1957 – First appearance of “In God We Trust” on U.S. paper currency. “In God We Trust” was first added to U.S. coins during the beginning of the Civil War, when religious sentiment was on an upswing and concerned Americans wanted the world to know what their country stood for. Many wrote to Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase on the matter, and he agreed with their arguments. Congress passed his act requesting the addition of “In God We Trust,” adapted from a lesser-known verse of Francis Scott Key’s “Star-Spangled Banner,” and the first two-cent coin with the phrase was minted in 1864.
The motto appeared on paper currency beginning in 1957, and in the subsequent decades, numerous legal actions have sought to remove it from currency and strike “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. TIME magazine suggested in a 1991 story, that the banality of the phrases may not be worth the fight as a symbol of separating church from state. “Today even ardent separationists seem to agree with retired Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, who wrote in 1983 that slogans such as ‘In God We Trust’ have ‘lost any true religious significance.'” I might have believed this at one time. Now…not so much.