E pluribus unum
Translation: Out of many, one
This was the traditional motto of the United States until President Eisenhower changed it in 1956 to:
In God We Trust
Since 1957 the message, "In God We Trust" has become permanent on all U.S. paper currency (it had been featured on some coins since 1864). Seen here on the Battalion Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regimental Flag, on display in the Rotunda at the Minnesota Capitol, the original latin phrase, E pluribus unum, was adopted by Congress in 1782.
The original motto suggests that out of the melting pot of many cultures and individuals we gain strength, wisdom, and prosperity as one nation. "In God We Trust" suggests a government that favors a specific god and religion, and further implies it feels that god will favor this nation above all others.
It ignores the fact that 25% of this country does not believe in any god at all.
How long will it be before this religious motto and edorsement is removed from our currency? The motto has been challenged by advocates of separation of church and state over the years. So far, with no success.
For the immediate future it seems our currency will continue to deliver this outdated and inaccurate message from the cold war era.
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Photo credit and commentary: Jason Alvey