The man responsible for getting "In God We Trust" printed on all U.S. paper currency says God entrusted him with the mission--and he's proud of carrying it out.
"The Lord seemed to tell me to do this. He put the idea so strongly in my mind that I worked on it until I accomplished my goal," declared Matthew Rothert, now 83.
Rothert was attending a church service in 1953 when he suddenly noticed that the bills he was about to drop into the collection plate didn't bear the motto "In God We Trust," as U.S. coins do.
"I realized that the circulation of American coins was limited to the boundaries of the country, while U.S. paper money circulated worldwide," Rothert recalled.
It looked like Americans were saying they trusted in God only a few cents' worth!
"That's when the idea struck: What better way to let the world know about our nation's faith than to place word of it on our currency?"
Rothert, then president of a furniture manufacturing company in Camden, Ark., immediately launched a one-man campaign to get "In God We Trust" added to paper money.
He wrote a flood of letters to government leaders then personally went to Washington, D.C., to get U.S. Sen. William Fulbright of Arkansas to back his compaign.
"For the next two years I spent much of my free time writing letters to members of Congress and speaking to civic groups." His work paid off when a bill was introduced in Congress to have the motto put on all U.S. paper currency.
"The bill passed the Senate by an overwhelming majority on June 7, 1955, and was passed by the House, a few days later," Rothert said. It was challenged in court by atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair, who was responsible for getting prayer banned in America's schools--but the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear her case.
In 1957 the first $1 bills bearing the motto "In God We Trust" rolled off the press. A few years later it was added to all denominations of paper currency.
"In the past 30 years I've signed thousands of $1 bills for people who know me as the man responsible for putting "In God We Trust" on our currency," said Rothert, who has four children and eight grandchildren.
"I'm immensely proud of the role I played, but I give all the credit to the Lord because He put it in my mind."--Larry Masidlover