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."
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