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Congress confirms: “In God We Trust” is America’s official motto

Our national motto

It’s not exactly a new idea — that America’s motto should be “In God We Trust.” However, the House of Representatives made it official once again Wednesday by a vote of 396 to 9.

The Senate passed a similar resolution in 2006.

In fact, “In God We Trust” has been America’s legal, official motto since 1956. In 2002, in response to a court ruling, President George W. Bush signed into law a bill reaffirming the motto as well as the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. In 2006, the Senate reaffirmed the motto on the 50th anniversary of the 1956 law.


And in 2009, lawmakers ordered the words etched on the new Capitol Visitors Center — replacing a stone misstatement that the national motto is E pluribus unum — Latin for “Out of many, one.”

In God We Trust

But the idea has been around almost along as the United States has been a nation. During the War of 1812 — when the British decided to bring the rebellious American colonies back under the crown, a 35-year-old American lawyer is believed to be the first to put the idea down on paper.


Stuck in a British prison ship in Baltimore harbor, Francis Scott Key worried throughout the night that the naval bombardment of Fort McHenry would bring an end to the American dream. He peered through the dawn’s early light, earnestly hoping to spot the enormous, homemade Star-Spangled Banner that had defied the vast British navy.

It was still there.

Thrilled, he wrote a now-famous poem and ended it:

Oh! thus be it ever when free men shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation,
Blest with victory and peace, may the Heaven 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.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.


An 1869 two-penny coin

At least one Civil War regiment, the 125th Pennsylvania Infantry, assumed “In God We Trust” as their motto. Abraham Lincoln worried during his Second Inaugural Address that both sides in the war “read the same Bible and pray to the same God and each invokes His aid against the other.” Lincoln is said to have pushed Treasury Secretary Samuel Chase to order on December 9, 1863 that “In God We Trust” be added to our coins.


The $1 dollar coin motto

The Act of May 18, 1908 made it a legal requirement — in fact there was a backlash against the recent golden $1 coins featuring past presidents when “In God We Trust” was not to be found on their face. In fact, it is written around the rim.

Why did the House need to reaffirm — one more time — the motto?


“Unfortunately, there are a number of public officials who forget what the national motto is, whether intentionally or unintentionally,” said Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) late Tuesday afternoon during debate on the House floor. “There are those who become confused as to whether or not it can still be placed on our buildings, whether it can be placed in our school classrooms.

The Peace Dollar

“Almost a year ago, the president in making a speech across the world said that our national motto was ‘E pluribus unum. When the [U.S. Capitol] Visitor Center was opened … they did not have the national motto in there. In fact, they inscribed in the stones that our national motto was ‘E pluribus unum.'”

So, now, the record has been clarified again.

In God We Trust.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Beverly

    Who are the 9 who voted against the motto of our country? I want to donate funds to any candidate opposing them in their next bid for re-election.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Cruxxer

    Wonderful, Awesome, Complete, Brilliant, Magnificent, Amazing, Beautiful, Inspiring, Intelligent are the words fit for this historic, dynamic and decisive action done for the people and the nation. The Perfect Precise Providence I should add !!!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment bluebuss

    my motto to congress: get to work! i mean really? get to work!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Rakesh

    After all, who wants a national motto encouraging Americans of diverse beliefs and backgrounds to unite as one for the betterment of all when we can have a motto dictating to the populace a belief in God in an almost Taliban-like way? I mean, could you imagine the danger in allowing the individual to decide whether or not to believe without instruction from the state?!? Seriously, if there’s one thing we shouldn’t tolerate in a democracy, it’s individual thought!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Dan

    Well, It’s about time the greedy, coniving, bloodsuckers did something they could be proud about. And, also, good they finally gave obama a slap, which he deserves & many more !

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Charles Beltz

    ” In God We Trust ” is the way it should be

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Donald of Irish decent

    If the current President is oposed to ‘In God We Trust’, then he has had his wings clipped I would say. Moto or not, let’s hope most Americans trust in the God of their forefathers – Jesus Christ. Here’s another moto; Timor Dominae Initium Sapientiae (The Fear Of God Is The Beginning Of Wisdom)AMEN

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Rodney

    I believe that as a country, if we stick to the precepts of this motto, we will have a stronger ethical and moral fiber running throughout our country as a whole. Those who want to take prayer and God out of schools and our daily lives, have the freedom to go elsewhere. This country, despite it’s shortcomings of slavery and the current economic perils we face, has been founded on Godly principles and we need to hold steadfast to those principles. At times we have been lead by a few off of the path of righteousness but again if we hold fast to the principles laid down in the Bible we will find our way back to the point of respect ethically and morally for all. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you goes along way when you apply it to your everyday life.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Irene

    I’m so relieved, that we are a nation that can realize that without GOD we will perish. I pray it will never be ever questioned again.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Rakesh

    Actually, the principles of government which our country was founded on that allowed us to thrive were based on pagan Rome. The monarchies of Europe were based more on the systems of goverment recommended by the Bible.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Scott Cragin

    The founding fathers are turning over in their graves…

  • Rob Kerby, Senior Editor

    What a silly presumption!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Rakesh

    It really should also be pointed out that the founding fathers chose E Pluribus Unum to be on the seal of the United States and started that “mistaken” trend of using it as our nation’s motto. Good thing McCarthy and the Red Scare of the 1950’s was able to set them straight!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Rakesh

    Although, to be fair, the founding fathers didn’t seem to feel the need to actually pass a law enforcing it as the official motto as opposed to just frivolous words on the Seal of the United States. Everyone just considered it the motto by free choice. It unfortunately took our country a while to see the benefits of government-enforced conformity.

  • http://InGodisOurTrust!!! Teresa G

    Praise God the “motto” didn’t change. We can’t do anything without the Lord. He is our strength and our Refuge. When our nation comes to realize that things will fall in place. Keep Praying. tg

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment william

    Actually, rakesh from your rambling comments, I doubt you have ever read the Bible.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Beverly Blackwell

    Its sad we have to make that a law it ought to be a given just like prayers in school pledge to the flag etc in the 50s 60s that was as common as breathing i see socialism in Washington i heard it in the voice– words of our president people better wake up look up the word [socialism] government owns everyhing people have to depend on the gov for everything sound familiar? wake up America send him packing God’s wrath is worse than anything u can imagine read the Bible

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Loretta Woolley


  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Leleiga

    About time! America needs to put her money where her mouth is. We need to realize that when/if we take God out of our lives we are doomed. He is our hope, our salvation, our everything! Everything belongs to God! Out of His love, mercy, and grace we get it for free. Let’s give Him all the praise, the glory and honor.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Joy Bennett

    Our president should do more reading so he won’t be so confused about this issue.
    The fact he is president is but for the Grace of God!!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Carlos

    keeping In God we Trust in our monetary system and Buildings is the best legislation that Congress has accomplished. Now let the Lord guide them in these hard times.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment J. Langston

    It terrifies me that so many Americans advocate for a theocratic state. The United States is ruled by the consitution not the bible and it should stay that way. If you want to see an example of what happens to societies ruled by theocratic regimes just take a good look at the middle east.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment krisi


  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Teresa Hughes

    It makes me so proud that we still believe in God and are not ashamed to do so. Only 9 voted against this to continue to be our nation’s motto. That lets me know we still are a God believing nation.Thanks for posting this information to us.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Sharon

    The President is truly a Christian. He is not poking fun at any religious statement. God looks at the heart and speaks to the heart. Judge ye not!

  • Mike

    The idea that ‘E Pluribus Unum’ should be the national motto isn’t a “new idea,” either. In fact, it’s been around since 1782, when the founding fathers (you remember them, don’t you?) came up with it. Funny thing, huh?

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