Thursday, December 11, 2008

Scrubbing history

It seems to be a struggle to get the government to acknowledge the actual part religion has had in American history, much less keep the public square open to those whose political views are affected by their religious convictions. David Waters in "God Bless America", at the Washington Post's On Faith blogsite, recounts some of the battles:
.... Take the new $621 million capitol Visitor Center, which opened this week to mixed reviews. Among the critics were Sen. Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican who several weeks ago noticed that something was missing from a center's replica of the House Speaker's rostrum. The words "In God We Trust" - engraved over the actual rostrum in 1962 - were not included in the replica.

The center identified "E. Pluribus Unum" (rather than "In God We Trust") as the official national motto. Displays deleted these words from Article 3 of the Northwest Ordinance; "Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind..."; and the words "in the Year of Our Lord" from Article 7 of the Constitution.

DeMint and dozens of other congressmen objected and the deleted phrases were restored. ....

DeMint and other concerned evangelicals say this is only the latest in a series of attempts to erase God from public life in Washington.
  • Neither the World War II Memorial (2004) nor the FDR Memorial (1997) - Washington's two newest monuments - contain references to God. The WWII memorial includes a God-related quote from Eisenhower's D-Day message, but it ends just before the general seeks "the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking."
  • In 2007, a replica of the Washington Monument's aluminum cap, on display inside the monument, recently was turned so that the words "Laus Deo" (Latin for 'Praise be to God') were no longer visible to vistors. After receiving 28,000 email complaints, the National Park Service said it was a simple mistake and they'd turn it back.
  • In 2007, after protests from House Republican Leader John Boehner and others, the Office of the Architect of the Capitol reversed its stated policy of removing references to God or religion from certificates that were given to citizens along with flags flown ceremonially over the Capitol.
  • The new John Quincy Adams Presidential Dollar, released earlier this year, contained the words "In God We Trust" along the edge of the coin rather than on its face. After receiving many complaints, the U.S. Mint announced that the motto will appear on the heads side of the 2009 Adams dollars.
FDR talked publicly about God as much as any president. Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Churchill and other leaders delivered public prayers during World War II. Nearly every major public building and monument in Washington has at least one reference to God.

Separation of church and state is vital to our liberty. But trying to scrub from American history or public life every reference to God or faith isn't just silly. It's inaccurate and misleading.
Under God: God Bless America - On Faith at

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