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Is it legal for a school van to say ‘In God We Trust’?

John Peaspanen


Q. Recently, when driving on I-40, I saw an Ashley High School ROTC van with the words, IN GOD WE TRUST, on the back of it. Is this legal on a van owned by the state, or maybe the federal government?

A. The phrase “In God We Trust” is the official motto of the United States, supported by the U.S. Supreme Court. In this case, it is not on a federal or state-owned vehicle.

“The vehicle is someone’s personal vehicle and is not owned by NHCS,” said, Valita S. Quattlebaum, chief communications officer for New Hanover County Schools.

Adopted by Congress in 1956, the motto was first challenged in Aronow v. United States in 1970. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruling stated, “It is quite obvious that the national motto and the slogan on coinage and currency ‘In God We Trust’ has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion. Its use is of patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no true resemblance to a governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise.”

“In God we trust” was adopted as the official motto, replacing “E pluribus unum,” which was adopted in 1782 with the creation of the Great Seal of the United States.

If you look around while driving, you may notice the motto on license plates, as many states now offer “In God We Trust” stickers for placement on license plates.


What happened to the old tin sign on Castle Hayne Road that said “Get Right With God”?

What’s the deal with the church on Market Street near Ogden with a sign that says “pimp slap religion”?

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One Response to “ Is it legal for a school van to say ‘In God We Trust’?”

  1. On October 29, 2012 at 4:07 am Fred wrote:

    Do you think God cares if it is “legal”?

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