A judge recently struck down a case regarding the religious wording on U.S. currency. The plaintiff argued that the phrase “In God We Trust,” that is seen on American dollars, is a breach of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and places a burden on a person’s right to exercise religious freedom.
The federal lawsuit, which was filed in Akron, Ohio, was unique for relying not on the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, but on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). In essence, Newdow took the same argument used by Hobby Lobby to get out of covering contraception for its employees and said that the U.S. Treasury couldn’t push God onto atheists without a “compelling governmental interest,” which he says they don’t have.
The Ohio judge, Benita Pearson disagreed with the plaintiff, issuing that they had no proof of the claimed burden, and stated the following:
“Plaintiffs cannot demonstrate that the use of the motto on currency substantially burdens their religious exercise,” she wrote in her ruling. “Credit cards and checks allow Plaintiffs to conduct the bulk of their purchases with currency not inscribed with the motto. And for cash-only transactions, such as a garage sale or a coin-operated laundromat, the use of the motto on currency does not substantially burden Plaintiffs’ free exercise.”
The attorney who has been the main plaintiff and standing behind the case is California attorney Michael Newdow, who has been on a mission to rid the words “Under God,” from the Pledge of Allegiance. And now he is set on removing “In God We Trust,” from American currency. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court’s Northern District of Ohio in 2015. Newdow is claiming that the phrase is in violation of the First and Fifth Amendments, along with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
“Plaintiffs either specifically do not trust in any ‘G-d’ (with NOT trusting G-d being a basic tenet of their belief systems) or hold G-d’s name so dear and exalted that to inscribe it on a monetary instrument is deemed sinful,” said Newdow in his court documentation.