The United States recently celebrated the 60th anniversary of “In God We Trust” as our National motto established as a law passed by the 84th congress and approved by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on July 30, 1956. As Christians we are confident this declaration originates from the Bible with passages such as Psalm chapter 16 and verse 1 that says, “Preserve me, O God: for in Thee do I put my trust.” This sentiment has been well documented throughout our nation’s history as a spiritual acknowledgment of our faith in the God of the Bible.
One hundred years before “In God We Trust” became our national motto, urgent appeals were made from individuals such as Rev. M.R. Watkinson in 1861 to inscribe our faith in God on our currency. As a result of the growing desire of the masses, Salmon P. Chase, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury under President Abraham Lincoln fervently responded by instructing James Pollock, director of the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, to begin this task as was recorded on November 1861: “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.”
It is recorded that James Pollock warmly replied in October 1863, “Its legends and devices should declare our trust in Him who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Let us reverently acknowledge His sovereignty, and let our coinage declare our trust in God.” On March 3, 1865, the proposal was unanimously passed by congress to approve the motto “In God We Trust” for all U.S. coins. And on July 11, 1954, a month after “under God” was added into the Pledge of Allegiance, Congress voted to incorporate the motto on all United States currency.
In 1950, “In God We Trust” was inscribed over the South entrance to the U.S. Senate Chamber and above the rostrum in the House of Representatives in 1962. On February 9, 1961, President John F. Kennedy spoke at a dedication breakfast of International Christian Leadership and is quoted: “No man who enters upon the office to which I have succeeded can fail to recognize how every President of the United States has placed special reliance upon his faith in God. Every President has taken comfort and courage when told, as we are told today that the Lord will be with thee. He will not fail thee nor forsake thee. Fear not – neither be thou dismayed. The guiding principal and prayer of this nation has been, is now, and shall ever be, “In God We Trust.”
In a March 19, 1981 proclamation for a National Day of Prayer, President Ronald Reagan declared: “Our nation’s motto, “In God We Trust” was not chosen lightly. It reflects a basic recognition that there is a divine authority in the universe to which this nation owes homage.” Here are more quotes from Reagan. “Without God, there is no virtue because there is no prompting of the conscience. And without God, democracy will not and cannot endure. If we ever forget that we are one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.” “I believe with all my heart that standing up for America means standing up for the God who has so blessed our land. We need God’s help to guide our nation through stormy seas. But we cannot expect Him to protect America in a crisis if we just leave Him over on the shelf in our day-to-day living.” “Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged.” Sadly, we are witnessing a falling away from spiritual truth that includes the reverential fear toward a holy and sovereign God to intervene into the affairs of mankind. It is good to have a noble motto but like all good intentions, it is only as strong as the convictions behind it.
Dr. Holland lives in Central Kentucky with his wife Cheryl, where he is a Christian outreach minister and chaplain. Each week, look for his faith column, “Living On Purpose” to find thought provoking messages of inspiration, hope and encouragement. To learn more, visit billyhollandministries.com.