‘ In God We Trust’— National Motto marks milestone anniversary
‘Pressed Down and Measured’ A Times Staff Feature By John Rech
Saturday marks the 60th anniversary of “In God We Trust” becoming the official National Motto of the United States. President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved an act of the 84th Congress on July 30, 1956 making it official, but the phrase had been the national focus all along.
Dr. Kenyn Cureton with the Family Research Council circulated his research to many pastors this week with the hope that a review of our patriotic past would shine light on the Trustworthy Triune God from pulpits this weekend. So I draw from his well documented notes to march through history to see the development of our national motto and its relevance to contemporary American life.
At issue this milestone anniversary is the motto itself. A historical view showed the motto was pulled from the a biblical ideal and from the beginning formed a foundation belief in America. But recent efforts from the political correctness movement have seen it as a stain to be scrubbed and scoured from our corporate memories.
As the Capital Visitors Center was unveiled a photo of the house of Representatives Speaker’s Rostrum with the motto cropped out. The center also falsely cited “E Pluribus Unum” as the national motto.
In his remarks, President Barack Obama at Indonesia University erred the same way on November 10, 2010 citing “E Pluribus Unum” as our motto according to the White House.
It means out of the many, one. It surely is on most U.S. Currency and the Great Seal of the United Sates. But saying the Latin phrase, making an executive fiat, and repeating it in P.C. circles will not suffice in supplanting American History and Act of Congress.
Let’s rightly remember, much is at stake. History shows that national revival comes after rightly remembering God in the life of the people, His people’s repentance leads to their renewal and revival follows. In this summertime trial-of-violent- events in our country it is time to revisit this process and repent of our national apathy. Will this be the summer season the sacredness of human life is buried and forgotten or will it be a season of revival in America?
Activists grope for something new that can be done. The first thing we must do is remember. We need to remember our motto and we must re-embrace it and personally act with resolve like our fore bearers did in times of trial. Let’s begin with Scripture.
Psalm 16:1 petitions the Almighty with the words, “Preserve me, O God, for in you I put my trust.” May this petition be now prayerfully repeated and applied in our country!
“In God We Trust,” repeats in the wisdom of Scripture (Psalm 4:5; 16:1; 20; 22;45; 91:2; Prov.. 3:5-6). As many preachers proclaim, if it is in the Good Book once, it is important to your life in Christ. If it is there twice, you really must pay attention to it. If something is in the Bible repeatedly you really need to lay hold of it. The wisdom of relying on the trustworthy Lord God is rooted in Scripture, dawned here in colonial times and shines throughout our national history.
From the Virginia Charter for the first permanent English settlement in James town in 1607, to the Mayflower Compact of the Plymouth Pilgrims in 1620, all these documents placed a trust filled reliance on the provision of God. The first Constitution in the new world was based on a sermon to the Massachusetts Body of Liberties in 1641. In every charter, covenant and constitution there was an acknowledgment by the colonists of their dependence on God. The first time the actual words “In God we Trust” were officially used was on a regimental banner for Ben Franklin’s volunteer Pennsylvania militia of 1747.
Trusting God continued during the War for Independence. The Declaration of Independence spoke of our dependence on God. The text echoes this sentiment four times,
• “The laws of Nature and of Nature’s God…”
• “All men are created Equal, they are endowed by their Creator with certain Unalienable Rights…”
• “Appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions…”
• “With a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence…”
The Second Continental Congress and their successors made 15 proclamations calling for prayer and thanksgiving or prayer and fasting during the eight year war. Can you see the painting or the stained glass art in your minds eye of George Washington on one knee in prayer?
In his general orders to the Continental Army, Washington wrote, “Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the Cause, and the aid of the Supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble Actions…”
During America’s second war for independence, the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key wrote the poem “Defense of Fort McHenry” which became our National Anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner.” You probably can sing the first verse because it is sung before every professional sporting event in the country. But few remember the last verse which ends, ” And this be our motto, “ In God we trust!”, And the Star Spangled banner in triumph shall wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!’
Let’s remember the actual motto “In God We Trust” has been a part of American life for over 150 years. At the height of the Civil War in 1863 Treasury Department Director James Pollock wrote, “The Motto suggested, ‘God our Trust’ is taken from our national hymn, the Star-spangled Banner.’… Let us reverently acknowledge his sovereignty, and let our coinage declare our trust in God.”
The last act signed by Abraham Lincoln put the motto on American coins and currency. The trustworthiness of God and the need of our country on His providence has been echoed by most presidents ever since.
Franklin Roosevelt said in his Thanksgiving Proclamation “from our earliest recorded history, Americans have thanked God for their blessings… ‘In God We Trust.’” His successor Harry Trumannn stated October 30, 1949: “When the U.S. was established the motto was ‘In God We Trust.’ This is still our motto and we still place our firm trust in God.”
The inscription with the national motto was unveiled in 1950 over the south entrance to the Senate Chamber and above the Speaker’s Rostrum in the House of Representatives. In 1954 Eisenhower announced the first U.S. postage stamp with the inscription. A letter cost eight cents then, I certain some of you remember.
“I think each of us, hereafter, fastening such a stamp on a letter, cannot fail to feel something of the inspiration that we do whenever we look at the Statue of Liberty, or read “In God We Trust,” said Eisenhower.
President John F. Kennedy declared on February 9, 1961, “The guiding principle of this nation has been, is ever shall be “In God we trust.’” President Ronald Reagan believed that the greatness of America was reflected the motto, “Our nations motto– “In God We Trust”- was not chosen lightly. It reflects a basic recognition that there is a divine authority in the universe to which this nation owes homage.”
It is time for Americans to restate their dependence on God.
President Harry Trumann declared,” Each one of us can do his part by a renewed devotion… If there is and danger to the religious life of our Nation, it lies in our taking our religious heritage too much for granted… Unless men live by their faith, and practice that faith in their daily lives, religion cannot be a living force in the world today… Just as active faith sustained the pioneers in the wilderness, so today an active faith will sustain and guide us as we work for just peace, freedom for all, and a world where human life is held sacred.”
May we pass this standard to our children and grandchildren, “In God We Trust.” We need to put this motto into practice as individual, families, communities and as a nation–not in how we think or feel, but by what do and how we personally serve one another. We must serve because we are all created equal, bearing the image of God. It is time to stop out-sourcing your personal responsibility to our children for education, character development, coaching and faith. Parents must lead their family to together. Citizens must volunteer in their community. It is time to trust God again and live and work and train up our children in the way they should go.
Let’s make this practical. We don’t need a new program. We need to get with God’s program.
To bring revival to the worldly church– in God We trust!
To send Great Awakening and spread the gospel– In God We trust!
To produce moral renewal in our culture and raise up godly servants–In God We Trust!
To restore dignity by ending human trafficking and the murder of our innocent unborn– In God We Trust!
To revive our marriages and heal our broken families– In God we Trust!
To defend our freedom to believe and live according to those beleifs–In God We Trust!
To raise godly kids and grandkids who will take up the standard of faith, family and freedom–In God We Trust!
To solve the racial crisis and bring unity to America- In God We Trust!
To protect those who protect us in the military and law enforcement– In God We Trust!
Church remember. Church repent. “For the time is come for judgment to begin with the household of God. And if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who disobey the gospel of God?” ~ 1 Peter 4:17.
Christian bretheren, remember also the fruitfilled promise in the summary statement on revival in 2 Chronicles 7:14 and let it begin with you.