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3:50 PM Wed, Jan. 16th

Marvins Window: In God We Trust

As I looked out my window Sunday morning holding a $20 dollar bill in my hand, I pondered what I wrote last week about my objection to teaching religion in public schools.

I looked down and read the inscription "In God We Trust" printed on the bill.

Some groups in this country are trying to get that inscription taken off our currency.

They contend it violates the constitution.

They are among those who interrupt the statement that the federal government shall not establish a religion as prohibiting any religion in any form that has any kind of governmental function.

In my opinion, changing the currency is stretching that kind of "establishment" argument far beyond any logical intent of the founding fathers who wrote the constitution.

Prohibiting Santa Claus and Christmas trees in public areas is the same logic run amuck.

The legal argument contends that Santa Claus and Christmas trees are Christian symbols

and constitute the government "establishing" a religion.

A little historical research will show you that Santa Claus and Christmas trees are traditions with a variety of origins, including pagan sources.

Some Christian groups consider them symbols of a commercialization of the birth of Christ that takes away from the significance of the season and from their Christian beliefs.

This week, a court ruled that a university, Virginia Military Institute, could no longer say grace before meats! I find that downright stupid.

But, this is my window and many of you will have a different view.

I take the stand that the court has infringed the free speech rights of students.

We bend over backwards to keep out country tolerant of all religions, except Christianity.

The chapel at the U.S.

Air Force Academy has space for Christian, Jewish and Muslim services.

That is tolerance that allows diversity.

The court decision at VMI is just the opposite.

Protecting a small minority by restricting the rights of the majority is not tolerance.

I am a strong supporter of allowing prayer at school events, including prayer by all the religions represented in the community.

Let the people experience the views of others, not build animosity by eliminating all expression of religious culture.

I have followed the work of a Jewish lawyer who has been before the Supreme Court on many occasions supporting a Christian's right to distribute religious materials in public places, including sidewalks and beaches.

He has supported prayer at school and Bible clubs as part of the extracurricular activities.

He has won almost every case on grounds of free speech.

However, many school administrators still prohibit things the courts have said should be allowed.

The lawyer and his organization have written a series of publications outlining the rights of Christian students in public schools and sent them to administrators, churches and student groups.

Even after the court makes decisions, some groups do not seem to get the message.

A southern judge has been sued for saying a prayer at the opening of his court.

Part of his defense was to point out that Congress and the Supreme Court have always opened with a prayer.

"But, you mean it when you pray," he was told.

"It is just a ceremony at the Supreme Court and in Congress."

Does that mean I can pray anywhere as long as I do not mean it or do not believe prayer has any power?

Some years ago a religious group made a stir by not allowing their children to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance in school.

The Supreme Court ruled that they could be excused.

The Court did not rule that the Pledge should be eliminated from school.

I wonder if the Court would eliminate the Pledge if that case should come before them today?

America is a tolerant country that allows a diversity of culture, values and religious worship.

That tolerance is sorely tested when one or two persons cause everyone else to lose rights because those two are "embarrassed" at a public gathering where prayer is said.

One city refused to allow Santa Claus to appear at a city ceremony to light the city tree opening the shopping season.

A couple of people said it was "establishing a religion."

I liked the response.

Several "Santas" showed up at the tree lighting in "uniform" carrying protest signs! National exposure caused the city to change its mind.

I oppose teaching religion in public schools and support teaching ABOUT religion in public schools.

I support keeping religion in our public society, including for both the majority Christians and all the others.

Atheists can accept my right to pray and I will accept their right to not pray, even if we are sitting side by side at a public event.

I will tolerate your view from your window and pray you will continue to let me enjoy the view from my window.

That is the essence of a diverse and tolerant America.