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Use of "In God We Trust" on Coins and Currency

Court rules that use of the national motto does not violate the First Amendment.

Key point. The first amendment's prohibition of the establishment of religion does not invalidate all references to religion in our public life.

A federal appeals court ruled that use of the national motto "in God we trust" on coins and currency did not violate the first amendment's nonestablishment of religion clause. The court applied the United States Supreme Court's three—part Lemon test for determining whether or not the practice constituted an impermissible establishment of religion. Under this test, first announced in a 1971 decision (Lemon v. Kurtzman), a law or government practice challenged as an establishment of religion will be valid only if it satisfies the following three conditions-a secular purpose, a primary effect that neither advances nor inhibits religion, and no excessive entanglement between church and state. The court concluded that all of these tests ...

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  • March 3, 1997

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