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Edison asked to post signs with references to God

Zoe Greszler • May 6, 2016 at 11:00 AM

MILAN — The Edison school board saw some public participation prior to the opening of the agenda at Tuesday night’s regular meeting. 

The Milan American Legion post requested the school post signs quoting references to God. The signs include the state and national mottos.

“Many may not know what the American Legion stands for,” said legion commander Paul Cummings.

“It was founded after World War I to preserve the rights of all Americans and to protect family members of those who have lost loved ones in war. We take preserving those rights very seriously,” he said.

“We know at one time there used to be signs hanging in the classrooms with the words of our motto — ’in God we trust’ and ’with God all things are possible.’ Since then they have been removed, possibly just when teachers pack up and move and they’re probably sitting in a box somewhere. But we’d like to get them out and dust them off, so to speak.”

“We would like to have these signs posted in the classrooms again,” chaplain Diane Moyer said.

“It is legal by the constitution to post them since they are from the national and state mottos. We thought there could be some problems with doing this, but we’re willing to to help you however we can. If you would like, you can direct (problems) to the American Legion if you think there will be problems.”

The signs depict the national flag with the phrase “In God we trust, the national motto of the United States adopted by Congress in 1956.” Underneath is the state flag with the phrase “With God all things are possible, the state motto of Ohio adopted by the general assembly in 1959.”

American Legion members said they intend to start by donating posters for the high school with two different sizes available, depending on the size of the room in which it is being posted.

Wilson Huhn, distinguished professor emeritus from the Akron University law school, said the situation could be a little confusing.

“It is a matter of constitutional law the American Legion does not have the right to have the school to post the posters. However there is a statute in Ohio (Revised) Code 3313.801, that would instruct the schools to accept posters or money for posters that would be used the both the national motto ’In God We Trust’ and the Ohio ’With God All Things Are Possible,’” Huhn said. “However, part B does give the board the authority to reject the the donation and design its own posters, a design that they would prefer.

“The courts have not ruled the constitutionality of this law under either the First Amendment or the establishment clause and right now the Supreme Court is split four to four on its definition of the establishment clause. Four justices might approve the display of the mottoes and posters like this because they find traditional types of displays to be constitutional while the other four justices would ask whether these posters and mottoes were intended to be an endorsement of religion.”

Superintendent Tom Roth said he appreciated the generosity.

“We are always happy to work with the American Legion,” he said.

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