While many use the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to preserve their religious beliefs, that very law may be the reason why the religious phrase “In God We Trust” could disappear off of US currency.
Attorney Michael Newdow, who is behind the effort to drop the slogan, said in a post on the Friendly Atheist website and reported by the BayouBuzz, “Under RFRA, religious activity may not be substantially burdened without a compelling governmental interest and laws narrowly tailored to serve that interest." As a result, he said, "There is obviously no compelling government interest in having ‘In God We Trust’ on our money."
Newdow previously famously worked on the case to remove from public school classrooms the phrase “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. However, this case with the currency is also not new for the attorney. In fact, he has been working for years on the removal of the religious phrase from US coins and bills.
In 2003, he tried to use the Establishment Clause to remove the phrase. This clause states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” However, the Supreme Court shot him down, claiming that the phrase was actually secular, reports World Religion News.
In May of 2014, Newdow and other atheists lost again in Newdow v. United States of America when the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled that the phrase was simply a "reference to the country’s religious heritage," according to the Huffington Post.
Many groups and people were happy with this 2014 ruling, including Rory Gray of the Alliance Defending Freedom. Gray told Huffington Post, "Americans need not be forced to abandon their religious heritage simply to appease someone’s animosity toward anything that references God."
However, these rulings have not set back efforts by Newdow and others, who continue to look for ways to finally achieve their goal. In fact, Newdow is still very much adamant in his position and looks to RFRA for support.
“Imagine if Christians had to carry on their body something they disagree with religiously… How long do you think that would stand?” Newdow told to World Religion News. He added, “Atheists are so denigrated in this society that people accept this without a second thought.”
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