American currency uses the phrase "In God We Trust" which is a clear violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution. This is to the First Amendment roughly like saying "No Guns Allowed" everywhere would be to the Second Amendment, but if we did that to the Second Amendment people would be up in arms (as it were). But since it is merely the First Amendment nobody cares.
Anyway, that is what our money says now, but in the past, it did not say that. The "In God We Trust" was added during the Red Scare, when American started putting screenplay writers in jail and neighbors turned in neighbors over their political views. The nation, it would seem, had a strong need to get in bed with god during the 1950s and early 1960s. Maybe this is because we were the first and only nation to drop Atom Bombs on other people and we were frightened four our souls. Who knows?
Anyway, there is still some of that old, pre "In God We Trust" money left, and Minnesota Atheists are auctioning some of it off to raise money to fund Atheists Talk Radio. As you know, Atheist Talk Radio often does interviews with interesting scientists, and sometime I do those interviews myself. (Sometimes I'm the one being interviewed.) So you know if they're doing science, it's a good show. I've interviewed John Hawks, Don Prothero, Kevin Zelnio and John Abraham, Martin Rundkvist and Yusie Chou, Neil deGrasse Tyson, PZ Myers, Ira Flatow, and Massimo Pigliucci. And more.
This is your opportunity to help raise a little bit of money for Minnesota Atheists. The money is being auctioned off here, on Ebay. PLEASE GO RIGHT NOW AND PLACE A BID so you can have a nice, framable god-free twenty dollar bill.
The auction ends in just a few hours so ACT QUICKLY!!!!
If you place the winning bid tonight, you'd be funding most of one Sunday's worth of show time, approximately.
Actually we didn't trust god with our money until 1863, when Salmon P Chase had it added to the coinage. And given that coins, particularly silver and gold were the preferred medium of exchange its absence from the paper money was not particularly important.And I got a $10 printed in 1950 in change when in Lone Pine CA (coming off the trail). Still keep it in my trail diary as my "just in case" bill.
For one, I just don't see the big deal over whether or not our money has a religious statement on it. It's also green(ish), has Arabic numerals, pictures, and all manner of things (legal tender for all debts public and private, and what-not).
I really can't see why anyone would be truly offended by it unless they chose to be offended by it. I'm personally far more offended by paper money being a permeable carrier of disease and the occasional trace of cocaine. ;)
Besides, this printed statement in no way prevents your free exercise of religion, and as it does not specify a particular god or deity, or require that you pay homage to a particular god or deity prior to using cash, it is a rather weak argument that those four words constitute an establishment of religion by the government.
Now, if you had to say a prayer, or "God bless!" any time you chose to spend the money, that would be something else.
I just feel that going after small, insignificant things like this make the atheist "cause," if you will, seem petty and irrational to outside observers (like myself, as I have absolutely no dog in this fight). Maybe it's a bigger deal to truer non-believers (wow, that phrase sounds odd).
Please don't perceive my lack of perception of an offense to be an offense in and of itself. :)
I'd like to revise my comment slightly. One could interpret the statement as advocating a religion over no religion, which has been interpreted by the courts as part of your 1st amendment rights. I'd still argue that it's not a particularly forceful "establishment," though.