CFI Memo: "E Pluribus Unum" Rather Than "In God We Trust"

As you may have heard, religious conservatives in the U.S. House of Representatives have introduced a divisive and disrespectful resolution "reaffirming" In God We Trust as the national motto....This obvious ploy to divide the nation along religious lines is utterly shameful. It excludes the millions of American non-believers, as well as the millions of Americans of minority religions that do not believe in a monotheistic god. The resolution also distracts Congress's attention from the many pressing national issues confronting it.

Congress only adopted "In God We Trust" as the national motto in 1956, when American leaders sought to distinguish the United States from the communist Soviet Union. By invoking belief in a monotheistic divinity, however, Congress divided the American populace along religious lines by reinforcing the outsider status of the nation's many nonbelievers, as well as members of minority religions that do not recognize a monotheistic god (including, for example, Buddhists and Hindus). Polls show that 16% of Americans have no religious identity, while over 40 million Americans do not identify with the motto's monotheistic God.

A far better motto for the nation is the Latin motto adopted in 1782 as part of the national seal: "E Pluribus Unum," or "Out of many, one." America's original motto accurately describes the nation as a unity comprising people from many religious perspectives. Link