A movement aimed at removing “In God We Trust” from U.S. money is underway, but this time from an unlikely angle — the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Michael Newdow, an attorney most known for his attempts to exclude “under God” from public school recitals of the Pledge of Allegiance, is behind this effort.
Newdow explains his case for using the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in a post published by the Friendly Atheist in May.
“Under RFRA, religious activity may not be substantially burdened without a compelling governmental interest and laws narrowly tailored to serve that interest,” writes Newman. “There is obviously no compelling government interest in having ‘In God We Trust’ on our money.”
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Newdow further states that lawsuits are being prepared in seven federal circuits.
Initiatives to tackle “In God We Trust” on American money have usually rested on the establishment clause, a portion of the First Amendment that says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Newdow argued for the removal of “In God We Trust” from American money in a 2013 lawsuit, citing a violation of the First Amendment. U.S. District Judge Harold Baer, Jr., dismissed the lawsuit, writing that “the Supreme Court has repeatedly assumed the motto’s secular purpose and effect,” reported The Associated Press.
“Although the arguments demonstrating that the godly inscriptions violate the Establishment Clause will again be raised, the RFRA claim will (for the first time) be the lead argument in each case,” writes Newdow about the new lawsuits.
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In 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the RFRA was only applicable at the federal level. Twenty-one states has enacted their own RFRAs, with Indiana recently making headlines for its controversial religious freedom laws.
Photo Credit: Flickr/Folashade Adeyosoye