Ashley F. Miller has written a great article detailing "Why 'In God We Trust' Is a Problem." I couldn't have made a better argument than she already has even if I wanted to, so I encourage you to read her post if you haven't done so already.
The point I want to make, as a pastor in a mainline denomination and as a sometime follower of Jesus, is different. I simply contend that the motto "In God We Trust" is a lie, and a hypocritical one at that (Are there non-hypocritical lies?).
In a nation that spent $700 billion for defense in 2010, which is one-third of total milatary spending in the world, the idea that we trust in anything other than "might makes right" is ludicrous. We outspend our nearest competitor (China) in this area by 100%. Further, we spend more on defense than the next nine nations combined. It is clear to me that we trust our military more than any divine being.
Further, the idea that we should put this "motto" on our currency is ironic at best. Two passages of scripture come to mind. The first is from Mark 12:14-17:
And they came and said to Jesus, "Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone's opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?" But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, "Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it." And they brought one. And he said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" They said to him, "Caesar's." Jesus said to them, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." And they marveled at him.
The second is from Matthew 6:24:
"No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money."
Putting God's name on our money does not make it holy, nor does it demonstrate our allegience to God. It is, however, a pietistic exercise that only illustrates our hipocrisy.
We, and I do include myself here, spend much of our energy and lives in the pursuit of money. Yes, we need it to live, and yes, we can also use it help others. But, if we are honest, the money we earn is overwhelmingly used to make our own lives more comfortable. While the motto "In God We Trust" may give many a warm, fuzzy, and vaguely religious feeling, it is, in reality, mere window dressing to justify our own greed.
And so I say again, the motto "In God We Trust" is a lie. It does not reflect the reality of our national life. It is also highly hypocritical for us to make this claim when our national priorities are so antithetical to the sentiment expressed by it. Just saying something over and over again and printing it on billions of coins and bills, does not make it true. It never has and never will.