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A federal appeals court upheld the national motto displayed on all U.S. currency, protecting religion and rejecting an attempt to strip “In God We Trust” from all coins and bills.

The phrase first appeared on coins in 1864 and was adopted as the national motto of the United States in 1956. The case brought to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals was the latest in a string of lawsuits by atheist activist Dr. Michael Newdow, who argued that including “In God We Trust” on U.S. currency violates their practice of atheism under the First Amendment.

Yesterday, the court ruled against Newdow in the case of New Doe Child #1 v. The Congress of the United States, protecting religion and God and upholding the appearance of the national motto on money. Their ruling adopted an argument under a 2014 Supreme Court case that rulings on the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment must be interpreted within the context of U.S. history on religion in the public square.

The court said that in the Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in the Town of Greece v. Galloway “offered an unequivocal directive” that “the Establishment Clause must be interpreted by reference to historical practices and understandings.” The court called it a major change in how rulings are handed down in Establishment Clause cases, overruling previous case laws that threaten governmental acknowledgment of religions.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty argued against Newdow in a friend-of-the-court briefing, informing the Eighth Circuit of the 2014 decision by the Supreme Court.

“The good news is you no longer need to be afraid that the pennies in your pocket are gateway drugs to theocracy. The Court was right to say that the First Amendment does not ban ‘In God We Trust.’ For too long, the country has been stuck in what Justice Gorsuch once described as ‘Establishment Clause purgatory.’ The court’s decision today is a huge step towards setting things right.” – Diana Verm, legal counsel at Becket

You can read the full document from the Eight Circuit detailing their decision here.

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