Is ‘In God We Trust’ still needed in America today?

By Chuck Norris

In celebrating the Fourth of July this week, my wife, Gena, and I join hundreds of millions of Americans in giving thanks to God for America’s independence, liberty and those who founded our new republic.

With all the issues facing our country today, it’s still the best on the planet, and we have America’s founders and God to thank.

As former president Ronald Reagan explained in his 1984 Dallas Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast:

Those who created our country – the Founding Fathers and Mothers – understood that there is a divine order which transcends the human order. They saw the state, in fact, as a form of moral order and felt that the bedrock of moral order is religion.

The Mayflower Compact began with the words, “In the name of God, Amen.” The Declaration of Independence appeals to “`Nature’s God”‘ and the “Creator'” and “the Supreme Judge of the world.” Congress was given a chaplain, and the oaths of office are oaths before God.

James Madison in the Federalist Papers admitted that in the creation of our republic he perceived the hand of the Almighty. John Jay, the first chief justice of the Supreme Court, warned that we must never forget the God from whom our blessings flowed.

America’s founders believed that God and religion (specifically Christianity) would serve as the basis for morality and decency. They warned us specifically that abandoning that foundation for our ethics would leave society in civil unrest – just as we see today in run-amok classrooms, homes, communities and cities across the nation.

Without God, there are no moral absolutes and ultimate basis for societal civility, as George Washington explained in his presidential farewell address. He posited, how else is a nation to maintain its civility and morality without God and religion?

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As I wrote in my New York Times bestseller, “Black Belt Patriotism,” government isn’t the answer. And neither is education, at least without religion. As Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, explained, “Without religion, I believe that learning does real mischief to the morals and principles of mankind.”

Our founders had a better answer than government or even education for a basis of morality and civility. God is the answer. God is the moral compass of America. Or He should be, if we ever want to restore morality in our homes and civility to our land. Our founders believed morals flowed from one’s accountability to God, and that, without God, moral anarchy would result.

While many atheists today like to think that science has disproven the idea of a Creator, the fact is that it hasn’t. Scientists can’t rule out God, and certainly most people don’t believe that. A 2022 Gallup Poll show that roughly 81% of Americans still believe in a Creator.

In fact, contrary to popular belief, God-believing scientists are everywhere, as a survey by the American Association for the Advancement of Science showed. Indeed, in 2019, over 1,000 scientists from around the world signed a statement publicly expressing their skepticism about the contemporary theory of Darwinian evolution, and the list continues to grow!

However, what Americans mean by God or a Creator has changed over the years. America used to be a very religious country. We still are, compared to other countries in the Western world. But our religious beliefs are in flux and in a constant state of decline.

Though a majority continue to believe in God, Americans are less likely today than at any time to affiliate with any religion, including Christianity.

A March 2024 Gallup Poll explained, “The decline in formal church membership has largely been driven by younger generations of Americans. Slightly more than one-third of U.S. young adults have no religious affiliation. Further, many young adults who do identify with a religion do not belong to a church. But even older adults who have a religious preference are less likely to belong to a church today than in the past.”

This is a far different picture from early America and even when I was growing up, where Christianity and our republic were intricately intertwined. Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in his landmark work “Democracy in America” (1834) that: “I do not know whether all Americans have a sincere faith in their [Christian] religion; for who can read the human heart? But I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions. This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or to a party, but it belongs to the whole nation and to every rank of society.”

In a pamphlet for Europeans who were emigrating to America, Benjamin Franklin wrote in 1754 about America: “Atheism is unknown there; Infidelity rare and secret; so that persons may live to a great age in that country without having their piety shocked by meeting with either an Atheist or an Infidel.”

Historian David Barton at Wallbuilders.com taught me: Many today may not realize that there was an active clergyman (Presbyterian minister John Witherspoon) among the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Two others had previously been ministers. Others were sons of clergy or had studied theology. Of the 39 signers of the Constitution, 37 were professed Protestant Christians (though at least one of those, Benjamin Franklin, was probably a deist), and two, Daniel Carroll and Thomas Fitzsimons, were Roman Catholics. They were a diverse group of men in some respects, but they were united by their belief in a Creator God.

As professor David Holmes from the College of William and Mary wrote in his landmark book, “The Faith of the Founding Fathers,” “The founding fathers of the United States were remarkable, even noble men. Like most people, they understood their religion in the terms of their background and of their day. Those trained in parsons’ academies had studied the Bible more thoroughly than all but a small percentage of Christians today. In the spirits of their times, they appeared less devout than they were – which seems a reversal from modern politics.”

It is no surprise that John Witherspoon, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and president of the College of New Jersey (1768–94; now Princeton University), said, “He is the best friend to American liberty, who is most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion, and who set himself with the greatest firmness to bear down on profanity and immorality of every kind. Whoever is an avowed enemy of God, I scruple not to call him an enemy to his country.”

Our founders would be astounded that the Ten Commandments have been removed from public buildings. They would be dumbfounded that acknowledging the Creator God that they acknowledged is regarded as impermissible at school commencement exercises. They would be mortified that a coach praying with his student-athletes at taxpayer-supported schools could be prosecuted for allegedly violating the Constitution that guarantees that Congress shall make no law abridging the free expression of religion. They would be filled with dread at our too easy acceptance of such government intrusion – call it judicial tyranny – on our natural (God-given) rights and liberties.

Up to the 1950s when I was growing up, the majority of Americans were still God-fearing, church-attending patriots.

Remember, it was in 1956-7 that “In God We Trust” became the national motto and appeared on U.S. paper currency to further distinguish the U.S. from the officially atheistic-communist USSR. And the very first time the motto appeared on U.S. currency was at the end of the Civil War. By an act of Congress on April 22, 1864, a two-cent coin was developed by the U.S. mint with the words “In God We Trust.”

As Wikipedia outlines, it is no surprise that “‘In God We Trust’ was adopted as the United States’ motto in 1956 as a replacement of or alternative to the unofficial motto of ‘E pluribus unum,‘ which was adopted when the Great Seal of the United States was created and adopted in 1782. … According to a joint poll by USA Today, CNN, and Gallup, 90% of Americans support the inscription ‘In God We Trust’ on U.S. coins, and a 2019 student poll by College Pulse showed that 53% of students supported its inclusion in currency.”

And let’s not forget that, in December 1962, “In God We Trust” was also carved into the marble over the center of the chamber (rostrum) of the House of Representatives and chair of the speaker of the House. (Can you imagine Congress allowing that inscription over its chamber today? It would never happen!)

Our founders trusted in God, but should we? Does “In God We Trust” still apply? Is “In God We Trust” still needed in America today? Absolutely! More today than ever before!

Friends, I am a patriot and an optimist at heart. I, as with many of you, believe that we can become a great nation again, known more for who we are than what we possess. But that’s not going to happen by traveling down the same road we’ve been on or merely restoring our economy or defense to a No. 1 status in the world.

If America has lost its moral compass, the answer is to return to the old path, the road followed by our founders who put God first, trusting in Him – not big government – to be our salvation.

That is why the most important action you and I can take is to do that in our own lives: to put God first and raise up a new generation of decent, law-abiding, people-loving and God-fearing citizens. That may sound overly simplistic or preachy to some, but I really don’t mean it that way. Neither did our founders. It was just a fact, and it still is.

As Ronald Reagan eloquently concluded at that 1984 Dallas Prayer Breakfast, “Without God, there is no virtue, because there’s no prompting of the conscience. Without God, we’re mired in the material, that flat world that tells us only what the senses perceive. Without God, there is a coarsening of the society. And without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure. If we ever forget that we’re one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”

In God we STILL must trust!

Happy Birthday, America! God has certainly shed His Grace on Thee!

(If anyone has doubts, struggles or wants to learn more about God, religion or the Bible, I encourage you to download this FREE E-copy of the book, “God Questions: Exploring Life’s Greatest Questions About God,” which tackles tough questions about God and gives evidence to support them. I also highly encourage reading my book, “Black Belt Patriotism: How to Reawaken America,” where you will find loads more of information about what our founders actually thought, believed, and wanted for our country. I also encourage a fantastic book by former Texas state representative and insightful host of WallBuilders Live daily national radio show, Rick Green, “Legends of Liberty: Timeless Stories of Courageous Champions.” One more awesome resource is David Barton’s, “The Founders’ Bible,” the sacred text of all sacred texts with a plethora of historical notes and commentary from America’s founders.)

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