CINCINNATI — Ohio's state motto, "With God all things are possible," is not all that different from the words on U.S. currency and does not advocate Christianity, a divided federal appeals court ruled in a case that involved interpreting the Constitution's 1st Amendment.
The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, with nine of its 13 judges siding with the majority, declared Friday in a lengthy opinion that the state motto, much like "In God we trust" printed on U.S. currency, does not favor one religion over another.
"Like the national motto, and the national anthem, and the pledge of allegiance, the Ohio motto is a symbol of a common identity. Such symbols unquestionably serve an important secular purpose--reinforcing the citizen's sense of membership in an identifiable state or nation," Judge David Nelson wrote for the majority.
But dissenting Judge Gilbert Merritt wrote that Ohio's motto "conveys a sectarian view of God as interventionist, active and omnipotent" that differs from the "God" on U.S. currency that "may be drawn from any of the gods of the world's vast pantheon of divinity."