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LEE, Kristina

Fall 2022, 52.5 pages: 417-432

“In God We Trust?”: Christian Nationalists’ Establishment and Use of Theistnormative Legislation


This essay examines how US Christian nationalists have come to rely on the motto “In God We Trust” as a piece of theistnormative legislation that they believe legitimizes their understanding of the United States as a Christian nation. Through an analysis of archival documents and congressional hearings, I demonstrate how Christian nationalists played a key role in the establishment of “In God We Trust” on coins and as the national motto that has allowed contemporary Christian nationalists to point to the motto as “proof” that the United States is a Christian nation. This project challenges the taken-for-granted historical narrative that the motto “In God We Trust” is a secular celebration of US religious heritage through demonstrating how the motto, from its beginning, has functioned to promote and mask Christian nationalism, often at the expense of marginalized groups.

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