The US House of Representatives will have a chance to vote on a resolution to affirm the phrase "In God We Trust" as the nation’s official motto after it was approved by the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
Congressman J. Randy Forbes (R-VA), the founder and chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, sponsored the legislation. It would encourage the public display of the motto in all public buildings, public schools and government institutions.
He said he introduced the bill in January because he was troubled by a pattern of omitting God from the nation's heritage.
"There is a small minority who believes America does not have the right to trust in God, who believes the United States should not affirm trust in God, and who actively seek to remove any recognition of that trust," Forbes said.
The phrase "In God We Trust" was made the official U.S. motto in 1956, one year after the phrase "under God" was incorporated into the Pledge of Allegiance.
Critics of the resolution said it violated the establishment clause of the Constitution, which states that "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion."
"The phrase ‘In God We Trust’ does not apply to the more than 16 percent of Americans who identify themselves as atheist, agnostic, nonreligious, or unaffiliated, and it does not apply to religious Americans who do not have Judeo-Christian beliefs," said Sean Faircloth, executive director of the Secular Coalition for America. "Branding our secular country with a religious motto only creates division among its citizens and erodes the wall of separation between church and state."
Forbes claimed the resolution addressed different religions across the country and was not "just about Christians." He said the resolution is meant to affirm the importance of God in the heritage of the United States.
Photo credit: Ad Meskens