The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Ohio state motto ruled too Christian

A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled as unconstitutional Ohio's 41-year-old state motto, "With God, All Things Are Possible." The panel said the motto was a government endorsement of Christianity because it quotes Jesus addressing his disciples in Matthew 19:26. The April ruling reversed a 1998 decision that allowed use of the motto as long as its scriptural source wasn't cited.

The court said mottos such as the monetary inscription "In God We Trust" are constitutional because they express a general sentiment applicable to various religious views rather than a specifically Christian perspective.

Does striking down a religious motto make the government anti-religion? "I don't think the court is being hostile to God or Christianity," said Donald L. Rice, communications director for the ELCA Southern Ohio Synod. "What they're trying to do is define more clearly the wall that separates church and state. I don't think that by saying 'In God We Trust' people trust more in God. There's no benefit or detriment; it's just a slogan."

An injunction order to remove the motto from official use is on hold while an appeal is pending.


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