[UPDATED] Thousands of Tax Payer Dollars to Add Engraving to Capitol Visitor Center

How irresponsible and wasteful! No matter which side of the political teater-totter you sit on, most of us aren't happy with the current financial situation; both in the economy and in the government. I'm no financial whiz, but I know that right now the government should not be spending thousands (or more likely tens of thousands) of dollars of tax payer money to add a few engravings to the United States Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) (Wikipedia Entry | Official Site).

Construction of the CVC started in 2000, and was completed and opened to the public in December 2008. The CVC provides a central hub for tourists visiting the capitol; on average 8000 people visit the capitol per day and you can bet most of them go through the CVC. The CVC is an addition to the United States Capitol and also serves as expansion space for the US Congress.
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.

So they are complaining that the CVC does not include the religious heritage (aka: the religious founding) of the United States. Even though several of the exhibits include references to the religion and faith of the United States. Even though the current exhibits creep close to violation of the First Amendment, they want to add the national motto, and the most recent version of the Pledge of Allegiance. Both of which are not part of the founding of the United States; and both of which directly violate the First Amendment.

The Pledge of Allegiance was not even written until 1892, one-hundred-sixteen years after the founding. The original version did not include "under God" - that was not added until 1954, only fifty-five years ago. "In God We Trust" was not made the official motto until 1956, fifty-three years ago.
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 Secular Coalition for America has a ready-to-go-letter that you can send to your representative. Let them know you think this is a poor use of tax-payer money, and does not uphold the separation of church and state.

TAKE ACTION NOW!

+++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++
UPDATE

The House and Senate both passed the resolution.

Lawsuit seeks to block 'In God We Trust' engraving
By RYAN J. FOLEY – July 14, 2009
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.

Views: 2

Tags: Pledge-of-Allegiance, Separation-of-Church-and-State, in-god-we-trust, motto, pledge, socas, tax-money, tax-payer-money, under-god

Comment by Reggie on June 26, 2009 at 6:44am
The Secular Coalition for America has a ready-to-go-letter that you can send to your representative.

Here is the linky!

Have at it. Having your voice heard on the internets is all fine and dandy, but make sure you buzz loudly in your reprsentative's ear, too.
Comment by Dave G on June 26, 2009 at 12:44pm
I've written my Congressman about this (courtesy of the SCA's ready-built letter). Up and at-em, folks!
Comment by James on June 26, 2009 at 5:18pm
I did the same as Dave and mailed them, using the SCA's letter.
Comment by Aric on June 26, 2009 at 11:47pm
I too emailed my congressman.
Comment by Johnny on July 11, 2009 at 4:33pm
Lookout if you're in Georgia!!

Via a friend's post on Facebook:
ATTN Georgia Residents: A fellow Facebook friend of mine wrote to Representative Phil Gingrey regarding the new proposed religious display in the Capitol Visitor's Center in Washington, DC. The proposal is a waste of tax-payer's dollars and more than likely a violation of the Establishment Clause.

Representative Gingrey responded,

"Thank you for contacting me to express your opinion regarding religious expression in the Capitol Visitors Center (CVC). As your Congressman, I appreciate hearing your thoughts and welcome every opportunity to be of service.

Our founding fathers created this country based upon the principle of "freedom of religion," not freedom from religion. Furthermore, almost every state in the union has chosen to acknowledge God within their state constitution. At the present time, numerous countries restrict or prohibit their citizens from worshiping as they choose; our nation should remain the example of religious freedom throughout the world."

If you reside in Georgia, please take the time to enlighten Congressman Gingrey about why freedom of religion requires freedom from religion. Please also take the time to explain to him that our people being able to worship freely is not infringed when our government does not worship. The "people" did not want to put up religious items - a government official did.
Comment by Johnny on July 15, 2009 at 11:41am
UPDATE

The House and Senate both passed the resolution.

Lawsuit seeks to block 'In God We Trust' engraving
By RYAN J. FOLEY – July 14, 2009
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.
Comment by Jess on July 15, 2009 at 1:54pm
Another point for Ron Paul. He voted against it. Too bad he was only one of 8.
Comment by James on July 15, 2009 at 3:15pm
How can they pass that? Not only is it wasteful, but it's in direct violation of the Constitution. Just goes to show you that personal opinion and their own gains are all our representatives seem to care about anymore...
Comment by Gaytor on July 16, 2009 at 1:37am
What isn't noted often is that God only refers to the Christian version of the Abrahamic god. The religious right touts the Judeo-Christian Heritage, but remains ignorant on the subject. Jews officially refere to god as Yaweh. In writing they refer to him and YWH as this keeps his name from being spoken. When speaking to Gentiles they will refer to God, but spell it Gd.
In God we trust only refers to a Christian god and therefore is a clear establishment of religion. This issue goes well beyond 1954. It's been proposed over and over historically. Roosevelt called Paine a
filthy little atheist" , but when it came to public policy, he had this to say about In God We Trust as a motto... "My own feeling in the matter is due to my very firm conviction that to put such a motto on coins, or to use it in any kindred manner, not only does no good but does positive harm, and is in effect irreverence, which comes dangerously close to sacrilege... it seems to me eminently unwise to cheapen such a motto by use on coins, just as it would be to cheapen it by use on postage stamps, or in advertisements."

While I wouldn't hesitate to denigrate any god, His point is clear and I wish more would adopt that position.

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