The motto matters "In God We Trust."
Posted: November 29, 2006
1:00 a.m. Eastern

The bombardment was relentless. On the morning of Sept. 13, 1814, after ransacking Washington, D.C., British vessels began shelling Fort McHenry in Maryland in an effort to take the city of Baltimore. The shelling continued throughout the day and into the night, the big guns resounding like peals of thunder across the bay. Aboard one of the British ships a 35-year-old patriot lawyer named Francis Scott Key, there to negotiate the release of a friend from captivity by the British, anxiously observed the attack. On the morning of the 14th, the sun broke the horizon and the thick clouds of smoke in the bay started to clear. In the distance, Key saw the American flag still billowing in the breeze high above the fort. America had withstood the attack, and Key was inspired to write what would become our national anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner," which reads in part:

Blest with vict'ry and peace may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto – "In God is our Trust."

Years later, as the country was embroiled in a civil war, Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase – at the suggestion of a Pennsylvania minister – ordered the director of the U.S. Mint to come up with a proposal for a motto to place on coins, observing, "No nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or safe except in His defense. The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins." Two years later, "In God We Trust" was selected as the fitting inscription.

In 1956, Congress passed a Joint Resolution declaring "In God We Trust" to be the national motto of the United States. At the time, Rep. Charles Bennett succinctly explained the purpose behind the Resolution:

As long as this country trusts in God, it will prevail. To serve as a constant reminder of this truth, it is highly desirable that our currency and coins should bear these inspiring words: "In God We Trust."

The motto has been displayed in the corridors of government power and on the currency of the country ever since.

The guiding principle that has undergirded this nation from its beginning has been an abiding reliance on the providence of God. In 1776, our Founding Fathers pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor "with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence." Upon the "Laws of Nature and Nature's God" they declared the country's independence from Great Britain and established an enduring form of government.

Every president has invoked the favor and guidance of God in his inaugural address. On March 4, 1805, Thomas Jefferson asked for "favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our fathers, as Israel of old." On March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln observed that, "Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity and a firm reliance on Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land" would guide the nation through its "present difficulty." During World War II, Franklin D. Roosevelt declared, "We do not retreat. ... As Americans, we go forward ... by the will of God." Similarly, John F. Kennedy in 1961 pledged to go forth "to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help." These are only a few examples of presidents who trusted in God to lead our nation and survive such evils as foreign imperialism, civil war and Nazism.

Congress, too, has implored God's favor, from asking President Washington to declare a national day of thanksgiving to God at the inception of our first Congress in 1789 to members assembling on the front steps of the Capitol to sing "God Bless America" following the attack on the World Trade Center. Is it any wonder, then, that this nation's motto boldly proclaims, "In God We Trust"?

Yet, a disgruntled few offended by the motto want it excised from our law and removed from our money, and they have the audacity to misuse the Constitution to get their way. Michael Newdow – the same atheist who crusaded to have "under God" erased from the Pledge of Allegiance – has challenged the constitutionality of "In God We Trust," our national motto, claiming that it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. This week the Foundation for Moral Law will file a legal brief opposing Mr. Newdow's claim showing that the First Amendment was never intended to prevent our country from acknowledging a reliance upon God and His providence.

Much like the day when Francis Scott Key stood on the deck of the British ship and watched the continuous shelling of Fort McHenry, our nation is under an attack that threatens our survival. This time an enemy from within seeks to destroy America's godly heritage and force us to surrender our public faith in God. We must withstand this bombardment by realizing that the shells of atheism lack the powder of truth and will not enjoy success if we stand together and fight! Then, when the smoke clears, the flag of our faith will be seen as a beacon to the rest of the world and our national motto as a testament to our trust in God.