The American Vision: A Biblical Worldview Ministry

It Might be Time to Sue Some Government Officials “In the Year of Our Lord” 2010

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“Seniors at a New Haven, Conn., high school will not be graduating ‘in the year of our Lord’ this year–or any future years, according to the superintendent of schools.” Fox News reported this story. It’s similar to one that was reported a few months ago when a Muslim student at Trinity University in San Antonio petitioned to have the words removed from diplomas. To the university’s credit, officials at the school decided to keep “in the year of our Lord.”

“It’s a religious thing,” Superintendent Reginald Mayo told the New Haven Register. “I’m surprised it took this long for someone to notice it. We certainly don’t want to offend anyone.”

Mayo is a public school Superintendent. He oversees teachers and schools. This includes history teachers who should know something about Connecticut history, the Connecticut Constitution, and the United States Constitution. They all need a history lesson, and it’s possible that Superintendent Mayo may have violated his oath of office by his action to remove “In the Year of Our Lord” from the school’s high school diplomas.

First, a history lesson. The Preamble to the Connecticut Constitution includes a number of interesting themes. It opens with these words: “The People of Connecticut acknowledging with gratitude, the good providence of God, in having permitted them to enjoy a free government . . .” God’s “providence” is referenced as the reason the people have a “free government.” I’m sure that some people would be offended that God is the source of freedom. So I guess removing God from the Connecticut Constitution is next on the Superintendent’s list of priorities. To be consistent for his students, he must do this.

The next phrase in the Preamble reads:  “in order more effectually to define, secure, and perpetuate the liberties, rights and privileges which they have derived from their ancestors.” Notice the reference to “their ancestors.” These ancestors would be those who first settled in Connecticut. We do have some idea what these ancestors believed. We can read their beliefs in the 1639 document they drafted, “The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut.” In it we find the following:

“For as much as it hath pleased Almighty God by the wise disposition of his divine providence. . .”

“[W]here a people are gathered together the word of God requires that to maintain the peace and union of such a people there should be an orderly and decent Government established according to God. . .”

[T]o maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess. . .”

The “ancestors” that made Connecticut possible as a free state were Christians. Does Superintendent Mayo know this history? Are the history teachers in New Haven teaching this history? Apparently not. Notice the word “providence.” It’s also found in the Preamble to the state’s current Constitution. The “word of God” is a reference to the Bible. “Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” is self-evident, especially when coupled with “In the Year of Our Lord” that used to appear on the diplomas of high school students in New Haven.

The Eleventh Article of Connecticut’s Constitution requires the following oath for office holders:

You do solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be) that you will support the constitution of the United States, and the constitution of the state of Connecticut, so long as you continue a citizen thereof; and that you will faithfully discharge, according to law, the duties of the office . . . to the best of your abilities. So help you God.

I don’t know if Superintendent Mayo was required to take this oath, but it is instructive in pointing out that both the State Constitution and the Federal Constitution must be supported. We’ve already seen how his ruling goes against the State Constitution on several points. But there is a Federal Constitution violation as well since the United States Constitution includes the following just above the signature of George Washington:

Done in convention by the unanimous consent of the states present the seventeenth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven and of the independence of the United States of America the twelfth.

For years, secularists have maintained that “the use of the word ‘Lord’ here is not a religious reference.” Consider what Superintendent Mayo said about the inclusion of “In the Year of Our Lord” in his districts high school diplomas: “It’s a religious thing.” Indeed it is. And since it’s a “religious thing” on high school diplomas, then it’s a “religious thing” in the Constitution. The Fox news story stated that “The American Humanist Association heralded the decision.” So now the AHA is going to have to admit that Jesus is in the Constitution and it’s not the no-god document the claim.

So what can be done? First, let’s give all the history teachers in New Haven a history test. Let’s include Superintendent Mayo as well. Maybe they should be contestants on “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?” Let’s test their knowledge on “The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, the Connecticut Constitution, and the United States Constitution. Second, let’s find out if Superintendent Mayo comes under the provision of being an “officer” and whether he took the oath to uphold the state and federal constitutions. Third, we need to determine if Alderwomen Ina Silverman also take the oath, since she was the one who filed the complaint with the mayor when her daughter was a student at Wilbur Cross High School. According to newspaper accounts, Silverman took her concerns to the mayor, who then asked the superintendent to remove the words. This means that we need to learn if the mayor took to the oath to uphold the state and federal constitutions.

One woman complains, and more than 300 year of American history is done away. It’s worse than 1984 because we see it all happening right before our eyes and we believe we’re powerless to do anything about. Is there anybody out there whole will take on these ignorant government officials?

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