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Cline says she is a Christian and, as such, is concerned with the eternal fate of the souls around her. "I describe myself as a person that loves everybody and everyone and as someone that is trying to make this world a better place to live in," she says.
Clines says that while listening to American Family Radio broadcasts, she heard about the posters. For a $30 donation, Cline received nine copies of the 11-by-14-inch posters from the American Family Association (AFA), which produces the AFR broadcasts. The AFA is a conservative Christian organization based in Tupelo, Miss. Its mission statement says that its members hope to "inspire and equip individuals to restore the moral foundations of American culture."
On the poster, the word "God" appears in a different color from the rest of the text. AFA president Don Wildmon states on the group's Web site that in developing the poster, "I got to thinking the other day about doing something which would give the ACLU fits and at the same time present a situation about which they could do nothing. In other words, accomplish the same goal as posting the Ten Commandments, but do it in a way which would be upheld in any unbiased court in the land."
Cline echoes Wildmon's sentiments in her letter to Schmidt and insists, "I am not taking those posters down. If I want to put them up, I will. I figured that no one would object to the motto that can be found on the very currency that I am mandated and obligated to collect."
A Democrat, Cline has served as Shawnee County Treasurer since 1988. She says she was raised in the Catholic Church but now is part of a Pentecostal congregation. "If we are Americans, we need to be loyal," she says. "When somebody tells me that they are not going to honor the flag or honor the national motto, it surprises me.
"I told (Schmidt), 'Aren't you an American citizen? I find it rather conflicting that you are refusing to honor the flag or the national motto; apparently you are not too patriotic.'"
Schmidt, however, does not equate patriotism and citizenship with her unwillingness to honor a flag she says flew over American troops who massacred Native Americans or a national motto that to her reflects a Judeo-Christian faith. Schmidt says she votes regularly, writes her congressmen, donates her Rh-negative blood six times a year, and hosts a "Clean Up Mother Earth Day" in Topeka's Gage Park on the Saturday before Mother's Day. "I am a very political person. My husband and I raised our daughters to be very political, to be involved in what's going on, and to pay attention to what is going on," she says.
Schmidt says she would be willing to fight for someone's right to choose what to believe. "Would you be willing to do the same for me?" she asks.
"Our boys did not die for that flag or a national motto. They died for the right to have freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom to think on your own and not have someone telling you what to think.
"I am involved in making a better country for our children, for their children. How much more patriotic can you be?"