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As a student of Schreiber High School, I find the recent decision by the school board to display a flag with the words "In God We Trust" superimposed very disturbing. Although certainly well-meaning, there are several problems with the way in which the board went about approving of such a measure. Additionally, this banner serves to not only polarize students into two groups, but also directly insults those who do not believe in the Christian God (because creators of the slogan were clearly referring to the Christian God, as explained below) by implying that they are un-American and unpatriotic.

Although many will claim that it is appropriate to post such a thing during this time of mourning as a patriotic symbol, it must be noted that it was donated well before the Sept. 11 tragedy and therefore appears as if the board is simply taking advantage of a tragic situation where resistance to seemingly "patriotic" messages will be weak. This troubles me more than the insult to those who believe in something other than the Christian God. The justification for displaying this banner is also disturbing. For legal reasons, the school believes that the only way they can legally post it is by justifying it as a lesson in history. They are taking the position that a caption explaining that "In God We Trust" has been the national motto since 1956 meets this requirement. It is clear they were fully aware of the possible implications of displaying these words in a public school and were therefore compelled to search for a legal loophole to pass their agenda.

Although seemingly harmless, one must look at the true meaning of our national motto. It was propagated by the National Reform Association during the Civil War. Also on their agenda was the declaration of America as a Christian nation with Jesus Christ as the Lord and Ruler in the Preamble of the Constitution, making it clear that the God they mention in what is now our national motto is not a universal one, but strictly the Christian one. It must then be concluded that the display of such a statement implies that not only are atheists un-American, but so too are any who do not believe in the Christian God, including followers of Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and countless other faiths. It is utterly inappropriate for all of these citizens to be told that they are un-American or unpatriotic simply because they do not have faith in the Christian God.

Finally, during this time of mourning, it is essential to find a unifying factor to bring this country together. This might very well be the flag, but it certainly is not our motto, which divides rather than unites. Am I now forced to feel as if I am not a true American if I do not trust in God, even though I do trust in democracy? Therefore, I proposed that the slogan on the flag read: "In America We Trust" or "In Democracy We Trust" for those two secular slogans will certainly unite the country far better than a slogan with religious implications. For these reasons it is absolutely necessary to oppose the display of this banner.

Ian Marcellus

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