Godless SBA Dollars?
"Godless" Presidential dollars, this isn't the first time that dollar coins have been caught up in a godless controversy.
In 1979 Susan B. Anthony dollars were issued to replace the much larger Dwight Eisenhower dollars. Once again a controversy would erupt over the motto "In God We Trust," only this time the issue was in reverse.
Susan B. Anthony was a leader of the women’s suffragist movement and an equal rights advocate. In 1878 she helped draft the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that allowed women the right to vote, although it took another 40 years before enough of the states ratified it.
In 1972 Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). However as a 1979 deadline approached, the ERA still needed to be ratified by at least 38 states to be added to the Constitution. As the deadline approached, it seemed only fitting that the new dollar coin should depict a well known equal rights advocate.
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While Susan B. Anthony is still well known for her support of women's rights, what isn't so well known is that she is believed to be an atheist and atheist groups soon took up the cause to remove the motto.
(Ironically, it was President Eisenhower, who was being replaced on the dollar coin, who signed the bill into law that created "In God We Trust" as the National Motto.)
While she never called herself an atheist, her personal diaries and letters do reveal her to be at a minimum agnostic.
In one letter to her sister about another sister Hannah's death ("The Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony," by Ida Harper 1898, p.516), she reveals a final conversation with her dying sister in which she states, "I could not dash her faith with my doubts, nor could I pretend a faith I had not, so I was silent in the dread presence of death."
A female admirer of Susan B. Anthony and head of an atheist group petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to have the motto removed from the coin. Had she succeeded, we would be collecting SBA dollars today by two types, one of which would certainly be referred to as "Godless."