Xref: taco talk.abortion:49279 talk.religion.misc:44746 Subject: In god we trust (Was Re:A

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Xref: taco talk.abortion:49279 talk.religion.misc:44746 Path: ncsuvm!taco!gatech!udel!wupost!uunet!icd.ab.com!iccgcc.decnet.ab.com!parker From: parker@iccgcc.decnet.ab.com Newsgroups: talk.abortion,talk.religion.misc Subject: In god we trust (Was Re:A fair reading!) Message-ID: <1991Aug30.110059.5532@iccgcc.decnet.ab.com> Date: 30 Aug 91 16:00:59 GMT Lines: 108 Newsgroups: talk.abortion, talk.religion.misc Subject: In god we trust [not] (Was Re: A Fair Reading!) In <9049@spdcc.SPDCC.COM>, fnord@spdcc.COM (Dan Schaeffer) writes in part, >This is true. However, there are a multitude of issues which the SC does >not "deign" to address, primarily because nobody brings a case before it >challenging the issue. I suspect -- in fact, I am virtually certain -- that >nobody has ever brought a case challenging the placement of "In God We Trust" >on U.S. legal tender. > Au contraire. Many of the patriotic citizens of the United States who are Atheists (take that, George Herbert Walker) take offense at the religious graffiti which has defaced our currency. The renowned, courageous defenders of state-church separation known as American Atheists did, in fact, "sue the bastards". First, some notes from "A Brief History of Religious Mottoes on United States Currency and Coins", by Madalyn O'Hair, published by the American Atheist Press. James Pollock, Secretary of the Treasury at the end of the Civil War, first issued the order to have IGWT placed on the 2-cent piece in 1865. It was placed on many other coins the following year. Things remained largely unchanged until Teddy Roosevelt's second term. In 1907 IGWT was dropped from the $10 and $20 gold pieces. The Congress of that time, as later, toadied to religious interests and passed a bill in 1908 restoring IGWT. Finally, during the period of Cold War hysteria, in 1955 Congress extended the use of the phrase to paper currency as well. There have actually been several legal attempts to remove the offensive phrase. On September 14, 1988, having failed in the judicial branch, we took a shot at the legislative. Mr. Jon Murray, President of American Atheists, gave written and verbal testimony before the House Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs and Coinage of the Commmittee on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs. The occasion was consideration of H.R. 3314, to design and produce a coin design commemorating the bicentenial of the Constitution. This was reported on at length in the September 1988 issue of American Atheist. Part of his written statement is extracted and reproduced below. It is important for the Committee to know that American Atheists and others have mounted legal challenges to the constitutionality of the motto "In god we trust" on the currency and coins in the past. Those attempts were unsuccessful but they have served as a learning experience for new legal actions which American Atheists intends to file in 1989, the Constitutional bicentennial year, in the federal courts. The prior cases were Aronow v. United States 432 F.2d 242 (1970) in the United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, and Madalyn Murray O'Hair, et al v. W. Michael Blumenthal, Secretary of the Treasury, et al 588 F.2d 1144 (1979) in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. In the former case, the Ninth Circuit ruled that "It is quite obvious that the national motto and the slogan on coinage and currency 'In god we trust' has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion. Its use is of a patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no true resemblance to a governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise" 432 F.2d 242, at 243. In the latter case, the United States District Court, Western District of Texas, speaking with a reference to the wording of the Ninth Circuit above, ruled in the O'Hair v. Blumenthal challenge that "From this it is easy to deduce that the Court concluded that the primary purpose of the slogan was secular; it served a secular ceremonial purpose in the obviously secular function of providing a medium of exchange. As such it is equally clear that the use of the motto on the currency or otherwise does not have a primary effect of advancing religion," 462 F.Supp. 19(W.D.Tex 1978), a ruling sustained by the Fifth Circuit....Neither Aronow v. United States nor O'Hair v. Blumenthal was accepted on petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States. [End of quote from Jon Murray; my comments follow.] As other posters to the Net have commented, this use of a religious motto seems unconstitutional on its face. It is certainly the position of both American Atheists and this poster to the Net that the laws mandating its use fail the Court's 3-part "Lemon test" of constitutionality with respect to the Establishment clause of the First Amendment. Briefly, the law in question "must reflect a clearly secular legislative purpose", second, "must have a primary effect that neither advances nor inhibits religion", and third, "must avoid excessive government entanglement with religion". These rules were enumerated in Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971) and have been referred to since then as the Lemon test. Consider the "purpose" cited by one Representative Bennett of Florida, from the Congressional Record of June 7, 1955: "At the base of our freedom is our faith in god and the desire of Americans to live by his will and his guidance. As long as this country trusts in god, it will prevail. To serve as a constant reminder of this truth, it is highly desirable that our currency and coins should bear these inspiring words 'In god we trust'." The decision above that the slogan was merely "of a patriotic or ceremonial character" having "nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion" just tells me how far a judge or set of judges is willing to go to ignore the Constitution and bend the law to favor their own personal religious values. Some judges just want to see religion intermingled with government, the Constitution be damned. This reminds me of another decision (no, I can't cite the case number) which held that the "Christian cross" was NOT a religious symbol, but merely "a geometric figure", and thus was constitutional for use on governmental buildings, at least in that jurisdiction. There is no such thing as a "neutral" judge; people invariably see issues in the light of their own personal prejudices. Whether or not something is ruled unconstitutional depends largely on who the judge is, and ultimately who appointed him or her. Consider that Reagan and Bush have appointed about 75% of the judges now on the three levels of the Federal judiciary. Remember that, the next time you vote for President. For those interested, the full text of Jon Murray's written remarks are available in a booklet from the American Atheist Press. He writes about the history of the slogan on our coinage/currency and why it is unconstitutional. Ask for publication no. 8402 and send a buck to American Atheist Press, P.O. Box 140195, Austin, Texas 78714-0195. +---------------------------+------------------------------------------------+ | Gary Parker | E-Mail: parker@iccgcc.decnet.ab.com | +---------------------------+------------------------------------------------+ | Men make gods in their own image | |----------------------------------------------------------------------------+ | The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Allen-Bradley Company,| | its parent company, or subsidiaries. Your actual mileage may vary. | +----------------------------------------------------------------------------+


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