Dispatches from the Creation Wars

“Liberty” vs “In God We Trust”

The US Treasury is about to put out a new $1 coin that will honor our first four presidents and the religious right is in the middle of a full freakout over the fact that the phrase “In God We Trust” will be on the edge of the coins rather than on the front or the back. Jay at STACLU doesn’t like it one bit. But here’s the funny part: none of them seem to have noticed, or appears to care, that the word “Liberty”, currently found on all American coins, has been removed completely from these new coins. That speaks volumes, doesn’t it?

Comments

  1. #1 Craig Pennington
    November 27, 2006

    What about the original motto for all US currency — E Pluribus Unum.

  2. #2 Cameron
    November 27, 2006

    The word “Liberty” may not be there but the Statue of Liberty is featured prominently. Not a total setback I think.

  3. #3 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    November 27, 2006

    Minority Report plan to stop future crimes

    LONDON: Criminal profilers in Britain are drawing up a list of the 100 most dangerous murderers and rapists of the future even before they commit such crimes.

  4. #4 DuWayne
    November 27, 2006

    Craig P said –
    What about the original motto for all US currency — E Pluribus Unum.

    It’s on the edge, across from “In God We Trust.”

  5. #5 KeithB
    November 27, 2006

    And since there are no plans to remove the one dollar bills from circulation, no one will see these, anyway. (Unless you buy postage from a USPS vending machine.)

  6. #6 Ed Brayton
    November 27, 2006

    Keith-

    Well yeah, the concern would be absurd anyway given that the only people who will ever see these are geeky coin collectors. Dollar coins will never be popularly used in this country because we get tired of being confused and paying 4 bucks for a coke out of a machine.

  7. #7 DuWayne
    November 27, 2006

    Ed said –

    Well yeah, the concern would be absurd anyway given that the only people who will ever see these are geeky coin collectors.

    Actually, I get them on a regular basis when I get change from the ticket machine on the light rail platforms, here in Portland. It is also becoming more common in “auto-cafs,” such as the ones in hospital waiting rooms.

  8. #8 Alejandro
    November 27, 2006

    From the U.S. Mint link in the post, there is an explanation for the missing “Liberty”:

    “The word “Liberty” does not appear on the presidential $1 coins, as it does on all other circulating coins. Rather, each coin represents this important value by depicting the Statue of Liberty on the reverse.”

    So they’ve replaced the word with what they believe is the symbol.

    With regard to the “In God We Trust”, as a Catholic, the location, or even existence, of this phrase on our currency has no impact on my religious belief or spiritual well-being. I figure our time is better spent trying to feed the poor than proselytizing on government currency.

    Doesn’t the “In God We Trust” conflict with the establishment clause?

  9. #9 kehrsam
    November 27, 2006

    Doesn’t the “In God We Trust” conflict with the establishment clause?

    Federal Courts have repeatedly held that this usage is part of our “civil religion” and not an endorsement, in the same sense that Presidents issue proclamations of thanksgiving and such. Televangelists seem to agree, worshipping the coin rather than the creator.

  10. #10 Troublesome Frog
    November 27, 2006

    The cynic in me wants to say that liberty just isn’t that big of a deal to our government these days, but the cynic in me also can’t see them admitting to that fact on the coins they print.

  11. #11 Scott
    November 27, 2006

    They moved it away from a great woman figure in history, Susan B Anthony, to an interesting woman figure in history, Sacagawea, and now it’s back to the old white guys who have more monuments and memorials than teeth. What was wrong with Susan, again, that couldn’t have been fixed by making her gold?

  12. #12 Chuck
    November 27, 2006

    If you take the First Amendment and the concept of religious liberty and freedom of conscience seriously, “In God We Trust” as a national motto is outrageous. If you are a religious person, it would seem that the word “God” stamped on common currency is a bit undignified for the supreme being, no? Either way, nothing good can come of it, although it seems like such a small matter that I doubt Congress should take the time to remove it.

  13. #13 The Ridger
    November 27, 2006

    I hope they have the decency to leave that motto off the Teddy Roosevelt coin, given that he was delighted to discover he didn’t have to put it on coins when he was president. Of course, his decision not to do so led to Congress making it mandatory… and also, of course, it was because he felt putting it on money was close to sacrilege. And I have to admit, mostly it leads to bad jokes about no credit rather than any kind of religious feeling.

  14. #14 Martin Wagner
    November 27, 2006

    What was wrong with Susan, again, that couldn’t have been fixed by making her gold?

    Well, before the SBA$ came out, few people knew or cared who she was, and after the coin, she’s now known not as a historical personage but as the person who’s on that dumb failed coin.

    Folks just tend to associate dead presidents and not random historical figures with money.

  15. #15 PennyBright
    November 27, 2006

    I’m looking forward to the new coins – in my family we are avid seekers and users of dollar coins. I’m a little disappointed they went back to the silver look though – the gold look was great! We’ll keep hunting up the Sacajawea’s for special occasions, I guess.

    I’m ambivalent on the “in god we trust” being on the coins – the arguments against it are clear and well reasoned, but it seems a little like the monetary equivalent of correcting someone who says “bless you” to a sneeze. Okay yeah, I see the principle – but what’s the point?

    It’s one of those issues that I just can’t bring myself to care too much about – if it ever came to a vote, I’d vote for removing it, and if someone asked me to sign a petition to get it voted on, I would. But you won’t find me out there asking people to sign petitions on this one.

  16. #16 Bob Carroll
    November 27, 2006

    As was alluded to, but not stated, probably because it’s trite: In God we trust; all others pay cash.

  17. #17 Rick
    November 28, 2006

    and a *rimshot* for Bob Carroll!

  18. #18 RickD
    November 28, 2006

    FWIW, I think the Statue of Liberty is an adequate replacement for the word “liberty”. Also, the adoption of the motto “In God We Trust” is clearly a violation of the Establishment Clause, but we’ll never get a Congress or a Supreme Court filled with theists to agree to this fairly obvious point.

  19. #19 mark
    November 28, 2006

    I guess the point of having the presidents on the obverse is to make a desirable collectables (“Collect the whole set!”) It worked so well with the quarters. Maybe the next round could be the top 50 campaign contributors.

  20. #20 Garrett
    November 28, 2006

    Dude, make your dollar coins a different colour like ours up here in Canada. Then you won’t confuse them for quarters. And you haven’t seemed to catch on to this with your all green bills yet either.

  21. #21 jpf
    November 28, 2006

    Garrett–

    We’re getting there. The Sacagawea dollar was goldish and these presidential ones are going to be too, and we are gradually adding color (not colour) to the front of our greenbacks: Grant is in a purple haze, Jackson is highlighted by a warm coffee stain (or maybe it’s old, dried blood?), and Jefferson is being beaten back by a giant red torch. No word yet on Lincoln’s update in 2008, but I’m betting on a muted rainbow motif.

    I just wished we had one of those cool coin-within-a-coin deals like you guys’ $2 polar bear.

    BTW, How can the idea of a “civil religion” officially recognized by the Government not be the establishment of a religion? Is it just because it’s a vague one that none of the civilians actually practice?

  22. #22 Jeff
    November 28, 2006

    In consideration of the First Ammendment, I also find it hard to believe that “In God We Trust” appears on our currency.

    I agree with Garret:
    “How can the idea of a “civil religion” officially recognized by the Government not be the establishment of a religion?”

    If you insist on having that phrase appear on your legal tender, have it imprinted on your checks, and stop trying to use the government to push your religion down our throats.

  23. #23 Dave S.
    November 28, 2006

    jpf says:

    I just wished we had one of those cool coin-within-a-coin deals like you guys’ $2 polar bear.

    That’s a toonie. Unlike yourselves, we never had anything against $2 denomination notes or coins. Last year we had quarters that were dyed with a small red poppy for Remembrance Day. I think it was the first time a mint produced a coin in a colour other than the base colour of the metal(s).

    I wonder where all the 50 cent pieces are. Scarce as hens teeth in circulation.

  24. #24 DuWayne
    November 28, 2006

    Garret –

    I would prefer they made them bigger. They are a different colour already, but they are nearly the same size as a quarter – hard to differentiate when they’re in your pocket. Especialy hard to tell when your in a hurry getting on the bus. I hate accidently switching a dollar for a quarter and spending $2+ for my bus fare.

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