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Zion mans hopes judge will let him change his name to 'In God We Trust'
By Vincent Pierri | Daily Herald Photo Editor

Steve Kreuscher of Zion hopes to change his name to "In God We Trust." He says the phrase sums up his whole life.

 

Vince Pierri | Staff Photographer

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Published: 5/3/2008 12:15 AM

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A local artist says the only way he can truly express himself is by legally changing his name to "In God We Trust."

Yes. First name, "In God." Last name, "We Trust."

School bus driver and amateur artist Steve Kreuscher of Zion will appear in a Lake County court June 13, hoping the judge will grant his request.

"I want this with all my heart," says the 57-year-old father of four.

Kreuscher, a Christian who gave up on organized religion 20 years ago, said the new name would symbolize the story of his life.

"I've had to trust God through incredibly hard times," he said.

Going through an "extremely painful" divorce, bouts of severe depression, money problems and a life-threatening home invasion, he believes God protected him through it all.

He's also worried atheists might finally be successful in having the phrase "In God We Trust" removed from U.S. currency.

"Those words are an endangered species," Kreuscher said. "You might take it off the money, but you can't take away my name."

He remembers when the phrase "God Reigns" was removed from the Zion city seal in 1992 after the courts deemed it as unconstitutional.

Kreuscher is confident the judge will allow the change and believes his request won't violate the regulations.

Northbrook attorney Alan Pearlman, who has handled hundreds of name change cases, said he's not aware of any specific list of rules. But he said a judge can deny names that are racial slurs or considered obscene. If they violate trademarks, or duplicate the name of a celebrity, they would likely be rejected.

"I doubt a judge would let you change your name to Brad Pitt," he said.

Living celebrities might not be copied, but mythical characters are apparently fair game.

In 1997, Robert Rion of Mundelein succeeded in having his name changed to Santa Claus.

Pearlman said the most common reasons people change their names is divorce and adoption.

The county charges $246 for the petition. In addition, it requires the person to publish a legal notice in the newspaper three times. That could cost as much as $150.

"That will be the best $400 I've ever spent," Kreuscher said.

He said he would love to be able to sign his artwork with the new moniker.

Inspired by the work of Salvador Dali and M.C. Escher, Kreuscher said he creates surrealistic images using colored pencils.

"'In God We Trust' fully expresses who I am as an artist and a person," he said. "You don't know how bad I want this."

Interesting legal name changes

Santa Claus: Robert Rion of Mundelein, 1997

GoVeg.com: Karin Robertson of Virginia, 2003

Megatron: Michael Burrows of Washington, 2007

Optimus Prime: Scott Nall of Ohio, 2001

Pro-Life: Marvin Richardson of Idaho, 2008

Low Tax: Byron Looper of Tennessee, 1998

Jesus Christ: Jose Espinal of New York, 2005

Sources: Daily Herald interviews, Legalzoom.com