Atheist Michael Newdow is taking advantage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), using it to challenge the “In God We Trust” that’s inscribed on U.S. coinage and currency.
Newdow argues that the inscription goes against the first ten words of the Bill of Rights, which state that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Complaints that state that “In God We Trust” goes against the Constitution have failed in the past.
So Newdow, an attorney and physician, is hoping that he’ll be able to argue that the motto, established by the U.S. in 1956, violates the RFRA under the section that states that “religious activity may not be substantially burdened without a compelling governmental interest and laws narrowly tailored to serve that interest.”
He writes that, “for those who feel that being forced by the government to carry a message that violates their religious ideals is substantially burdensome, lawsuits are now being prepared in the seven (of twelve) federal circuits that have not yet heard challenges to this governmental practice.”
Newdow asks people to “Join in and help make our nation stronger as it continues on its trajectory towards truly equal respect and protection for people of all races, of all national origins, of all genders, of all sexual orientations, and — as stated in the Constitution before any of those other characteristics — of all religious beliefs.”
According to ThinkProgress’ Jack Jenkins, Newdow could claim that atheism is a religion and that atheists should be exempt from seeing “In God We Trust.” He could also use people whose religious beliefs “are implicitly spurned by the phrase,” such as a Jewish man whose religion objects to the word “God” written out.
Jenkins thinks that this “just might work.”