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'In God We Trust' Was a Florida Congressman's Lasting Legacy

April 20, 2017 - 6:00am

“In God We Trust," which is one of the main legacies of the longest serving member in Congress in Florida’s history, is under attack. 

During his long tenure in Congress, which ran from when he was first elected in 1948 until deciding not to run again in 1992, U.S. Rep. Charles Bennett, D-Fla., left a lasting legacy on the First Coast. A veteran who served in World War Two and something of a historian who wrote numerous works on North Florida, Bennett was instrumental in shaping and expanding Jacksonville’s military bases and creating the Fort Caroline National Memorial and the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve.

Still, Bennett’s biggest legacy might be making “In God We Trust,” which was already the motto of the state of Florida, the official motto of the United States. Back in 1955, Bennett sponsored the legislation making that phrase, which came from the fourth verse of Francis Scott Key’s “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the nation’s motto and ensuring it would be included on American currency. While the phrase first appeared on currency back in 1864, it fell off some of it--namely the nickel--for more than five decades. President Dwight Eisenhower signed Bennett’s legislation into law in 1956. Starting the next year, the phrase started appearing on all paper money as well as coins. 

Bennett took to the House floor to make the case for his proposal. 

“Nothing can be more certain than that our country was founded in a spiritual atmosphere and with a firm trust in God,” Bennett said. “While the sentiment of trust in God is universal and timeless, these particular four words ‘In God We Trust’ are indigenous to our country.” 

Charles Bennett
Charles Bennett

Bennett also said the Cold War prompted his push to make “In God We Trust” the national motto, insisting the phrase would “serve as a constant reminder” that faith was important to any democratic republic. 

This week, Becket, a non-profit legal institution which defends the role of liberty in the public square, urged the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to reject atheist Dr. Michael Newdow’s, an attorney and physician, latest effort to remove the national motto from American currency. Newdow has argued that the national motto violates the Constitution's Establishment Clause and  “burdens his religious exercise.” Over the years, Newdow has attempted--and failed--to remove “under God” from the “Pledge of Allegiance,” stop prayers and references to God at presidential inaugurations and his efforts to remove the national motto from the currency were rejected before, including by a federal court in New York in 2014. 

Diana Verm, a legal counsel at Becket, pushed back on Tuesday. 

“This is not Iran or Saudi Arabia,” said Verm,. “No reasonable person would pick up a penny, see the words ‘In God We Trust,’ and panic because we’ve become a theocracy.

“‘God’ is not a dirty word,” Verm added. “Dr. Newdow has every right to hold his beliefs, but he doesn’t have the right to impose them on the rest of us.”

Even with his string of legal defeats, Newdow shows no signs of stopping his various efforts. The fight over “In God We Trust” will in all likelihood continue, even as, thanks to a congressman from the First Coast, the motto continues to appear on dollars and coins across the country. 

Comments

You will also find demonstrable links between long-lasting democratic traditions and Christianity - note the number of democracies that contain the cross in their flags, if a starting point for a serious inquiry is desired.

The Epistemological Foundation of Technology According to Alfred North Whitehead and J. Robert Oppenheimer, both renowned philosophers and scientists of our era (but not Christians themselves), modern science was born out of the Christian world view. Whitehead said that Christianity is the "mother of science" because of the insistence on the rationality of God.[1] Entomologist Stanley Beck,though not a Christian himself, acknowledged the corner-stone premises of science which the Judeo-Christian world view offers: "The first of the unprovable premises on which science has been based is the belief that the world is real and the human mind is capable of knowing its real nature. The second and best-known postulate underlying the structure of scientific knowledge is that of cause and effect. The third basic scientific premise is that nature is unified."[2] In other words, the epistemological foundation of technology has been the Judeo-Christian world view presented in the Bible.

"allah ackbar" is just as religiously neutral, and just as inappropriate.

A majority of Americans cannot decide that we will discard our right to freedom from religion under the Establishment Clause. Just because the motto exists does not make it automatically constitutional. It has been challenged in court for 45 years and will be until it is gone.

Jerry, if you don't like the phrase on US currency quit using it. I'm sure someone will barter with you in gold or bitcoins (getting change back might be a problem, however). You can buy the stuff electronically--that way your tender, sensitive eyes and self, won't be offended by seeing the phrase.

In God we trust. All others pay cash.

Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” I will chose Solomon to make my point. You can stick with Archie Bunker.

Romans 3:8 "Let us practice evil things, that good may come." (The "mother of all bombs" is just one pertinent example...)

Look at how far the Democrats have fallen... From promoting "In God We Trust" and service to the public to the current bunch of Godless elitists who's ideology demands that they choose how you should live your life instead of letting you decide for yourself and should the public not go along they will riot and create mayhem.

Unless one can prove a god exists, it shouldn't be in the government at all................ 'Faith is believing in something no one in their right mind would believe' Archie Bunker............. And certainly few republicans believe in God from their actions......................... And just who's god are we talking about?..................There has been a $10mm cash prize for anyone that can prove a god exists for decades yet no one has won it. Why?

If choose not to believe in God, Jerry , that is your right. But majority of Americans do, and the majority like having it on our money. Why should that bother you that we believe so strongly in God? In America we have freedom of choice, to believe or not believe. Do younot know that the pilgrims came to America specifically to have FREEDOM to worship as they chose? Also, have you not heard, our entire legal system comes from the Judeo-Christian values.

The Constitution protect the rights of the individual over those of a majority, especially a tyrannical majority...like Christians. As for Judeo-Christian values, you have been misinformed...by the pulpit.

No, freethought, I was not told this from the pulpit. I got this information from reading Old Testament. I was never told this by any other person. I am an intelligent person who can read. That's all it takes to see where our legal system came from. I would suggest that you read it for yourself, but I know you won't. You have already made up your mind without reading the Bible.

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