America’s national motto, “In God We Trust” was formally established in 1956 by an act of congress and signed by President Eisenhower. The motto started appearing on our paper money in 1957. However the movement to acknowledge God on our currency began as early as 1861, largely because of the increased religious sentiment existing during the Civil War. Then House Speaker Schuyler Colfax noted: “The last act of Congress ever signed by President Lincoln was one requiring that the motto … ‘In God we Trust’ should hereafter be inscribed upon all our national coin.” During the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star Spangled Banner” which congress adopted as the national anthem on March 3, 1931. The fourth verse states:
O thus be it ever when free men shall stand,
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation;
Blest with victory and peace, may the Heaven-rescued land,
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just;
And this be our motto ‘In God Is Our Trust’!
And the Star Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave.
Over the land of the free and the home of the brave!
American history has demonstrated repeatedly that the nation was founded on Christian principles as the founding fathers acknowledged in their writings, documents, and historical speeches. We see Bible verses and God’s acknowledgment on many of the historical buildings in Washington D.C. Of course the national motto of “In God We Trust” has survived repeated challenges by atheists down through the years.
I am glad for the motto, but I wonder how true it really is? Does our national leaders really trust in Almighty God to guide their decisions? Do we as American citizens acknowledge our dependence on God to provide, protect, and prosper us? When we fail Him do we confess our sins and repent of trying to live without Him. I don’t think America’s greatness ever rested on any kind of motto engraved in stone or printed on our currency. And we will only be great again when we genuinely trust in God as our Savior, as our Sovereign, and as our Lord.
Pastor Stultz has been writing this weekly devotional for many years. In 2009, he published a compilation of devotionals in book form, also called Moments of Meditation