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House To Vote On Reaffirmation Of 'In God We Trust' Motto

<p>The words "In God We Trust" are seen on U.S. currency.</p>
Alex Wong
Getty Images

The words "In God We Trust" are seen on U.S. currency.

The United States House of Representatives is expected to vote on a reaffirmation of "In God We Trust" as the country's official motto, today. The bill would also encourage public buildings to include the motto in their architecture.

Now this may come as a surprise, because, as Politico puts it, nobody has actually challenged the motto. But here's how Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), who sponsored the bill, described the reason for the motion in a statement:

"In 2006, on the 50th anniversary of its adoption, the Senate reaffirmed 'In God We Trust' as the official national motto of the United States. Tomorrow, the House of Representatives will have the same opportunity to reaffirm our national motto and directly confront a disturbing trend of inaccuracies and omissions, misunderstandings of church and state, rogue court challenges, and efforts to remove God from the public domain by unelected bureaucrats. As our nation faces challenging times, it is appropriate for Members of Congress and our nation—like our predecessors—to firmly declare our trust in God, believing that it will sustain us for generations to come," said Forbes.

Forbes goes on to cite several examples of this "disturbing trend," including that President Obama "proclaimed 'E Pluribus Unum' as our national motto" last November and the controversy over whether to include the motto in the Capitol Visitor's Center.

Felicia Sonmez at The Washington Post writes that the big picture here is that social issues are making a comeback on the Hill.

"The 'In God We Trust' resolution marks the second time this month that the House will have voted on a measure related to social issues," writes Sonmez. "Two weeks ago, the chamber approved the 'Protect Life Act,' a measure that would prohibit federal funds from going toward health care plans that cover abortion services."

Some Democrats have protested the measure on those terms. CBS News reports:

In a March House Judiciary Committee report, five Democrats wrote that the bill was a distraction from real problems.

"Instead of working to help American families keep a roof over their heads and food on their tables, we are debating whether or not to affirm and proliferate a motto that was adopted in 1956 and that is not imperiled in any respect," the report said.

The Democrats also argued the bill "creates unnecessary and excessive government entanglement with religion."

Similarly, Democrats complained Republicans were unjustifiably focused on social issues last month when the House voted to keep taxpayer money from funding abortions. "Everybody in America has the creation of jobs as their top priority and what are we doing, but wasting time," House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said at the time.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.