Republicans have criticized the center for what they view as insufficient coverage of American religious heritage. Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina said that the CVC fails to "appropriately honor our religious heritage that has been critical to America's success." Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has begun a petition seeking to more prominently recognize religion at the Center. [SOURCE]So California Republican, Congressman Dan Lungren has picked up the flag of religion, and put forth a resolution that goes against the First Amendment of the Constitution.
Before the August recess, a resolution will be voted on by the House of Representatives that will require the Architect of the Capitol to engrave the words "In God We Trust" and the post-1954 Pledge of Allegiance onto the walls of the Capitol Visitor Center (CVC). References to religion and faith are already included in several of the permanent exhibits, and the words "In God We Trust" are even present in one such exhibit. But that's not enough for Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA) who is pushing for a larger, bolder display.The resolution is labeled "H. Con. Res. 131" and titled "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." Summary information can be found here; and the full text can be found here.
Building the Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) has already cost American taxpayers millions of dollars and serves as the entrance point for visitors who wish to tour the Capitol. It was built to teach visitors about our nation’s history and the construction of the Capitol Building, not to promote religion. Since it was not until the 1950s that "under God" was added to the Pledge and "In God We Trust" replaced "E Pluribus Unum" as the national motto, these phrases should have no place in the Center.Not only does Rep. Dan Lungren want to further violate the First Amendment with a misconceived view of this country's founding; but he wants to spend thousands of our tax dollars to do it.
The nation's largest group of atheists and agnostics filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to block an architect from engraving "In God We Trust" and the Pledge of Allegiance at the Capitol Visitor Center in Washington. The Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation's lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in western Wisconsin, claims the taxpayer-funded engravings would be an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.
The House and Senate passed identical resolutions this month directing the Architect of the Capitol to engrave "In God We Trust" and the pledge in prominent places at the entrance for 3 million tourists who visit the Capitol each year.
The resolution came in response to critics who complained Congress spent $621 million on the new three-story underground center without paying respect to the nation's religious heritage. The center opened in December after years of construction.
The foundation is seeking a court order to stop the engravings, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will cost less than $100,000.
"In God We Trust" has been the national motto since 1956 and has appeared on U.S. currency since 1957.
The lawsuit says both the motto and the words "under God" in the pledge were adopted during the Cold War as anti-communism measures. Engraving them at the entrance to the U.S. Capitol would discriminate against those who do not practice religion and unfairly promote a Judeo-Christian perspective, it says.
Members of Congress who supported the measure swiftly denounced the lawsuit.
"This lawsuit is another attempt by liberal activists to rewrite history and deny that America's Judeo-Christian heritage is an essential foundation stone of our great nation," said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa.
Rep. Daniel Lungren, R-Calif., said he was expecting a lawsuit but called the claims "patently absurd."
The foundation also is challenging the constitutionality of the National Day of Prayer in federal court.