The simple answer is because one Christian reverend whined loud enough until someone in the government with a sympathetic ear gave in. According to the U.S. Department of Treasury it all started with a letter written by Rev. M. R. Watkinson. A Minister of the Gospel from Ridleyville, Pennsylvania in 1861 during the Civil War.
In the letter Watkinson very politely complained that there was no mention of God on our currency. His most offensive and arrogant statement was, “This would make a beautiful coin, to which no possible citizen could object. This would relieve us from the ignominy of heathenism.”
Think about that for a second, let the arrogance of this statement set in. No one “could could object”? “Ignominy”? “Heathenism”? In over a 150 years nothing much has changed when it comes to the arrogance of some within the religious community. To this day you can see people preaching “In God We Trust” in defiance of those who are trying to take it away from them. Even though there’s no open case of anyone trying to take it away, it’s a popular sentiment with the average religious person who is always made to believe that the phrase is constantly under attack. It’s not under attack but it’s easy to scare the delusional into believing anything when you appeal to their paranoid tendencies. This goes for almost everybody. Religious, atheist, republicans and democrats can all be easily manipulated. However, it’s the strongest when it comes to religion and politics. But, I digress.
So, shortly after Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase received the letter, he wrote to James Pollock, Director of the Mint and instructed him to come up with a motto that suggested no nation can be strong without a faith in God. Pollock came up with some suggestions, chase approved them and the rest is history.
Just like that we went from a country that prided itself on science and industry to a country that proudly claimed to be the leader in religious quackery. Just imagine, if you will, back when Thomas Jefferson and George Washington discussed the design for the first penny. Think about the pride they felt in the wording that was written on it, “Liberty Parent of Science & Industry” They fought so hard to free themselves from the chains of a government overrun and corrupt with religious power. How they must turn in their graves every time a religious person successfully weasels it’s ideology into the very government that was created to protect us from it.
*History of ‘In God We Trust’
*First U.S. penny sold for $1.2 million
Why Is God Part of the Pledge of Allegiance?