bill To Put “In God We Trust” On All Federal Buildings

Given all the problems we have, I really have to wonder why this is necessary:

The US House of Representatives will have a chance to vote on a resolution to affirm the phrase “In God We Trust” as the nation’s official motto after it was approved by the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

Congressman J. Randy Forbes (R-VA), the founder and chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, sponsored the legislation. It would encourage the public display of the motto in all public buildings, public schools and government institutions.

He said he introduced the bill in January because he was troubled by a pattern of omitting God from the nation’s heritage.

“There is a small minority who believes America does not have the right to trust in God, who believes the United States should not affirm trust in God, and who actively seek to remove any recognition of that trust,” Forbes said.

The phrase “In God We Trust” was made the official U.S. motto in 1956, one year after the phrase “under God” was incorporated into the Pledge of Allegiance.

Critics of the resolution said it violated the establishment clause of the Constitution, which states that “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion.”

“The phrase ‘In God We Trust’ does not apply to the more than 16 percent of Americans who identify themselves as atheist, agnostic, nonreligious, or unaffiliated, and it does not apply to religious Americans who do not have Judeo-Christian beliefs,” said Sean Faircloth, executive director of the Secular Coalition for America. “Branding our secular country with a religious motto only creates division among its citizens and erodes the wall of separation between church and state.”

The separation of church and state issues seem rather obvious to me but, leaving that aside, I’ve really got to wonder what this has to do with the House GOP’s promise that they would be focusing on job creation and cutting Federal spending.


FILED UNDER: Congress, Law and the Courts, Religion, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Here’s what that focus was:

    “We’re going to focus on what you want to hear. Now that we’re in, we’re in. Two years of hoping you idiots don’t notice, coming up!”

  2. legion says:

    While I have no doubt whatsoever that a piece of crap like this will pass both houses, please – PLEASE – tell me Obama will have the nads to veto it.

    Yeah, I’m not holding my breath either.

  3. wr says:

    “The Congressional prayer caucus.” A bigger bunch of tools is hard to imagine. I wonder how much time they”ll spend talking about how much this will cost…

  4. Vast Variety says:

    Well, I suppose they have to hire some poor soul to have to hammer and chisel all them signs into the buildings… of course after the SCOTUS strikes it down as unconstitutional then that same guy can chisel them all out. Job security.

  5. Ernieyeball says:

    OK. I’ve had it. Enough with these feeble attempts to mainline Christian Morality into everyones brains.
    If Rep. Forbes has any testicles at all he will submit my edict to the House.
    “All persons born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof shall at birth have the motto “In God We Trust” tattooed on their forehead AND all Ten Commandments carved into the cheeks of their ass.”
    As Ann Coulter would say: “That ought to make ’em perfect!”

  6. I’ve really got to wonder what this has to do with the House GOP’s promise that they would be focusing on job creation

    Think of all the chislers they’ll have to hire to implement this bill!

  7. Jack says:

    So, the right-wingnuts denounce Sharia Law not through any moral objection, but because they see it as competition, correct?

  8. Tsar Nicholas says:

    The real irony here is that as cocooned and as detached as that prayer caucus undoubtedly is the Internet blogosphere even is more cocooned and more detached, albeit from the angle of nervous and angry atheism (combined with inexperience and immaturity) as opposed to patronizing evangelicalism.

  9. wr says:

    Tsar N — When you catch me screaming that the nation is broke and simultaneously demanding we spend uncounted amounts scrawling a slogan across thousands of Federal buildings for no reason, you may rightly accuse me of being as cocooned and detached as the clowns in the “Congressional Prayer Caucus.” (Which no doubt shares meeting space with the “congressional cheating on your wife caucus,” since the most publicly devout members of the congress inevitably turn out to be the one banging their aide or their aide’s wife.)

  10. Gulliver says:

    It’s all over the preamble to our founding documents, Its on the money, and it’s in the writings of the founding fathers. Too bad you can’t revise it out of the nation’s history, hmmmm?

  11. anjin-san says:

    I am not aware of any linkage between “In God we trust” and the founding fathers. Citation? It has been used on currency since the mid 19th century. That probably had it’s start with Salmon P. Chase, Lincoln’s Treasury Secretary. “In God we trust” had no official standing until the 1950’s. I would also like to see exactly where the words “In God we trust” appear anywhere in our founding documents.

  12. Ernieyeball says:

    g: “I’ts all over the preamble to our founding documents.”
    What is “It”?
    There is no mention of religion or a deity in the Preamble to The United States Constitution. It is the Supreme Law of the Land.
    But of course you know that.
    What are you talking about?

  13. Ernieyeball says:

    Actually, when you think about it, America started going straight down the toilet right after the words “under God” were added to the Pledge.
    Maybe should remove the supernatural invocation and see if things improve!

  14. Same Dice says:

    What a total waste of time and taxpayer money.

  15. anjin-san says:

    Ernieyeball – Well, you know the new conservative mantra. We make reality up as we go along. Clearly Gulliver is in that camp.

  16. Gulliver says:

    I’m sorry, do you not consider the Declaration of Independence one of our “founding documents?”

    And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

    Apparently the undersigned disagree with y’all:

    John Hancock

    Button Gwinnett
    Lyman Hall
    Geo. Walton

    Wm. Hooper
    Joseph Hewes
    John Penn
    Edward Rutledge
    Thos. Heyward, Junr.
    Thomas Lynch, Junr.
    Arthur Middleton

    Samuel Chase
    Wm. Paca
    Thos. Stone
    Charles Carroll of Carrollton
    George Wythe
    Richard Henry Lee
    Th. Jefferson
    Benja. Harrison
    Thos. Nelson, Jr.
    Francis Lightfoot Lee
    Carter Braxton

    Robt. Morris
    Benjamin Rush
    Benja. Franklin
    John Morton
    Geo. Clymer
    Jas. Smith
    Geo. Taylor
    James Wilson
    Geo. Ross
    Caesar Rodney
    Geo. Read
    Tho. Mckean

    Wm. Floyd
    Phil. Livingston
    Frans. Lewis
    Lewis Morris
    Richd. Stockton
    Jno. Witherspoon
    Fras. Hopkinson
    John Hart
    Abra. Clark

    Josiah Bartlett
    Wm. Whipple
    Saml. Adams
    John Adams
    Robt. Treat Paine
    Elbridge Gerry
    Step. Hopkins
    William Ellery
    Roger Sherman
    Samuel Huntington
    Wm. Williams
    Oliver Wolcott
    Matthew Thornton

    You might try reading the notes on the debates as it relates to the amendments – particularly when it comes to the amendment about religious freedom. One of the primary concerns was that the government would impinge on the free exercise of religion. There was no distinction between religious expression as a politician compared to the freedom of expression given to a private citizen. The restrictions on that are purely a construct of the modern liberal disease.

  17. RW Rogers says:

    It’s not like they have anything better to do/ more important to attend to. Red meat tossed out for the enjoyment of the base, I guess.

  18. anjin-san says:

    Hmm. Still not seeing “In God we trust”. Nor the word “God”.

  19. Ernieyeball says:

    The US Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land.
    The Declaration of Independence does not create the Federal Government for the secular State (USA) we live in.
    Public buildings and lands belong to all citizens, not just the Holy Rollers among us.
    For those secular sites to be used as billboards for sectarian cults is a clear violation of the establishment clause.

  20. Gulliver says:


    So….let me make sure I understand you. The statement “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence” doesn’t mean “In God we trust?”

    Seriously, fella. When you’re pretending to be that obtuse, you’re embarrassing yourself. Sheeesh…

  21. Gulliver says:

    For those secular sites to be used as billboards for sectarian cults is a clear violation of the establishment clause.

    Uhhh no. It’s not. If that were the case then the ten commandments would never have been allowed to be engraved on so many courthouses throughout the nation. The only way you can make your position legitimate is by ignoring all US history prior to the last 30 years or so.

    Not exactly the “predominant” view if it just recently came into fashion ,now is it?

  22. William says:

    Actually, the ten-commandments are not the basis of the law, as they were copied off of much older works. Ever hear of the Code of Hammurabi? Laws of Draco? it’s only feel-good propaganda put up by old, angry men, based off of an old, heavily edited book. I mean, why just those ten? Why not sell your children into slavery, rape a woman and marry her, kill those who disbelieve in your deity, and have no rights except for the children of Abraham?

    I, for one, do not want to waste $90,000,000 dollars on this crap, nor waste any more money on a lot of the crap the government is putting up.

  23. Ernieyeball says:

    The United States Constitution (not your Holy Book) is the Supreme Law of the Land.
    I will cite history prior to your arbitrary and meaningless 30 year window.
    Engel v. Vitale 1962.

  24. Gulliver says:

    The US Constitution is based upon English common law which is heavily influenced by Sir William Blackstone’s writings which are based upon biblical laws. Blackstone taught that man is created by God and granted fundamental rights by God. Man’s law must be based on God’s law. Our Founding Fathers referred to Blackstone more than to any other English or American authority.

    I would suggest you do some research before you presume to dismiss the biblical foundation for most of our Constitution.

  25. William says:

    My dear, the laws of England are based off of old roman laws, as well as germanic and gaelic tribal laws.

    The 10 commandments are based off of older Babylonian laws.

    Out of respect, I will refrain from explaining where Yahweh comes from…

  26. Gulliver says:

    My dear, the laws of England are based off of old roman laws, as well as germanic and gaelic tribal laws.

    The 10 commandments are based off of older Babylonian laws.

    Nice try. You have misrepresented my statement, as liberals are wont to do. Your babylonian laws are not related to the ten commandments in any way shape or form, just as the above mentioned code of hammurabi has no direct relation to the ten commandments – for example there are approximately 280 “laws” in the hammurabi code and none of them bear any resemblance at all to the tenets of the ten commandments. Try reading them and check for yourself (the 280).

    Out of respect, I will refrain from going into detail that the name “Jehovah” what you really want there – and how any origin other than Hebrew is strictly supposition which ignores the historical facts.

  27. sam says:

    Oh hell, give Gullible what he wants — a little theocracy never hurt anybody.

  28. sam says:

    Come to think of it, this may be a way to pump more federal money into the economy. In addition to the Decalogue, let’s also engrave the Abominations of Leviticus on every federal building. That should employ a whole boatload of folks.

  29. William says:

    Oh indeed, perhaps we should also make sure to place the laws stating that women should not be in public for the 7 day period of their cycle, that children should be stoned for disobedience to their parents, and that slavery is permissible is also made known. Hell, let’s engrave the buildings with the whole damn book, so people actually read what is inside of it.

  30. Ben says:

    Well Gulliver, here’s half the commandments from Hammurabi’s code already, and I didn’t have to do much stretching, either:

    “If any one bring an accusation of any crime before the elders, and does not prove what he has charged, he shall, if it be a capital offense charged, be put to death.” – You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

    “If any one is committing a robbery and is caught, then he shall be put to death. ” – You shall not steal

    ” If a man’s wife be surprised with another man, both shall be tied and thrown into the water, but the husband may pardon his wife and the king his slaves.” – You shall not commit adultery

    “If a son strike his father, his hands shall be hewn off.” – Honor your father and mother

    “If a man put out the eye of another man, his eye shall be put out.” – Easily extendable to “You shall not kill”

  31. anjin-san says:

    > “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence” doesn’t mean “In God we trust?”

    Exactly? No. To a Catholic it has one meaning, to a Lutheran another, to a Calvinist another, one that has implications of predestination of the soul. Granted, these are somewhat nuanced. At any rate, the Declaration of Independence, revered by Americans though it is, has no standing in regards to the law of the land

    As I said above, “In God we trust” appears to have come down from Salmon P. Chase, a man who’s enduring contribution to American life was making deficit spending by the government easier.

    > It’s all over the preamble to our founding documents, Its on the money, and it’s in the writings of the founding fathers.

    Once again, please show were “In God we Trust” is “all over” the founding documents (plural, not singular) or used in the writings of the founding fathers. We know some of them referred to God in their writings, and some did not. Where did they use the words “In God we trust”? Not when did they in one place say something that means more or less the same thing.

    Chase added “In God we trust” to our currency because he was a very religious man who felt everyone needed to think about God more the way he did. So he used his government job to press his personal beliefs on the rest of the country. Hardly a Jeffersonian motive or action. “In God we trust” gained official standing due to an action take by Congress in the 1950’s. It is a slogan created and used by politicians long after the days of the founding fathers.

    If you are going to use the word “obtuse” in a discussion, you might want to think your position through a bit more and show up at the table with a few more facts in hand.

  32. Ernieyeball says:

    The United States Constitution (not the writings of Blackstone) is the Supreme Law of the Land.
    Good for Blackstone. Good for you too G Spot.
    The two of you can believe in all the hocus pocus, mumbo jumbo gods you want.
    Nowhere in the United States Constitution, the Supreme law of the Land (not your Holy Book) does it say, as you assert, that “Man’s law must be based on God’s law.” Nor does the United States Constitution, which is the Supreme Law of the Land (not your Holy Book) state anyone has to believe in supernatural gods to be a citizen of the United States of America.
    In fact the United States Constitution, the Supreme Law of the Land (not your Holy Book) FORBIDS a religious test to “…ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
    Of course if you and your religious zealot buddies want to change the United States Constitution, the Supreme Law of the Land (not your Holy Book) to impose your sectarian beliefs on everyone else see Article V.

  33. Doug Indeap says:

    The government’s inscription of the phrase “In God we trust” on coins and currency, as well as its addition of the words “under God” to the pledge of allegiance in 1954 and adoption of the phrase “In God we trust” as a national motto in 1956, were mistakes, which should be corrected. Under our Constitution, the government has no business proclaiming that “we trust” “In God.” Some of us do, and some of us don’t; each of us enjoys the freedom to make that choice; the government does not and should not purport to speak for us in this regard. Nor does the government have any business calling on its citizens to voice affirmation of a god in any circumstances, let alone in the very pledge the government prescribes for affirming allegiance to the country. The unnecessary insertion of an affirmation of a god in the pledge puts atheists and other nonbelievers in a Catch 22: Either recite the pledge with rank hypocrisy or accept exclusion from one of the basic rituals of citizenship enjoyed by all other citizens. The government has no business forcing citizens to this choice on religious grounds, and it certainly has no business assembling citizens’ children in public schools and prescribing their recitation of the pledge–affirmation of a god and all–as a daily routine.

  34. anjin-san says:

    Doug – For that matter, why not do away with the Pledge of Allegiance? Forcing children to recite a loyalty oath that they do not even understand never made a lot of sense to me. The fact that it was written over a hundred years after the time of the founding fathers sort of compounds the matter.