In the excitement of the extension of the 50 State Quarters Program to include the District of Columbia and the five territories, the omnibus bill also calls for the removal of the motto “IN G-D WE TRUST” from the edge to the front of both the Presidential Dollars and the updated Sacagawea Dollars (Native American $1 Coin Act). Section 623 of House Report 110-497 (H.R.2764) changes Title 31 of the US Code Section 5112(n)(2) (31 USC §5112(n)(2)) to alter the Presidential Dollars and 31 USC §5112(r)(2) for the updated Sac Dollars.

According to the bill, “The change required by the amendments made by subsections (a) and (b) shall be put into effect by the Secretary of the Treasury as soon as is practicable after the date of enactment of this Act.” Considering the bill has yet to be signed (as of 12/21), it might be too late for the James Monroe dollars. However, there may be enough time to “fix” the John Quincy Adams dollars.

From what could be found, it appears that the measure was inserted by a Republican member (at this time rumored to be Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS)) upset over what was called “G-Dless dollars” caused by edge lettering errors. When the edge letter errors first occurred, the uninformed and easily aroused were told that the US Mint removed the motto from the coins on purpose. Conspiracy theorist, anti-government critics, and the religious right became enraged over a mistake. Since then, bills have been introduced in the House and Senate to move the motto to the obverse of the coin. None have had hearings in either house.

I do not like the reason why this was done. Religion is a matter for the clergy and not congress. ALL religions should be respected and not a matter of legislation. Religion is personal and should not be legislated. Yet some members of congress feel they have to proselytize as they legislate. Arrogant members of congress are forcing their religious convictions on the public through our money. I feel is a violation of the First Amendment: Congress shall make NO LAW respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. I know the courts do not agree with me, but I feel they are very wrong!

My feeling regarding the use of this motto on coins was best expressed by President Theodore Roosevelt:

My own feeling in the matter is due to my very firm conviction that to put such a motto on coins, or to use it in any kindred manner, not only does no good but does positive harm, and is in effect irreverence, which comes dangerously close to sacrilege… it seems to me eminently unwise to cheapen such a motto by use on coins, just as it would be to cheapen it by use on postage stamps, or in advertisements.

This provision is buried in a large piece of legislation that is critical to the operations of the government. It was done in a manner that prevented discussion and debate by spineless politicians looking to curry favor with their ignorant constituents. Unfortunately, those of us who like the move for its numismatic design value will have to put up with congressional ineptitude.

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