Missouri Congressmen Todd Akin and Roy Blunt have filed a legal brief calling for the preservation of "In God We Trust" as the national motto of the United States
of America. The Congressmen acted in response to a lawsuit filed by an atheist organization which seeks to strike religious references from displays in the newly opened visitor's center in the U.S. Capitol.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation is asking a federal district court in Wisconsin to order the removal of engravings of "In God We Trust" and the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance from displays in the Capitol Visitors Center. The
Foundation claims that these references to God "give actual and apparent government endorsement and advancement of religion."
Akin and Blunt joined 42 others members of Congress in filing a friend-of-the court brief defending the constitutionality of the displays. The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) filed the brief on behalf of the federal lawmakers.
Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for ACLJ, says the engravings acknowledge that the freedoms we enjoy as Americans come from God, sentiments found in the Declaration of Independence. "While the First Amendment affords atheists complete freedom to disbelieve, it does not
compel the federal judiciary to [eliminate] religious references in every area of public life to suit atheistic sensibilities."
Sekulow adds that if the lawsuit were successful, it could lead to efforts to remove religious works of art and inscriptions from the entire Capitol Building, as well as the abolishment of the prayer rooms in the House and Senate office buildings. "This challenge is another misguided attempt to alter history and purge America of religious references. "We're hopeful it will meet the same fate as other flawed challenges and be rejected by the court."
Virginia Congressman Randy Forbes, the chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, agrees that the lawsuit is an effort to stamp out every vestige of Christian faith in America.
"The Declaration of Independence says all our rights come from our Creator. It those rights come from the state, then the state can take they away."
The Capitol Visitors Center has been a source of controversy since it opened late last year. The underground museum ended up costing $621 million, $360 million over budget. The exhibits
were notable for their nearly universal exclusion of any record of the nation's religious heritage. The Center featured an erroneous display that described "E Pluribus Unum" as our national motto, rather than "In God We Trust." The Pledge of Allegiance was not even mentioned in the center's exhibits.
After vocal complaints from members of Congress, the correct national motto was engraved at the Visitors Center and the words "In God We Trust" were unveiled in September. The Pledge of Allegiance will be completed in the coming weeks.
The public recognition of "In God We Trust" as a national motto dates back to the War of 1812. Francis Scott Key wrote the
Star Spangled Banner during that conflict, and included a line in the final stanza stating: "And this be our motto--In God is our Trust." Congress directed the U.S. Mint that the words "In God We Trust" be imprinted on the nation's coins during the Civil War.
The federal government formally established "In God We Trust" as the national motto through an act of Congress requested and signed by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956. Shortly
thereafter, the motto began to appear on the dollar bill, and over time on other paper currency.
This isn't the first time the Freedom from Religion Foundation has taken aim at the religious underpinnings of our national motto. They filed suit in the mid-90's in Colorado seeking to remove "In God We Trust" from all monetary instruments. The Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against them, saying the motto did not
constitutive an "endorsement of religion."
The Freedom from Religion Foundation calls itself "a free thought organization." They believe that "religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds." They have been involved in legal efforts to remove the Ten Commandments from government buildings and public
property, and are now in court trying to block the annual observance of the National Day of Prayer. The group made its presence known in Missouri a few years ago, when they appeared in federal court seeking to strike the phrase "So help me, God" from tax forms in Christian County. That case was dismissed. They are currently sponsoring a holiday billboard campaign with signs that say "Yes, Virginia, there is no God."
Please pray in Thanksgiving for leaders like Roy Blunt and Todd Akin who have the courage to stand up for our religious liberties. May the Lord continue to embolden their steps as they oppose efforts to rewrite our nation's history in a way that ignores our dependence on and allegiance to God.