Oklahoma pastor's lawsuit over car tag was bound to happen

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: June 13, 2013

The six crosses on the Oklahoma state flag are from an image that also graced state vehicle license plates until another Indian symbol replaced it. The crosses were graphic representations of stars rather than Christian symbology. Thus, the former tag's crosses weren't seen as an unlawful admixture of church and state.

The new tag image, called “Sacred Rain Arrow,” is being challenged in court by a Methodist minister who believes it's unconstitutional to make him display a tag containing religious symbology. This could be written off as straining at a gnat, but federal appellate judges are accustomed to weighing such matters.

An overarching concern about this image of archery is that religious symbols shouldn't be put in the same quiver with cultural symbols. Is “Sacred Rain Arrow” an example of Native American culture or an overtly religious symbol? The courts will decide and the nation is watching — including the losing side in cases involving removal of the Christian cross from the Edmond city seal and Ten Commandments monuments from public spaces.

Ceremonies marking the start of work on the American Indian Culture Center and Museum in 2005, a publicly funded project, included a “ground-blessing.” Seems appropriate for an Indian museum, but the same thing happened two years later at a botanical gardens groundbreaking in Tulsa, a project also involving public funds.

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