Magazine article Insight on the News

All Things Are Possible - except, of Course, Jesus

Magazine article Insight on the News

All Things Are Possible - except, of Course, Jesus

Article excerpt

The words of Jesus are good enough to remain as the motto of the state of Ohio, so long as Ohioans don't know He spoke them to his disciples, or that they are recorded in Scripture.

A federal judge has ruled that Ohio can keep the phrase "With God, all things are possible" as its official motto, but the state may not cite the Bible as the source of the quotation.

The motto, which appears on state documents and publications and in public locations, comes from Matthew 19:26 and is part of a dialogue between Jesus and his disciples.

Two years ago, Ohio Republican Gov. George V. Voinovich proposed that the motto be inscribed in six-inch bronze letters on the statehouse plaza -- an idea he developed while visiting India, where he saw the phrase "Government work is God's work" inscribed on a state capitol. The governor presented his notion to a local advisory board. Members agreed, but the American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, did not. It filed a federal lawsuit in 1997 to squelch the motto, arguing it was unconstitutional and violated the separation of church and state.

Take away the Scripture reference, however, and the phrase becomes a benign, albeit generic, statement with no Christian trappings, noted U.S. District Judge James Graham in his 22-page opinion. The words themselves "do not suggest a denominational preference. They do not state a principle unique to Christianity. They are certainly compatible with all three of the world's major monotheistic religions."

Mottos, oaths and inscriptions are "also deeply embedded in the history and tradition of this country," wrote Graham. …

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