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"God" in county seal stirring up controversy

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Updated: 4/26/2013 9:13 am
PENNEY FARMS, Fla. -- A retired minister is outraged after a local county board added "In God We Trust" to its seal.

It's only 4 words. We see it on our money, even on police cruisers. But a retired minister has a big problem with putting the phrase on the seal in Clay County. "That's crossing the line," said Harry Parrott. 

Harry Parrott is president of the local chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. In a letter he read to county commissioners, he says the change was made for religious reasons. "The question is why make the change after 150 years," said Parrott. "It was an oversight," said Commissioner Ronnie Robinson. 

Commissioner Ronnie Robinson says Parrott is way off base. "I think the pastor is wrong. He needs to remember why we came to this country," said Robinson. "It's inappropriate for a religious message to put out by a government agency," said Parrott. 

In God We Trust has been printed on money for decades. Now it will be on the county seal, despite what a retired minister says will lead the  county into a mess of "division and discord."  Parrott says it sends the wrong message. "What we did here is not an inclusion of church and government at all," said Robinson. 

There was no cost to make the change because its an electronic. The retired ministers full statement is below.

Thank you very much for this opportunity to speak today.  My name is Harry Parrott, 4445 Wilbanks Ave,  Penney Farms. I come this afternoon as President of the Clay County Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.  Our chapter is a local group made up of people with many points of view, but united in a commitment to the historical principle of church/state separation – which means firstly, freedom of conscience for everyone, and secondly, ensuring this  freedom by keeping government out of our religious lives.  I bring today a serious request, namely, that you put aside the totally unnecessary and unwise decision you made last month about adding “In God We Trust” to our County Seal. I’d like to make just two brief points, then give to each of you a somewhat more detailed letter from our national office in Washington D.C. which I hope you will take very seriously. 
My first point is very simple: each of you was elected to do the very hard and important work of government.  You were not elected to give spiritual or religious guidance or leadership. This County has upwards of two hundred churches and houses of worship of every description, each with its own religious leader.  Citizens who are looking for religious guidance or advice have many leaders to go to. We urge you to consider this most basic American principle:  you are elected to be political leaders working on behalf of all citizens.  You are not elected to give religious leadership, and to do so creates division and discord that is totally unnecessary and pointless.  Why do it?
Secondly, there are some of you who want to avoid trouble by minimizing your action and downplaying its importance.  Some have been quoted as saying that that this is not really a religious slogan but just part of our “heritage” --- something common to everyone, just a generality that offends no one.  The question is: who is kidding who?  Clearly, the two persons who requested this slogan are not teachers of generalities; they are men who represent very specific Christian doctrines and dogmas. Not only is this a “Christian County”, they say, but they believe that everyone should come to Jesus Christ and share his love (Times Union March 13, 2013).  Surely, these men are free to believe as they wish. But just as certainly, this Christian evangelistic slogan has no place on the seal of this County.
On behalf of the Chapter I represent, I would respectfully ask that you please reverse the contentious and unwise decision you made last month. It only leads the County into a morass of division and discord, is totally uncalled for and totally unnecessary. 

Rev Harry Parrott Jr. D. Min, President. Clay County Chapter
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
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valotte - 4/26/2013 7:24 PM
1 Vote
I think Mr Parrott put it all quite eloquently. The seal should not say "In God We Trust", any more than it should say "In Allah We Trust". Or Buddha, or Jahweh. He obviously understands the true meaning of Separation of Church and State, which was a founding principal of our constitution. Keeping those words off the seal helps protect ALL of our religious freedoms. I don't know why that is so hard for some people to grasp. He is NOT saying that you can't practice your religion in the privacy of your own home and church. He's just saying YOUR religion has no place in our government. And yes, I'm a Christian. And an American. And nope, I'm not going anywhere because this is my country too!

mmmmikkimac - 4/26/2013 6:29 PM
2 Votes
Religion should be taught at home and at the place of worship. Not in schools and not in govt. bldgs. Just look at the mess of countries who have a theocractic form of govt. There is NO freedom in most of them and what freedoms there are, are restricted. I don't want to go back to the Dark Ages.

mmmmikkimac - 4/26/2013 6:25 PM
2 Votes
The Clay Co. Commissioner must have failed US history class. The "pilgrims" and "separatists" and the "quakers" came to the MA Bay colony to get away from the Church of Englands forced ideology. People had to go to church on Sunday or be arrested. Some were forced into jails; others ran off to avoid being arrested. They came here to practice what they felt was right; NOT to force their religious beliefs on others. Our Constitution says there will be NO state religion! It allows us to practice any faith we choose, and also, the right to practice no religion if we choose! That is why our Founding Fathers wrote that there would be a separation of church and state. I have ancestors who were pilgrims, separatists and quakers and they were allowed to practice their beliefs without fear of govt. retribution. It was good enough for them almost 400 yrs ago and its good enough for us now!

Amused - 4/26/2013 5:44 PM
3 Votes
Truthseeker: Our motto--at least in my United States--is E Pluribus Unum. It means Out of Many, One. Many people, many religions, many states. If you don't like that motto, you've got two choices: work within the political framework to change it, or LEAVE! nativejax: The kings and queens you're referring to--especially the English ones--made a pretty good habit of killing other Christians when they flip flopped between Catholic and Protestant. I don't remember the part where they "took over", as the colonies were founded with charters from the kings and queens. MilitaryMan: He's trying to keep the discussion of the "true God" where it belongs: Church, Home, and the Internet, instead of where the commissioners are trying to stuff it and it doesn't belong: modern American government.

Brice Trumey - 4/26/2013 5:25 PM
0 Votes
There is no heaven, there is no hell, there is no god, I wish you well.

nativejax - 4/26/2013 1:47 PM
0 Votes
These radical leftist liberals in this Country won't be happy until they remove GOD'S name off of everything. Those vd infected Kings and Queens over there did the same thing through out history when they took over and forced THEIR power over the land. Remember? God save THIS COUNTRY.

RiverRat - 4/26/2013 1:00 PM
0 Votes
Not sure it was wise to put this crack pots address out there. Might be another crack pot out there with an opposing view and a can of kerosene.

MilitaryMan - 4/26/2013 12:00 PM
2 Votes
Is he REALLY a retired minister, or an active Imam ? ? Sounds like he might be a Muslim, believing that Allah is the one "true god". Oh, and for more sad news, George Jones just passed away. (This should make this article more interesting).

Gunny48 - 4/26/2013 9:18 AM
2 Votes
"In GOD we trust - deal with it"

Figgeritout - 4/26/2013 9:16 AM
2 Votes
dear news:Next time u publish a view, both sides shud be explored. The minister comes off as the anti-christ. Clay county could use all the God they can get....
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