Atheist activists are taking legal action against the U.S. Treasury. Their target? Currency.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a church-state separatist group, put out a press release on Tuesday announcing that the organization was joining 19 other plaintiffs in challenging “In God We Trust” on federal currency.
The challenge, being made in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, was filed on Feb. 1 — and a familiar face in the battle over the First Amendment will be leading the charge.
Well-known atheist activist Michael Newdow, who has fought incessantly to have U.S. courts rule that recitations of the “Pledge of Allegiance” in public schools are unconstitutional (the utterance includes the words “Under God”), will be representing the group.
“Our government is prohibited from endorsing one religion over another but also prohibited from endorsing religion over nonreligion,” FFRF’s Dan Barker said in the release. “The placement of a monotheistic ideal on our nation’s currency violates this stricture and is therefore unconstitutional.”
In the complaint, non-believers allege that “In God We Trust’s” presence on currency is problematic in that it is purportedly “proselytizing, discriminatory and a per se establishment of monotheism.” These accusations, in the eyes of non-believers, constitute a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause.
According to the plaintiffs, the choice to put the popular line on currency was religious in nature. The biggest issue they have with have with coinage is the fact that they are, by their own account, forcibly exposed to faith (and “proselytized”) by the U.S. government on a regular basis. This apparently occurs each and every time they handle money.
Non-believers also claim that they are being discriminated against and excluded due to the fact that they do not embrace a higher power. The “we” in “In God We Trust” is, thus, problematic for them, as it does not include their non-theistic worldview.
In addition to the FFRF, other plaintiffs include the group NYC Atheists, among countless atheist children and adults.
You can read the complaint in its entirety here.
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