Nov 02 2011

Break Out the Sharpies — Let’s Unofficially Remove the Official National Motto from our Money

OK, my fellow heathens and everybody else who gives a shit about the separation of church and state. As expected, Congressman Randy Forbes’s resolution to shove “In God We Trust” in everybody’s faces passed in the House yesterday. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had it with this crap, and it’s time to take a stand!

As the full title of Forbes’s resolution says, this isn’t just about needlessly reaffirming a motto that’s already the motto, it’s about getting this motto displayed in even more places than it already is. The full title is: “Reaffirming ‘In God We Trust’ as the official motto of the United States and supporting and encouraging the public display of the national motto in all public buildings, public schools, and other government institutions.”

Forbes wants more people to see the motto? Well, I want less people to see the motto — and to know that there are a lot of other Americans who object to it. And, where’s the place most people see it? On our money, of course.

Have you ever been in an argument with a Christian nationalist where their “proof” that we’re a Christian nation is “In God We Trust” is our national motto? Have you been called a hypocrite for having no problem spending money with this motto on it?

My answer is that I DON’T spend money with the motto on it. I cross out the motto with a Sharpie on every dollar that passes through my hands. I’ve been doing this for years, and have heard from quite a few other people who are doing the same thing. But we need EVERYBODY to do it!

How many millions of bills could we mark if every single atheist and other person who objects to the motto all started crossing out the motto?

Picture the disgust on the faces of every fundie who gets one of these bills with the motto crossed out and has to spend it!

And, lest anyone worry that it is illegal to deface money in this manner, it isn’t. The law says that to be illegal the intent of marking a bill has to be to “render the note unfit to be reissued.” This, of course, would absolutely not be our intent. The whole point is for other people who get these bills to see them, so we would obviously want them to stay in circulation as long as possible. I think it would be pretty hard for someone to argue that our intent is to render them unfit to reissue. That would completely defeat the purpose of crossing the motto out.

So, I’m now asking everyone to get a Sharpie and start crossing out “In God We Trust” on every bill that they can! I also think it would be cool for us to write our zip codes on these bills so we can watch them spread across the country.



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  1. 1


    The hundred dollar bill was fun.

  2. 2

    I did! I did! I only had $65 on me, but none if it has a legible theocratic slogan.

  3. 3
    Ellen Lundgren

    $15 from my wallet, now godless. :) Sharpie now has permanent residence in my purse.

  4. 4

    $18.00 only, but I don’t usually use cash. I like the zip code idea. I’m very disappointed in my congressman’s vote. I’m not surprised, mind you, but I am disappointed. In the matter of the motto on money, I agree with Teddy.

  5. 5

    I have been doing this since I saw a video where Penn Jillette talked about how he does it.

  6. 6
    Ophelia Benson

    I feel like knocking over a few cash registers so that I can do more. I’d let them keep the money…

  7. 7

    Works on coins, too.

  8. 8
    Irreverend Bastard

    I also think it would be cool for us to write our zip codes on these bills so we can watch them spread across the country.

    You can track the little buggers on the net:

  9. 9

    I will start doing this, but I don’t even recall the last time my wallet had paper money in it. Credit/Debit cards are the way of the future and none of mine say anything about god on them.

  10. 10

    I don;t use cash much either, but this will now be SOP…

  11. 11

    I just use a credit/debit card – doesn’t say anything on that.

  12. 12
    Eric R

    $7 – like others I dont often haul actual cash money around with me.

    Correct me if I’m wrong but arent these simple resolutions from the house or senate, non-binding and unenforceable? They are little more than statements of opinion and have no legal standing.

    In other words, they can pass resolutions supporting plastering “in god we trust”all over everything, every day from now till the end of time and it wont alter the legality of such plastering. So if some school puts it up on a wall and tries to use this as a defense they will get laughed out of court just as fast as they would had it never been “resolved”.

    Of course it would be nice if congress actually spent time discussing important business instead of reaffirming something that already exists.

  13. 13

    I’m exhausted! That was a lot of coins and one seriously overheated Dremel.

  14. 14
    Chris Rodda

    Hey Eric … the problem is that these little statements of opinion that have no legal standing are what are used as arguments in the next bigger thing. So, while each one individually might not seem like it’s not that big a deal, it is another piece of ammo in the theocratic stockpile.

  15. 15

    Fantastic! Crossed out “God” wrote “science”

  16. 16

    I’ll occasionally black out “god” with a ballpoint, and write in “ATHEISM” above it.

  17. 17

    I’ve been crossing it out on all my bills for years now. My idea that I wanted to promote but have always been too lazy to do so is this:

    ‘The We Project’ – cross out all the words in the National Motto except ‘We.’ Emphasize that the Motto is un-Constitutional and divisive, making 1/4 or so of Americans ‘them’ instead of ‘we.’ Marking out everything except ‘we’ is the unifying thing to do.

  18. 18
    Eric R

    Chris…To be sure, it would be nice to deny them these little bits of ammo. Fortunately in this case its not new ammo, its the same old ammo they had, they just pulled it out of their ammo belt and spit-shined it.

    Its a useless waste of time and it drives me nuts that our government spends its time on this crap, I’m just pleased that in the real world they are shooting blanks.

  19. 19

    I work as a delivery driver and did this to every bill that went through my hands this weekend. Well over 900 dollars!

  20. 20

    I’ve been doing this since 1963… but not really consistently… and I don’t use cash that much anymore, but I will continue for the cause!

  21. 21

    Just did the $47 in my wallet, but I didn’t go all the way. I only blacked out “God” on each bill, so they read “In blank we trust.” I’m in a conservative part of Wisconsin and don’t want to get dirty looks when I pass the bills. But upon close inspection of the bills God is noticeably absent (much like in reality, haha).

    I had an amusing thought about believers confronted with such a bill. They might think it’s the work of Satan, or God is testing them, or some other such nonsense. I’ve run into a lot of theists that have a hard time accepting atheists truly mean they don’t believe in gods instead of being “mad at God” or whatever. I hope running across altered bills might remind them atheists really do exist, but I fear the most irrational of the bunch aren’t going to react, umm, rationally. Still, it was fun to do!

  22. 22

    How about crossing out “God” and writing in “Reason” instead? I think that’s what I’m gonna start doing.

    @Booger: The credit card may not openly say anything about God on it, but that doesn’t mean that the fat cats sitting at the top of that financial food chain aren’t donating thousands to religious causes of one sort or another. At least with cash, we can cross out the part that offends us…

  23. 23

    I change the “IN” to “ON”. That way it will work in vending machines. And it shoves a message back in their faces.

  24. 24

    I’ve been doing this for a long number of years as well. I usually add in ‘E Pluribus Unum’ in red ink above it, but when I’m in a hurry, I just sharpie out the IGWT.

  25. 25
    Who Knows?

    Great idea. Every bill that crosses my path will have the offending phrase crossed out.

  26. 26

    I’ve been crossing the ‘motto’ out on my cash for years too. Just crossing out the god bit and writing in science over it is a good idea. Going to start doing that from now on.

  27. 27

    I’ve been doing this for years, but only on bills larger than $5. Ones and fives have life spans of just a few months, but every larger bill that will be out there for a while gets individual Xs etched over each letter of the motto. I haven’t received one back yet, but if everyone here is also doing it, I’m sure I’ll see one soon. I’ll get all giddy when the ATM spits out at me a mottoless bill.

  28. 28

    Alas, I don’t see too many US bills up here in Canada (coins are a different story), but when I do they usually return home a little less “godly.” =)

  29. 29
    Anne C. Hanna

    I liked this idea at first, but thinking about it a little I do have one concern — might this possibly prevent the bills from working correctly in automated vending machines and the like? I don’t really know how those machines recognize bills, but I thought it was based at least somewhat on visual scanning.

  30. 30

    Been doing this for a while too. Although I never thought of the zip code thing! Look for 03304. :)

  31. 31

    Hmm. Just realized, this weekend, that I have an engraving tool.

    Now none of my quarters are godly, and I’ve got a decent start on some nickels, dimes, and pennies. It’s very subtle; looks very much like normal wear, until you take a closer look.

  32. 32
    Chris Rodda

    LOL, Cuttlefish @13! Now THAT’S dedication to the cause!!!

  33. 33

    I cross out the motto on every bill i get, and you should have heard the teller at the credit union trying to convince me that what i had done was illegal when i went to deposit them into my account.

  34. 34
    JesseW, the Juggling Janitor

    $93 in bills de-god-ified. Will do more.

  35. 35
    JesseW, the Juggling Janitor

    Have now been de-godding all my money for 2 weeks — gotten no reactions when using it, so far. I’m in Southern California, though, so that may have something to do with it.

  36. 36
    JesseW, the Juggling Janitor

    Oh, and I’ve been using them in numerous different automated vending machines, with absolutely no trouble.

  37. 37
    JesseW, the Juggling Janitor

    And have now been doing it for about 3 months, marking up over $1000 in cash — with no comment or trouble from anyone I’ve given one to. This is in a pretty liberal area of California, but it’s also very very easy to do this marking, and does serve as a useful way of reminding people of the existence of active atheists, which is useful.

    (Chris, I hope you don’t mind me using this year old post of yours as a sort of journal of my efforts in this area…)

  38. 38
    hephestes .

    I made a self-inking stamper that says “e pluribus unum.” It took some experimentation to get right, but it looks great over the top of IGWT.


    If you make a stamper for yourself, stick with big bold black block letters, and squeeze the leading of the letters so there’s less space between so less of the text under shows up.

  39. 39
    Calvin Von Gurnov

    I know I am Christian but I believe this was not meant to be a single religious standing nation but free for all to worship the way they choose to. My suggestion is leave in God we trust but also write atheist I am this will be fair to both sides

    Just a thought

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