"God" in county seal stirring up controversy
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 ChapterAmericans United for Separation of Church and State
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