Atheist Sues to Remove 'In God We Trust' From Currency

By Randy Hall | July 7, 2008 | 8:05 PM EDT

( - The atheist who is fighting to take the phrase "under God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance filed a lawsuit late Thursday seeking to prevent the U.S. government from printing the national motto -- "In God We Trust" -- on any future coins or paper money.

In the suit filed with the U.S. District Court in Sacramento, Calif., Michael Newdow claims that the present use of the phrase "violates the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the United States Constitution," and he seeks to stop the government from using it on mint coins and print currency, as well as in "any act or law."

The defendants named in the 35-page document include the members of Congress, Treasury Secretary John Snow, U.S. Mint Director Henrietta Fore and Thomas Ferguson, director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

The lawsuit identifies Newdow as "an Atheist whose religious beliefs are specifically and explicitly based on the idea that there is no god. He finds belief in such an entity to be a significantly distasteful notion."

While noting that Newdow "has no desire to impart his Atheistic beliefs upon others" and "does not need assistance dealing with the significant amounts of (Christian) Monotheism that pervades American society," the suit states that "he finds it deeply offensive to have his government and its agents advocating for a religious view he specifically decries."

Newdow also lists himself as the founder and a "Grand Lubitz" of the First Amendmist Church of True Science (FACTS). "Believing that 'commandments' are the antithesis of any true religion, FACTS has three 'suggestions' for its members. Those suggestions are (1) Question, (2) Be honest and (3) Do what's right. A Grand Lubitz is one who has chosen to live his or her life devoted to those principles."

In addition, Newdow states he "is a numismatist who has been collecting coins since his early childhood."

As Cybercast News Service previously reported, Thursday's filing is not Newdow's first attempt to remove religious terminology from the public square.

An earlier lawsuit sought to take the phrase "under God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance, and in that case, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Newdow. His first suit was dismissed on a technicality, so Newdow sued again, and the case is pending.

In addition, Newdow filed an injunction to prevent the recitation of a clergy-led prayer at the presidential inauguration last January, but the Supreme Court ruled that such an invocation was constitutional.

Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the conservative American Center for Law and Justice, called Newdow's new lawsuit "another attempt to use the legal system to remove a legitimate reference to the religious heritage of America."

"Mere acknowledgment of God by the government cannot be said to be 'establishment of religion,' such that it would violate the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution," Sekulow said. "The nation's history is replete with examples of acknowledgment of religious belief in the public sector."

Therefore, "our national motto, 'In God We Trust,' is not only permissible, but constitutional as well," Sekulow added, noting that the Supreme Court has on several occasions referenced the national motto as a legitimate expression of our religious heritage.

"The underlying premise of the national motto can be traced to our founding," Sekulow said.

"The Declaration of Independence says that we are endowed by our Creator to have certain unalienable rights. The founders recognized that rights and liberties derive from an authority higher than government, which means that government cannot take these rights and liberties away," Sekulow added.

While stating that "litigation filed by Michael Newdow must be taken seriously since he has now twice attempted to have the pledge declared unconstitutional," Sekulow said that the ACLJ is "ready for a fight" to protect the national motto, even if it goes all the way to the Supreme Court.

See Earlier Stories:
'In God We Trust:' Our Money's Message for 141 Years (Nov. 16, 2005)
Conservatives Mobilize Against Activist Atheist (Nov. 15, 2005)
Judge Rules Pledge of Allegiance Unconstitutional (Sept. 14, 2005)
Prayer Okay at Inauguration, US Supreme Court Says (Jan. 19, 2005)
On Flag Day, Supreme Court Rejects Pledge Case (June 14, 2004)

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