God to be Engraved in Visitor Center

This post is by Jesse Galef, who works for the Secular Coalition for America.  He also blogs at Rant & Reason

Nothing says “Visitor Center” like excluding 15% of Americans in large, engraved letters:

House Committee Approves Engraving ‘In God We Trust’ in Capitol Visitor Center

The House Administration Committee has unanimously approved a resolution directing the Architect of the Capitol to engrave the National Motto — “In God We Trust” – and the Pledge of Allegiance inside the new Capitol Visitor Center (CVC).

Last September, [Senator] DeMint criticized the visitor center, which he said “generally ignores” the role of faith in the founding – and life – of the nation.

“There are a few articles in the CVC that reflect elements of faith — two Bibles, a picture of the congressional nondenominational faith space, and the oath of office — but I believe they grossly understate the prominent role of faith and Judeo Christian values in the history of this great building” he said in a statement,” he said.

I’ve never understood how a person could argue that using “In God We Trust” as a national motto is constitutional.  It rather bluntly establishes that the government acknowledges the existence of God, and believes that such a God is worthy of trust.

The best excuse (and quite bad, at that) is that such expressions are ceremonial deism – which Supreme Court Justice Brennan wrote in a dissent are “protected from Establishment Clause scrutiny chiefly because they have lost through rote repetition any significant religious content.”  He continued by saying:

Moreover, these references are uniquely suited to serve such wholly secular purposes as solemnizing public occasions, or inspiring commitment to meet some national challenge in a manner that simply could not be fully served in our culture if government were limited to purely nonreligious phrases.

That’s simply ridiculous.  I’ve been to enough Ethical Culture platforms to know that life can be significant and solemn on its own without invoking the supernatural.

We don’t even have to go back very far for examples – our original national motto was the brilliant “E Pluribus Unum”.

Personally, I’m pushing for “So Say We All” to become a common ceremonial expression.

Hemant adds: I had written something up after this was posted, so I’m deleting my posting and just adding on to Jesse’s post. Sorry for any confusion!

Take a look at H. Con. Res. 131:

Directing the Architect of the Capitol to engrave the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag and the National Motto of “In God We Trust” in the Capitol Visitor Center.

In other words, they’re Christianizing the Capitol.

While Republican Rep. Daniel Lungren is the sponsor of the bill, keep it mind it was unanimously approved by the House Administration Committee, made up of six Democrats and three Republicans.

“While the Capitol Visitor Center did a good job in incorporating many elements, I believe there are two important (items) that were absent — the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Motto ‘In God We Trust,’” Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) said Wednesday.

“I am pleased that this resolution remedies this oversight and incorporates those important parts of our national heritage into the CVC,” Lungren added.

Here’s what I wouldn’t mind seeing engraved: The original, though unofficial, motto of the U.S.: E pluribus unum (“Out of many, One”) and the original “Pledge of Allegiance” (sans “Under God”).

The resolution still has to pass through the House and the Senate… but it already has 89 co-sponsors — every single one of whom is Republican.

Let’s hope the Democrats can take a stand and keep the Capitol building religiously neutral.

(via seculardotorg)

"No, if you agree that the entire history of the universe could only have turned ..."

Legendary Physicist and Atheist Stephen Hawking ..."
"No, I gave the example of Christendom from the time the Roman Empire adopted christianity ..."

There’s a Problem With Your Religion ..."
"Falungong says it's hollow (maybe a spaceship?), so I guess they should compare notes."

This Pro-Muslim Video Attempts (and Fails) ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment