In God We Trust

by | Jul 11, 2024 | Uncategorized

This day in history in 1804, we remember the infamous Burr-Hamilton duel on an early, misty morning in Weehawken, New Jersey. Our nation’s third Vice President, Aaron Burr, shot his long-time political nemesis, Alexander Hamilton, who died the following day. Today, we are more familiar with Hamilton as the leading character of the smash Broadway musical bearing his name. We also carry his portrait in our purses and wallets, which adorns our currency’s ten-dollar bills.

If you flip your ten-dollar bill over, you will note the sketching of the U.S. Treasury Building, an apparent link to the agency’s first secretary on the bill’s opposite side. You will also notice a phrase beneath our nation’s name at the top of the currency connected to today’s date. On July 11, 1955, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a legislative bill, H.R. 619, that required the inscription “In God We Trust” to appear on all paper and coin currency.

The phrase was included on our money and other government properties before President Eisenhower signed the 1955 law. Following the American Civil War, there was a rise in secularism that many wanted to combat. One included President Abraham Lincoln’s treasury secretary, Salmon P. Chase. On March 3, 1865, Lincoln signed legislation his secretary lobbied for before Congress, allowing the treasury secretary to authorize the U.S. Mint to stamp the motto on approved coins—the law Lincoln subsequently signed as the last act of Congress before his assassination.

Throughout its use, the motto has intertwined with controversy, but thankfully not to the point of instigating pistol duels. Instead, legal challenges and spirited debates about a nation touting the separation of church and state and including religious references in our governmental documents and property have ensued. President Theodore Roosevelt, which may surprise you, found the motto atrocious and called for its removal from coins in 1907. He ultimately relented to pushback.

Eisenhower’s support of the inscription “In God We Trust” as our nation’s motto reflected the nation’s climate in the early Cold War of the 1950s, wishing to set our country apart from the atheist, Communist regime in the Soviet Union, highlighting the U.S.A. as a spiritually faithful nation. However, the controversy of church/state issues tends to pop up occasionally, like the recently adopted law to post the Ten Commandments in Louisiana schools. But, separationists seem to lose vigor for the fight, seemingly agreeing with former Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, who wrote in 1983 that slogans such as ‘In God We Trust’ have ‘lost any true religious significance.'”

Whatever your views on using religious references in public places, I pray you do not lose trust in God. “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. (Proverbs 3:3).”

This Sunday, July 14, at 9:30 AM, we gather in the sanctuary of faith, where we faithfully declare, “In God We Trust.” Join us at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 36 E. John Street, Lindenhurst.

Pastor Marc

Rev. Marc Herbst
St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church
36 East John Street
Lindenhurst, NY 11757