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The euro coins for 1 and 2 euros allow for an inscription on the edge of the coin. Each country is allowed to use an inscription of their choosing.
(Euro coins allow for a national side as well, for which each country in the EMU can provide a design).

A stack of Dutch Euro coins

The Dutch inscription is "God zij met ons", which means "(may) God be with us". It's the only country in the EMU that uses a religious inscription — not even the Vatican does that.

Even though The Netherlands do not have as strong an anti-establishment clause as the USA have, they do not have a state religion.

Why then do The Netherlands have a religious inscription on their euro coins?

What were the forces in play that made a nominally secular country repeat the religious slogan from the guilder on their euro?

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    Because they're a sovereign country and they wanted to put it on there? Asking "Why?" is awfully vague. – abelenky Jan 18 '17 at 14:50
  • @abelenky I've tried to clarify. – SQB Jan 18 '17 at 14:54
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    Even though The Netherlands do not have as strong an anti-establishment clause as the USA have, they do not have a state religion. Even though the USA has as strong an anti-establishment clause as the USA has (trivially), US currency includes "In God We Trust." – Joshua Taylor Jan 18 '17 at 19:10
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    We (USA) have In God We Trust due to whoever controlled Congress at the time (1950s also the time of all the communist scares, Mcarthyism, blacklists) thinking that it would be a good idea. – NZKshatriya Jan 19 '17 at 1:26
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This phrase has been on the edge of the Dutch Guilder since 1816. Aside from religious reasons, a practical reason it was added was to prevent forgery and clipping.

When the Euro came 'round many people thought it might be appropriate to use a more secular phrase, and many op-eds and arguments were written. But especially the SGP was fiercely against this and enthusiastically campaigned to keep it.

The SGP is a fundamentalist Protestant party. They want to establish a theocracy and outlaw "false" religions. Not paraphrasing here; this is literally in their party program (in this answer I went in to some depth as to why they're still a part of modern Dutch politics).

There was no vote for the design, the minister of finance (Gerrit Zalm) chose it. Why exactly did he choose it? I can't find any clear statements from him about this. Some plausible reasons:

  • Dutch politics are very much based compromise and consensus. There's even a word for it: polderen. Zalm may have simply not wanted to "ruffle any feathers" to maintain a good working relationship with the SGP (and in significantly lesser degree some other parties, such as the Christian-Democrats). This would benefit his own party in the long run in a quid pro quo fashion.

  • Similarly, removing it might alienate some religious voters, while keeping the phrase was a lot less likely to alienate more secular minded voters.

  • Tradition may have played a role. The phrase is from Romans 8:31, and the full Latin phrase Si Deus nobiscum quis contra nos first appeared on coins in the Dutch Republic of 1581 which laid the foundation of the modern Netherlands (thank you MSalters for pointing this out).


To explain the mindset perhaps another example of polderen might help, for example how the Netherlands dealt with the matter of conciousness objections of civil servants against marrying same-sex couples.

Last year in the U.S. Kim Davis stirred up a lot of trouble about this – it was an affair full of conflict, court orders, protests, and all sorts of consternation.

In the Netherlands – where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2001 – we've also had to deal with this situation. But the political approach to it has been very different. Sure, there have been heated and passionate debates – as there should be – but in the end a compromise was reached where civil servants hired before the compromise took effect were allowed to refuse to marry same-sex couples (municipalities still have the obligation to guarantee that same-sex marriages can actually marry though).

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    The older version Si Deus nobiscum quis contra nos has been on Dutch coins since the 80 years war. This war is the Dutch war of independence, so this text is not just a bit historical, it goes back to the core of the nation. Also, there is more than a bit of irony in the fact that it combines religion and money, the two chief causes of the Dutch secession from Spain. – MSalters Jan 18 '17 at 18:22
  • @MSalters Thanks! I actually knew that, but didn't really consider it could have been a factor. I suppose that it's not implausible that it was. – user11249 Jan 18 '17 at 20:08

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