Pastoral message to fellow Michigan clergy
by Len ZangerTo open a discussion on this article, please use the contact page to provide your comments.
I am moved to discuss my concerns over legislation recently signed into law by our beloved Governor. I am referring to Public Act 184, which encourages the display of "In God We Trust" in or on public buildings and land. This phrase, adopted as our national motto in 1956 by an Act of Congress in response to McCarthyism, is in my opinion a clear violation of the principle of church /state separation, and is an affront to the Articles of Faith which are the foundation of the UCTAA. Its display represents an official endorsement of a particular religious idea by government, indicating a preference of one religious belief over any others, such as ours.
Endorsement of this phrase assumes first of all, the promotion of belief by government that there is in fact a God, an idea not held by all religions, certainly not by all Americans, and certainly not by Apathetic Agnostics. It strongly invokes the Judeo-Christian God, which demonstrates government endorsement of that particular theology. The advocates of the legislation, and others who support the idea, are for the most part conservative Christians and representatives of Christian lobbying groups and social movements. The claim that the "God" in the motto is a generic, non-denominational deity is merely obfuscation and is a cynical attempt to appeal to fairness. The claim that "God" is not a religious idea is simply an outright fabrication.
My personal view is that displays of IGWT and of the Ten Commandments should not be supported by the taxes of those of us who believe differently or not at all. If display cannot be challenged successfully, then at least a compromise disclaimer should be added: "The existence of a Supreme Being is unknown and unknowable. It is a belief which does not have the benefit of evidence."
I ask my fellow (and sister) clergy to join me in challenging this legislation, and all future legislation of this type. I urge activism in the form of writing State legislators from your district, and to our Congresspersons and Senators in Washington. Letters to the editor of your local newspaper will also present the concerns of our Church to the reading public. You may consider running for local office; township or city commissions and school boards can be very influential. We may be apathetic about God, but his followers are another thing entirely.
Yours in Doubt,
Rev. Len Zanger
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan