WASHINGTON — A California Republican congressman wants to do a little writing on the walls of Washington's newest federal building. If Rep. Dan Lungren gets his way, Congress will spend nearly $100,000 to engrave the words "In God We Trust " and the Pledge of Allegiance in prominent spots at the Capitol Visitor Center .

Lungren's proposal drew only a whimper of opposition last week when the House of Representatives voted 410-8 to approve it. Now, however, Lungren finds himself tussling with a national atheists and agnostics group.

The Wisconsin -based Freedom From Religion Foundation Inc. sued this week to stop the engraving, accusing Lungren of trying to force his religious beliefs on as many as 15 percent of all U.S. adults. That comprises "atheists, agnostics, skeptics and freethinkers, none of whom possess a belief in a god," according to the lawsuit.

"It really is a Judeo-Christian endorsement by our government, and so Lungren is wrong," said Dan Barker of Madison, Wis. , a co-president of the foundation. "Lungren and others are pro-religious, and they want to actually use the machinery of government to promote their particular private religious views. That is unconstitutional, and that's what we're asking the court to decide."

The Senate has approved a similar plan introduced by Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina . The congressional directive orders the Capitol architect to make the changes in the design of the $621 million center, which opened last December.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation , which has 13,500 members, sued in U.S. District Court in Wisconsin . It alleges that Congress is trying to make belief in God synonymous with citizenship and "discouraging nonbelief" among Americans, a contention that Lungren rejects.

Lungren said that the phrase "In God We Trust " had a long history and was consistent with the beliefs of America's founding fathers. He also said that the Declaration of Independence referred to rights given by a creator.

Lungren, a former California attorney general, said that while the proposed engravings incorporated religious references, they didn't violate the Constitution.

"What we're doing is making a specific historical reference to the beginnings of this republic," he said. "To ignore this or to forbid this statement or something like it to appear is to distort history. . . . We're not trying to change history. We're trying to enshrine history in the Capitol Visitor Center ."

Barker said history was better left to others.

"It's not the job of our government and our government buildings to do that," he said. "Historians can point out that many of our founders were indeed religious. But saying 'In God We Trust' in the visitors center of the Capitol is not just some historical reference. It's actually government speaking for all of us Americans."

Barker said the foundation had been waiting for the right case to challenge "In God We Trust ." He said government actions could be challenged on state-church grounds if they had specific religious agendas. In this case, he said, backers of Lungren's plan have provided "the smoking guns" by giving specific, overt religious reasons for doing the engraving.

Barker said that atheists regarded the phrase "In God We Trust " as rude, uncivil and un-American.

"Tens of millions of really good Americans don't believe in God," he said. "In fact, there's many more nonbelievers than there are Jews, and we wouldn't think of offending Jews on our national monuments. . . . Why is it wrong to offend a Jewish minority but it's not wrong to offend those of us who serve in the military and sit on juries but we don't believe in God?"

He said no hearing had been set.

Lungren is confident that a federal judge will allow the engraving to proceed.

"I never thought I'd see the day when someone would sue to stop us putting in the United States Capitol a statement of the national motto and the Pledge of Allegiance," he said. "Suggesting that the Pledge of Allegiance and the national motto is un-American in some way — talk about turning ideas on their heads." Via: Yahoo

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Those of us who trust in God do not need to see those words emblazoned on public walls. Those of use who do not trust in God do not want to see those words anywhere.

Give the $100,000 to the poor. It is what Jesus would have done.

The founding fathers made a clear statement about the separation of church and state. Congress cannot use the founding father's religious views as an excuse to put a religious phrase in a government building. The founding fathers firmly stated that religion and state should be separated. Once again the republicans are bending and twisting the Constitution to get their way.

Finally, imagine if it said "In Allah we trust." Would most Americans look the other way then?
"In Allah we trust." good example.
This is the kicker for me, "Suggesting that the Pledge of Allegiance and the national motto is un-American in some way — talk about turning ideas on their heads."
The changes made to the pledge and the motto were certainly un-American.
And I'd love for our motto to return to the original. E Pluribus Unum' is so much more meaningful to the country as a whole, and historically, than In God We (Don't) Trust.
This irked the crap out of me when the foundation made me aware of this. I know it's semi-old news to some people & to myself but to think they, the blasted representatives that some of us as atheist elected would support this pisses me the fuck off. At least we know that Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA 13th) was one of the against votes. I'm proud of that man for standin' up for his disbelief's.
I'm glad that the Freedom from Religion Foundation is fighting this inscription, but Congress's reaction is hardly surprising. The Republicans desperately need an issue right now, and when they are down politically, they frequently stir up cultural wars. With the health care overhaul in the offing and cowboy capitalism on the defensive, my guess is that Lungren and his allies were goading the Democrats into a fight--one in which most Americans, sadly, would side with the Republicans. The Democrats' response was, as it often is, weak, but with all of the other legislation on their agenda right now, I can understand why they opted out of this battle. I just hope that the Freedom from Religion group can win their suit in the Bush-packed courts.
The Republican party has pretty much been irrevocably taken over by the evangelical religious right. Any 'old style' Republicans frankly ought to leave the party and form a new one, leaving the Republican party to dwindle and die. It's not the first time a political party has died, anyone voted Whig lately? Or SIlver?

It would take decades, if it is even possible, for the Republican party to shed its reputation as the anti-intelligence, pro-Christian Dominion party.

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