Religion

Atheist Files Lawsuit Seeking Removal Of 'In God We Trust' From Currency

| by Nik Bonopartis

A litigious atheist wants the phrase "In God We Trust" removed from U.S. currency, according to his most recent lawsuit filed against the government.

Michael Newdow, a California attorney and doctor known for challenging religious phrasing in government, filed the 112-page federal suit on Jan. 12 in Ohio. Newdow's central argument is that the phrase -- which is the national motto -- is unconstitutional and should not be printed on American bank notes and coins, Cleveland.com reported.

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"The 'In G-d We Trust' phrase has continued to be a tool used to perpetuate favoritism for (Christian) Monotheism," Newdow wrote in the suit. "It has also continued to perpetuate anti-Atheistic bias."

It's not the first time Newdow has targeted American currency -- in 2005, he filed a similar lawsuit, which ultimately failed after several rounds of appeals lasting for three years. In 2002, he famously won a lawsuit against his daughter's school district over the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, but the Supreme Court later reversed that decision.

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In 2010, Newdow again challenged the use of "In God We Trust" on currency, but a federal appeals court ruled the phrase is constitutional.

This time, Newdow is suing on behalf of 41 plaintiffs, which include the Northern Ohio Freethought Society of Cleveland, as well as parents and children in Ohio and Michigan, the Plain Dealer reported. The individual plaintiffs are not named, and are referred to in the lawsuit as "Doe Child #1," "Roe Child #2," and so on. In the lawsuit, Newdow says those children will suffer persecution as atheists.

"Because he is not being raised to believe in a G-d," the lawsuit says of one child, "he will understandably be led to inquire about such an entity when Defendant's inscriptions of 'In God We Trust' are discussed in school. This will inevitably expose him to potential ridicule or peer pressure as a result of his atheism."

Government references to God, whether on currency or in schools, is tantamount to "setting the stage for religious persecution," Newdow argues.

Newdow lists Congress as a defendant, as well as officials from the Department of Treasury, the U.S. Mint and the Bureau of Printing and Engraving.

Sources: Cleveland.com, Newdow vs The United States of America / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons