Magazine article The Christian Century

Judge Rules against Ohio's State Motto

Magazine article The Christian Century

Judge Rules against Ohio's State Motto

Article excerpt

Deciding that the state motto of Ohio expresses "a uniquely Christian thought" and is a government endorsement of Christianity, a federal appeals court declared the motto unconstitutional April 25 in a 2-1 vote. In prohibiting Ohio's use of the motto "With God, all things are possible," the appellate court decided that U.S. District Judge James Graham should not have granted the state permission to use the motto with the stipulation that the phrase's biblical origins could not be cited.

"When Jesus spoke to his disciples, he was explaining to them what was needed of them to enter heaven and achieve salvation, a uniquely Christian thought not shared by Jews and Muslims," wrote Circuit Judge Avern Cohn, according to the Associated Press.

In its lawsuit filed on behalf of Presbyterian minister Matthew Peterson, the American Civil Liberties Union argued that the phrase is inseparable from its biblical context. "Remarkably, advocates of the state motto attempted to drain the passage of its theological significance in their effort to avoid the First Amendment implications of its meaning," said the ACLU's Ohio Legal Director Raymond Vasvari. "It is just another example of how state sponsorship ultimately does no favors to religion. …

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