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Cleveland Plain-Dealer
Bill aims to put God-related mottoes in schools
Saturday, May 15, 2004
Julie Carr Smyth Plain Dealer Bureau

Columbus Ohio schoolchildren could take tests, eat lunch and watch assemblies under "God," if a bill up for a House committee vote next week becomes law. The legislation calls for the state and national mottoes respectively, "With God All Things Are Possible" and "In God We Trust" to hang in every classroom, cafeteria and auditorium of every public and charter school in the state.

State Rep. Keith Faber of Celina, the bill's Republican sponsor, said the mandate would not apply unless the signs were donated. Faber said that the intent was to inspire "a historical context discussion with regard to the founding fathers and these mottoes" and that placing them liberally around schools would assure "they aren't stuck in some obscure corner."
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2001 that Ohio's motto is constitutional because it is too vague to be seen as endorsing one religion over another.

The U.S. motto has also been upheld as constitutional. But American Civil Liberties Union-Ohio staff lawyer Carrie Davis, whose organization fought Ohio's motto, said the bill remains alarming. "The courts have ruled that the mottoes themselves don't violate the Constitution, but posting anything religious in a state building does," she said.
Faber argued: "Nothing in the bill says my God is right and your God is wrong."

The bill's fate may hinge on the U.S. Supreme Court's much-awaited decision on the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools, expected by fall.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:, 1-800-228-8272

Last updated: May 15, 2004