Positive Atheism Forum
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'IN GOD WE TRUST'
-- On Our Money!?

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(date, alas, forgotten)

Hi Cliff, 

I've added your page to my list of links. I think your webpage is really good. I read your page about the money stamps and I agree. I ordered a $20 note a few weeks ago and even though I am not in the U.S. I found the motto quite ignorant, especially for a government professing that their country is such a diverse mix of people. Just another indication of church and state being too integrated. Most governments still seem to be in the middle ages in this respect.

Anyway, enough ranting.

Great page.

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Here's an old pitch for the "ATHEIST MONEY" stamps.
    
Positive Atheism does not endorse United States Atheists or Center for Rational Thought: this piece is posted intact simply for its historical value.
     NOTE: We have no idea whether USA (aka CRT) still sells money stamps. If you want one, we suggest that you write them first and see.

 

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  You look at the back of any U.S. currency and there it is:

  
"IN GOD WE TRUST"

Right away, you wonder:

Why do they do that?

Before Senator Joseph McCarthy's hysterical anti-Communist era, our currency used to say:

 
"E PLURIBUS UNUM"

-- or "Of many, one." America is a melting pot, isn't it? They've got to realize that a lot of American citizens de facto don't trust anyone who goes by the name "God." And this advertisement cannot produce any significant results for the churchs' zealous missionary campaigns. The churches ought to do their own advertising; it must be insulting to them to think that "God" needs help from our government. Besides, the churches don't pay taxes toward supporting our government.

Next, no one wants to talk about which god is the Treasury Department talking about. (Notice that goddesses are not mentioned. One thing's for sure, it's a boy god.) So which particular male deity do they think we all trust? Maybe they think we trust Allah or Yahveh or Vishnu (I don't!). Perhaps they are thinking of an obscure god like Quetzalcotl or Osiris or Juju. I don't know; it doesn't say. It just says "GOD" -- whatever that means!

Finally, who the hell is this we bunch. It certainly doesn't include me, so why is this graffiti on the money I spend? Why do I have to spread this patently erroneous message in order to do business? Hey! If the U.S. did away with currency altogether and started requiring that an ultraviolet bar code be tattooed on people's hands or foreheads, I know of a whole bunch of people who would become viciously and vocally livid! We'd never hear the end of it from them! But no one listens when four simple and admittedly useless words raise questions about we Atheists' place as citizens of the United States of America.

Now, while I can't do much about the first two questions, I have a ready answer for the last one. It's lots of fun to use a rubber stamp (available from CRT) to amend the advertisement. The solid bar blots out the filthy language and makes my money read as follows:

 -- or --  -- or -- 

Stamps are available for the convenient price of $10 from:

 

Center for Rational Thought
6514 SE Foster Road
Portland, Oregon 97206
Postpaid: allow four to six weeks for delivery
Check or Money Order only -- no credit cards

 

Another simple thing I do when I don't have my stamp handy is to take a pen and scratch out the offending words. Usually I just write "Atheist Money" or "Trust Yourself!" on it. Sometimes I'll insert a plug for the merchant I'm doing business with, or I'll plug the product I'm buying. When I have lots of time, such as when I'm sitting in a restaurant waiting for the check to arrive, I'll think of a longer slogan to make my point. It's fun to be creative, and I've found that it makes a great conversation starter for the folks behind me in line at the grocery store. Several clerks now wink and hand me a pen before I even ask.

I have been doing this for many years and I have never had a store clerk or bank teller reject my ATHEIST MONEY. Usually, I just borrow a pen from them to do it right in front of them. If lots of people did this, there would be three immediate effects.

    1) It would tell anyone who sees the corrected money that an Atheist has exercized our nation's First Amendment right of free speech.

    2) The money would no longer work in a coin changer and would have to be sent back to the Federal Reserve, the department which puts that offensive slogan on in the first place. Imagine what would happen if thousands of bills were returned every month from banks all over America. It's just possible that the folks in charge might come around and realize that it would be better if our money did not have this blatantly unrepresentative yarn on it in the first place.

    3) I would know that I did something. I did something -- even if it is not earth shaking -- that I can be proud of having done. And that one little action rewards me a thousand fold by making me feel good -- even proud.

Oh, yes, there's not a lot we can do about the coins just now, but if people get clever, we might hear of something in the offing.

 

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I have been scratching "God" off of my money ever since I became an atheist. Here are some of my favorite alterations: 

I also had an idea for a stamp which replaces GOD with IPU, but I think the joke would be lost on the Infidels (the non-IPUists). 

May the Invisible Pink Unicorn bless you.

Chad Docterman

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I AGREE 100% WITH WHAT YOU SAY. 

I am also highly offended by a statement that declares "WE" in America in the 20th century trust in an ancient Jewish war-god -- for that is the god they are really talking about.

Another alternative is to place an "L" above and between the letters "O" & "D" and a caret (insert) below it so it looks like:

Sincerely, Kornform (actually trusting myself only).

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From: Fred Curry
To: Positive Atheism
Date: Wednesday, October 28, 1998 9:33 PM
Subject: WebMaster: Positive Atheism Index

Hi!

I think the rubber stamp idea to get rid of "In God We Trust" is a good one. When that is not available however a friend of mine suggested simply scratching out the "T" in trust so that you have "In God We rust", which I thought was pretty clever. Or just crossing it out period. It's probably more reasonable to expect people to do that than to write by hand "atheist money" or other slogans on their cash.

Do you have any idea of how many people are doing this? I, unfortunately, don't think I have ever run across any money with the unconstitutional slogan crossed out or changed. I didn't think very many other people were doing it -- especially with stamps.

P.S. Do you know if any further litigation is pending? It is my understanding that the slogan was kept for "historical reasons" but with the design of new money it seems those "historical reasons" are no longer present for the new 100 and now 20 dollar bills ...

Fredrick Curry

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From: Heinz W. Puppe
To: Positive Atheism
Subject: Dollar is God
Date: Thursday, October 29, 1998 2:13 AM

I just got my first NEW $20 bill at the bank. On it it says correctly: "In God we Trust." Which God? The DOLLAR, of course; MONEY is the God of America. That's quite correct.

Greetings from
Heinz W. Puppe
College Station, TX

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From: Charles Dick
To: Positive Atheism
Subject: IN_GOD_WE_TRUST_On_Our_Money
Date: Tuesday, August 17, 1999 11:36 PM

strange that i should run across this page while surfing. all this time i thought that I was the only person crossing the abomination off my bills. this is really cool. by the way, I also remove it from my coins using a dremel tool. I'm actually getting pretty good at it. some of my coins you can hardly tell were altered. at any rate, I never spend any money with the offensive phrase on it. well, I certainly hope this catches on in a major way.

Charles Dick
Spokane, WA

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From: Mark Lindsey
To: Positive Atheism
Subject: WebMaster:_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: Tue, 17 Aug 1999 23:48:17 _0700

Cliff,

What a cool site you have!!! I just stumbled upon it while performing a search for the legalities of defacing money. Not even knowing about your site, I'm putting together a web site to help spread my "No 'GOD' Money" compaign, in which I will be suggesting to people that they cross off the "In GOD We Trust" from their bills and coins to send a message to congress.

 

 

The site will be appearing at NoGodMoney.webjump.com in the near future. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter, and anything you may have discovered about the legality of this topic.

Cheers, -Mark Lindsey / Anti-theist ;)

Mark Lindsey

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From: "J. Madsen"
To: "Positive Atheism"
Subject: Re: Link
Date: Thursday, July 06, 2000 7:26 PM Hello Cliff,

Thanks for the info. Yes, I have joined in on crossing off the God slogan off of all my money, including the coins. People like the ones who wrote that webpage always claim that our forefathers would be ashamed and angry at all the "anti-God" stuff that's supposedly going on recently. But you're right, all this God stuff, like the slogan on the money and the "under God" in the pledge of allegiance, was all added much later than when our forefathers established this nation. Our forefathers, who obviously didn't think it was neccessary (and perhaps even thought it was harmful) to have these God slogans mixed in with our govermental affairs, are being distorted by the people like the ones who wrote that webpage just so they can justify inserting their particular god into our government.

Anyway, I have never heard of Tom Leykis before, but I will certainly look for information on his show.

Thanks for responding,
Peace,
Jess Madsen

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From: "Bobbi Needham"
To: "Positive Atheism"
Subject: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section
Date: Wednesday, July 12, 2000 6:54 AM

Hi Cliff,

Regarding the "In God We Trust" motto -- For the times when I must use cash, I have been using a black marker and striking out this motto from all my paper money. A friend recently told me that this is considered "defacing US currency", and is a criminal act. Do you know if this is indeed a crime, and if so, what the penalty is?

(I assume that I have broken no laws by having my personal checks imprinted with "God is Just Pretend".)

Thanks for your time,

Bobbi

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SECRET SERVICE THREATENS COUPLE
FOR STAMPING ONE DOLLAR BILLS

09/11/95

WOODSTOCK, New York -- A couple who habitually brand their one dollar bills with a marijuana leaf and the quote: "I grew hemp," were recently contacted by Woodstock police acting on behalf of the Secret Service. Joy Beckerman and James Horn, owners of the Heaven On Earth Hemp Store, report that the police came to them with Xerox copies of stamped dollar bills and a written warning from the secret service specifying that the practice of defacing United States currency was a federal crime. Although Horn admits that the local officers were laid back about the whole issue, he claims that the notice stated that the U.S. Attorney General would be contacted and charges would be pressed if the couple didn't immediately stop the stamping.

While Horn fully admits to stamping many of his dollar bills with the pro-hemp message, he is alarmed that the federal government seems to be targeting him alone. Since Heaven On Earth sells the "I grew hemp" stampers, the couple argues that the government has no way of proving that the bills in question were defaced by them.

Horn says that he will continue to both sell stampers and stamp some of his one dollar bills despite the warning. The couple see their action as a way of informing the community of hemp's industrial uses and its historical background as an integral American crop.

For more information, please contact either Joy Beckerman or James Horn of Heaven On Earth @ (914) 679-4990.

 

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From: "Positive Atheism"
To: "Bobbi Needham"
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section
Date: Friday, July 14, 2000 5:30 AM

 

The article omits the fact that the "I Grew Hemp" stamps are a dialogue balloon ostensibly quoting George Washington, who grew hemp and wrote instructions to "separate the males from the females." Now, what on Earth would someone want to do that for, unless to prevent germination? And why would someone want to prevent the germination of hemp? And how much was ol' George's annual alcohol budget? (Now we know why he was kneeling by his horse in that painting!)

 

I'd like to see the law.

Even if there is a law, I'd like to see it pitted against an atheist's First Amendment right to speak out against government irresponsibility and against what many Americans see as an illegal act (promoting religion).

This sounds fishy, considering that the Secret Service is deputized to protect the First Family. I didn't know their authority extended beyond that.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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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 not more than $100 or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

Defacement of currency in such a way that it is made unfit for circulation comes under the jurisdiction of the United States Secret Service. Their address is: United States Secret Service, 1800 G Street, N. W., Washington, DC 20223.

 

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From: "Positive Atheism"
To: "Bobbi Needham"
Subject: Re: Defacing US currency, "In God We Trust"
Date: Sunday, July 16, 2000 3:49 PM

This act directly pits their right to enforce defacing laws against the separationists' and anti-prohibitionists' First Amendment right to free speech. I would gladly risk the six months just to be a test case that pits my First Amendment right to criticize my country against a two-bit law protecting the physical integrity of our currency.

Thus, my intent is to protest and draw awareness to my country's use of a religious slogan on the money. I do this by crossing out the word "GOD" with a ball pen so that people who later possess the bill can tell what I have done. Blotting it out caused so many people to ask me, "What used to be there?" so the educational (speech) value is enhanced if I simply cross out the word and write a brief slogan of protest underneath. If I cross out the word "GOD" and write "Religion OFF!" or "Religion OFF our money!" underneath, I maximize the chance that others will think about this and become aware of the situation. This is why I do this rather than using the "ATHEIST MONEY" stamp or blotting out the entire phrase completely: I am trying to communicate to my fellow-citizens as well as to my government (the Treasury).

I don't think we'd have to do the time. I don't think we'd even be charged, much less convicted. However, if I became a test case and lost, they would slap me with the full amount as a symbolic gesture. As the loser of a celebrated case, supporters of my cause would take care of my personal affairs for me while I did the time; as a citizen with a spotless record dating back to the 1980s, I would do some token time in a "farm" or other country-club-like minimum security institution.
 

However, when I used the "ATHEIST MONEY" stamp, bills often wouldn't work in such machines as the stamp machines in the Post Office. We found this out the hard way after laboriously folding and labeling over 100 magazines, grabbing several $20s, stamping out the offensive slogan on each of them, and going down to the all-night Post Office to buy some stamps. Good thing there are lots of "coke machines" (automatic teller machines, in drug parlance) around, and that we had some money left in the account! However, I haven't notice this to be the case as much when I simply write on the bill with single strokes of a ball pen. So, if the blot is too big, someone could try to make the case that we are rendering the bill unfit for use -- considering that "use" now includes machines. By the way, stamped bills seem to work fine in Oregon Lottery machines, which may be a comment on government priorities!

We must keep in mind that activists who advocate breaking a law could get into more serious trouble than breaking the law itself. When I worked at KBOO-FM in Portland, we were constantly urged to use language such as "I am going to break such and so law" or "Such-and-so group of activists will be breaking this or that law" rather than "Go out and join the activists in breaking the law." This is why I have yet to market the "Religion OFF" stamps that I would like to market. PAM may be broke, but we're not that broke!

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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Added: September 1, 2004

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