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Letter to the Editor of the Daily Oklahoman

RE:  August 19 article on Religious Posters in Guthrie Public Schools

Under the guise of patriotism, Logan County Republican Women are teaching unsuspecting public school children in Guthrie to take God's name in vain.

The women are placing posters in public schools that read "In God We Trust," but really mean "In (fill in the blank) We Trust."  Otherwise, the posters would be endorsing religion and the First Amendment of the Constitution prohibits establishing a religion.

The Supreme Court says the reference to "God" in our national motto is "a form of 'ceremonial deism'" that has "lost through rote repetition any significant religious content." (Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668 (1984), 716-717.)

As the Superintendent of Guthrie Public Schools explained in an August 19 interview with the Daily Oklahoman, "`In God We Trust' can be interpreted however you want. It's a government statement.'"

Interpreting God "however you want," is precisely what the third command of the ten commandments prohibits: "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." (Ex. 20:7)

Despite what the Supreme Court says, the name of God is clearly not to be invoked in frivolous doubletalk, or referenced in senseless repetition, or masked in meaningless mottos.

Must our children be exposed to the profanation of the name of God on the walls in the halls of our public schools?

The Republican Women of Logan County are probably misinformed about the meaning of our national motto. Surely they don't intend to profane God's name by defining it one way in court and another way in public. That would violate both the command about not bearing false witness (Ex. 20:16) and the oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Their president says, "The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from religion." Obviously, she mistakenly believes that naming "God" in our national motto means something. Equally obvious is how misinformed she is about our Constitution.

The First Amendment prohibits the establishment of religion and insures its free exercise because Baptists who had been persecuted by the state churches in the colonies refused to adopt the Constitution until it was added. After its adoption, John Leland, the popular Baptist evangelist most instrumental in securing our Constitution's separation of church and state, was pleased that — without regard to faith — all would be first class citizens. He rejoiced that it would be equally possible for a "Pagan, Turk, Jew or Christian" to be eligible to serve in any post or office in the government.

In those days, Baptists and others knew from bitter experience that faith should not be propagated by the heavy hand of the state. It best comes from the delicate touch of the Spirit of God through the proclamation of the gospel.

Too many today have forgotten the lessons of history.

Dr. Bruce Prescott
Norman, OK



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