Sunday, October 23, 2016

In God We Trust

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In God We Trust. This simple motto of our nation has appeared on our money since 1864 and guided our principles since Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence.

Now, after over 150 years of Trusting in God with our currency, the militant atheist group Freedom From Religion Foundation has petitioned to have our national motto removed from police cars nationwide.

Calling the motto exclusionary to non-religious people, the Foundation sent letters to precincts in 11 different states requesting that the words be removed from patrol cars.

The controversy over the stickers got a significant boost in national interest when Missouri sheriff Doug Rader released a public message late last month stating in part:

“I am proud to announce that all of the Stone County Sheriff’s Office Patrol vehicles now have ‘In God we trust’ on the back. This became our National Motto in 1956 and is on all of our currency. There has been no better time than now to proudly display our National Motto!”

Rader received a storm of critical response to the announcement, but dismissed the complaints as being from far out of his state.

In response to the FFRF’s letter, the Alliance Defending Freedom issued a counter-epistle to the same police departments, reminding them that they have Constitutionally protected rights to speech as well.

The ADF’s missive stated ““FFRF wrongly claims that it is ‘inappropriate’ for members of your team ‘to promote their religious views’ by displaying our national motto. We write to inform you that it does not violate the First Amendment for your team to continue displaying the national motto on department vehicles and to offer our assistance if FFRF or any other atheist group threatens your department with litigation over the use of ‘In God We Trust.’”

FFRF has lost cases over the motto in courts previously, including as recently as 2014, when US courts confirmed jurisprudence reaching back to 1970s regarding the legality of our national motto on our currency and in public places, including classrooms. In fact, since 2010, more courts have refused to hear challenges to the motto than have entertained them.

The original case challenging the motto was Aronow v. United States, heard in 1970. The majority opinion read in part “It is quite obvious that the national motto and the slogan on coinage and currency ‘In God We Trust’ has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion. Its use is of a patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no true resemblance to a governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise.”

This case law has repeatedly withstood scrutiny. So for now, it is safe to put “In God We Trust” into the public sphere – until the radical left finds another avenue to attack it from.

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Taking a stand for religious freedom and time honored traditions, parents and students at the Ridgewood Middle School in West Shreveport planned demonstrations to keep the words “In God We Trust” on the school’s marquee before being notified by school officials that the change would not take place as planned.

One such demonstration involved students at the school who held a lunchtime rally where organizers distributed 500 T-shirts bearing the iconic phrase to attendees.

The storm erupted last month with a dispute at another school within the Caddo Parish where one unnamed individual filed a complaint with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against Albert Hardison, principal at the Walnut Hill Middle School, and his practice of including prayers in school communications.

The litigation threat by the ACLU against the school system prompted Mr. Hardison to remove all references to God or religion of any kind from announcements, official documents and websites maintained by the Caddo Parish School District – including the phrase “In God We Trust” from the marquee in front of the Ridgewood Middle School.

After further review by attorney’s representing the school district, school officials were given the go ahead to keep the phrase with the caveat that subsequent litigation could result in the removal of “In God We Trust” from the school front at a later date.

The push back began when 40 student members of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) enlisted the help of Pastor and parent Joey Ketchum who organized the rally and the T-shirt giveaway at the school.

Pastor Ketchum contacted station KSLA 12 to discuss the controversy after being notified by school officials that the phrase would stay on the schools marquee. In an interview with Ketchum in front of the sign, he told KSLA:

“I’m so thrilled because that is such a victory for our students. They wanted to take a stand and they did and we’re so thrilled to death that their voice was heard loud and clear.”

Anyone familiar with the legal tactics used by the ACLU and their “deep pocket” ability to drive up the litigation costs of targets that refuse to yield to the organization’s demands – regardless of the merits of a case – know that the school’s victory may be short lived.



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