Fighting the proliferation of “In God We Trust” displays on government property is an uphill battle; these displays are multiplying at a breathtaking rate. We need any legal advantage we can gain to keep church and state separate–and we need your help!
One potential avenue to legally challenging the use of “In God We Trust” on government property is to show that the IGWT motto is now seen as actually endorsing religion, as opposed to simply representing the ceremonial deism of the founding fathers. This ceremonial deist argument has been the go-to for arguing in court that “In God We Trust” displays don’t violate the Establishment clause, as they aren’t actually intended as a religious statement by the government.
However, if evidence shows that the public no longer sees “In God We Trust” as ceremonial deism, but instead sees it as an explicit endorsement of religion, then a court challenge may be able to show that these displays do in fact violate the Establishment cause. The endorsement test proposed by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in the 1984 case of Lynch v. Donnelly suggests that a government action is invalid if it creates a perception in the mind of a reasonable observer that the government is either endorsing or disapproving of religion. If the government is generally seen as endorsing Christianity with its “In God We Trust” displays, it thus violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, even if the government’s original intent was to symbolize ceremonial deism only.
Here’s how you can help win the fight: We’re building a database of comments that show this public perception of endorsement. When you see a comment online that indicates an “In God We Trust” display is being seen as an official endorsement of religion, you can submit it to our database along with a link to where you saw it. Your submissions will be incredibly helpful in proving the case against allowing “In God We Trust” displays in government and public institutions.
These comments take many forms; you’ll see them all over the Internet in forums, on social media, on official government pages, etc. Here are a few samples of the kinds of comments to look out for:
“America is a Christian nation and these new police car decals in my town prove that! The rest of you can suck it up!”
“ON The American money ‘In God We Trust’ there is THE ONLY religion RIGHT THERE! so forget this ‘separation of govt and religion’”
“So glad our city hall recognizes that we are a christian city here with the new ‘In God We Trust’ sign!”
Please help us win this battle for church-state separation all across America! Submit any such comments you find to our Endorsement Comment Database here:
If you can’t see the form click the button below to go directly to the online form.