Mayle v. United States, No. 17-3221 (7th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
Mayle, an adherent of “non-theistic Satanism,” sued to enjoin the printing of the national motto, “In God We Trust,” on U.S. currency. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of his complaint, rejecting claims under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Equal Protection Clause, and the Free Speech, Free Exercise, and Establishment Clauses. The Supreme Court has observed that the motto “In God We Trust” merely acknowledges a part of our nation’s heritage (albeit a religious part) and does not “pose a real danger of establishment of a state church.” Mayle has not been coerced into participating in Christianity; “no one walking down the street who saw Mayle would have the faintest idea what Mayle had in his pocket—currency or plastic payment cards or perhaps just a smartphone.” The motto’s placement on currency has the secular purpose of recognizing the religious component of our nation’s history and does not affect current religious practices. The motto is generally applicable and no reasonable person would believe that using currency has religious significance. Mayle has not suffered a financial burden because of his religious beliefs, nor has he altered his behavior to avoid violating his religious beliefs.