It looks like Ohio will have to celebrate its bicentennial in 2003 without its longtime motto “With God All Things Are Possible.” A federal court ruled in April that the motto is tantamount to a state endorsement of Christianity and so violates the First Amendment.
A recent article in the New Yorker about the race for governor in Ohio declared that the November election would “test the power of the Christian right.” It was not the first article to examine the Republican candidate, Ken Blackwell, and his ties to the religious right. As Ohio’s secretary of state, Blackwell led the 2004 campaign against gay marriage in Ohio, helping put “Issue One,” as the gay marriage amendment was called, on the same ballot as presidential contenders George W. Bush and John Kerry. Voter turnout surged, and Ohio, that ever-wavering swing state, swung for Bush. (Some say Blackwell’s control of the election apparatus also played a part.)But an even more interesting religion story unfolding on Ohio’s campaign trail this fall involves Blackwell’s opponent, Ted Strickland, a United Methodist minister.
In June 2003, a group of evangelical Christian leaders met in Arlington, Virginia, to map strategy for a clash they viewed as the political equivalent of Gettysburg, the most significant battle ever fought on American soil.