So today at the store, I got back 60 cents in change. All well and good, but when I grabbed the quarters to put them in the pile for de-godding, I noticed that one of them looked a little different. “In [smudge] We Trust”, it read, unless my eyes deceived me.


Yes! Now, I had never used any quarters at that store, so this must have come from a parking meter, or from the little cafe near my office, or from the UNICEF box at Halloween. Not from a busker–they always got dollar coins, and always more than one (even the lousy ones got 2 bucks minimum–I kept telling myself, it’s not my money to spend, it’s our money to put in circulation).

This coin does look like one of mine, but of course there is another, even better possibility–that there are more of us out there, de-godding coins that will be around for decades.


  1. Rhonda says

    It may be a tiny thing now, but you’ve inspired me to start doing this, too. It’s bothered me forever but since I handle currency less and less frequently, I’d sort of put it out of my mind. Well, no more. I’m going through my wallet and I’m going to secularize all my cash/coins. If enough of us do it, maybe the federal government will get the message. (It’s good to dream, right?)

  2. hotshoe, now with more boltcutters says

    I’m probably not organized enough to ever “de-god” coins. Last year I started replacing “god” with “reason” in ink on all my paper money.

    “In reason we trust” sounds okay to me.

    I fix every bill I receive at the bank and in change at stores. Unless there’s a busy line, I write at the counter before I put them in my pocket. I don’t do it if there’s a line because I don’t want to make people mad at waiting for my little bit of political action.

    I’ve never had anyone make a comment or ask a question about what I’m doing with my pen and my money. I haven’t gotten a marked bill back in change either. Well, I can always hope that the bills are raising consciousness somewhere …

  3. otrame says

    I have to transfer money from one bank account to another every month and I do it in cash. So there are always a bunch of secular bills in San Antonio. I’ve been waiting to get one that I didn’t mark myself. It will feel great when I do.

  4. Cuttlefish says

    keresthanatos–from your link:

    Defacement of currency is a violation of Title 18, Section 333 of the United States Code. Under this provision, currency defacement is generally defined as follows: Whoever mutilates, cuts, disfigures, perforates, unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, Federal Reserve Bank, or Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such item(s) unfit to be reissued, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

    Clearly, my disfiguring is absolutely not intended to render these coins unfit to be reissued. The whole point is to get these into circulation!

    Besides, if I get arrested, the first thing the judge will hear about are these “cross pennies” , and a comparison of my degodding and their punching crosses out of coins (with impunity, publicly and proudly), along with the wording of the law, and I’m so clearly legal it’s not even a question.

    And I very much disagree that I am giving ammo to my opposition. I only de-god a batch when I read or hear someone (turns out usually to be a politician) making the stupid argument that atheists shouldn’t use money because it has god on it. If that’s the argument they are using, this is the right thing to do. (Plus, every time they make that argument, it puts the lie to the concept of “ceremonial deism”–if the god is trivial enough to be constitutional on our money, it ought to be trivial enough not to use in that argument. If the god on our money is the same god a particular politician worships, it’s an establishment clause violation. I’m just making my money legal tender again.)

  5. says

    @keresthanatos #4 – According to your own link, it is criminal only if the intent is to increase numismatic value, to commit fraud or to render the item unfit for circulation. De-godding currency does not legally fall into any of these categories.

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