Flying under the radar, and literally under the ground of congressional bailout meetings, were closet Capitol Hill discussions about God and Washington, D.C. It seems another revision of America’s religious history has been under way – this time at the new $621 million, 580,000 square feet Capitol Visitor Center about to open in a couple months.
Eliminating or revising our Christian heritage seems to be in vogue these days at America’s historic sites. In 2006, tour guides at the Jamestown Settlement, the replica of the first (1607) English colony in America, were caught intentionally leaving out its Christian heritage when discussing the purpose for the colony. In early 2007, the government explained that the inscription “In God We Trust” was “accidentally left off” of the initial minting of the new presidential dollar coins, only to correct the mistake by placing the words on the very edge of the coins – and not until major public pressure was placed upon them did our Congress require the Treasury to place the words back upon the face. In mid 2007, the Architect of the Capitol removed any mention of God from the flag-folding ceremonies at veterans’ funerals and earlier attempted to remove “God” from congressional flag certificates. And in late 2007 the chaplain of my organization discovered someone in the hierarchy of the Washington Monument had deliberately altered its display of the capstone replica, so that the visiting public would have no idea the Latin words “Laus Deo” (meaning “Praise be to God”) were actually inscribed on the very top of the monument as a celebratory finish and dedication.
And now religious revisionism is popping up again in the new Capitol Visitor Center.
While most recent news media covered Tina Fey and Congress’ foolish financial bailouts, reporter Bob Unruh and WorldNetDaily were virtually alone in exposing this latest divine omission at the U.S. Capitol. This massive, largely underground museum of sorts (about three-quarters the size of the Capitol itself) will have exhibition galleries, theaters, a 550-seat cafeteria, gift shops, etc. But absent is anything that discusses our Christian or religious heritage. That is why Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., and the 108 congressional members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus recently petitioned the Architect of the Capitol by letter, which details and documents the incomplete and inaccurate religious content in the Capitol Visitor Center – also found in Sen. Jim DeMint’s, R-S.C., YouTube video “War on God”:
1. No mention of our national motto, “In God We Trust”;
2. In displaying images of the current speaker’s rostrum in the House chamber, the phrase “In God We Trust” is omitted from its location engraved in marble above the speaker’s head;
3. The opening words in Article 3 in the Northwest Ordinance (1787) are excluded from an exhibit. The actual article reads, “Art. 3. Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” The exhibit article reads: “Art. 3. … schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”
4. There are factual inaccuracies regarding church services held at the Capitol in early decades of our republic, saying they were held when Congress wasn’t in session, when in fact they were held year around – and even the so-labeled strict-separatist Thomas Jefferson attended them throughout his eight years of presidency.
5. The exhibits include photos from Earth Day, an AIDS rally, various casino grounds and factories, but it does not include photos from monumental religious events such as the National Day of Prayer or the March for Life event, attended by thousands annually, etc.
6. There is an absence of any major display or description of the religious influence within or about the 200-plus year history of the Capitol.
“Historical buildings like the Capitol Visitor Center are there to tell the story of our nation,” said Rep. Forbes. “When religious history is removed from these displays, the American public is not able to observe an accurate depiction of our nation’s story. We owe it to those who have gone before us and to our future generations to provide a complete representation of our nation’s heritage. We will continue to fight until this is achieved in the Capitol Visitor Center.”
Well, thanks to their passion and diligence, Rep. Forbes, his aides and the Congressional Prayer Caucus recently informed the public of some good news that “the Committee on House Administration and the Senate Rules and Administration Committee have agreed to include references to our nation’s religious history. … [they] have acknowledged this important part of our nation’s history and have agreed to correct the omission of historical religious content in the Capitol Visitor Center.”
The release also notes that “The Committee on House Administration and the Senate Rules and Administration Committee have agreed to the following changes to the Capitol Visitor Center:
That the phrase “Our Nation’s Motto” be removed from the plaque describing the engraving of E Pluribus Unum;
That “In God We Trust” be engraved in stone in a prominent location within the Capitol Visitor Center and that the panel describing the engraving include the proper recognition of this phrase as our national motto;
That the Pledge of Allegiance be engraved in stone in a prominent location within the Capitol Visitor Center.
“In addition, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee on House Administration have agreed to the research and development of a permanent religious history display, and have agreed to make every effort to ensure that the display is erected in the Capitol Visitor Center as soon as possible.”
In addition, the following paragraph comes from an authentic e-mail sent from the office of Architect of the Capitol (acquired from my chaplain’s research on revisionisms) in response to a protest to the Capitol Visitor Center’s religious omissions. Unfortunately, the e-mail makes it appear to the public as if they have included these religious facts all along, when Rep. Forbes and the 108 members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus know likewise, and now you do, too.
References to religion and faith are, in fact, included in the context of several historic exhibits and several religious items appear in the displays. Some examples include Article 3 of the Northwest Ordinance in its entirety; a copy of the Pledge of Allegiance and the prayer said at the opening of the current Congress; a copy of the Bible used to administer the oath of office to Senators until 1882; portraits of the first House and Senate chaplains; information about religious services regularly held in the Capitol in the 1800s, and an unaltered display of the U.S. Constitution highlighting the First Amendment which established our country’s right to the freedom of religion.
That’s a good start, but I believe We the People need to help keep the pressure on these officials to assure these revisionist rectifications. With some 15,000 expected guests daily, included among them thousands of children and students from across America, it is our duty to assure the preservation of our Capitol’s religious history in the Capitol Visitor Center. That is why I am encouraging Americans to write or call the Architect of the Capitol communications officer (202-228-1793 or email@example.com) and also tell their representatives, “Thanks for pledging to correct the religious omissions at the Capitol Visitor Center. We look forward to seeing the changes and the ‘permanent religious history display.’ And if it isn’t worthy of our Capitol and country’s Christian heritage, we’ll be back to protest until you get it right!”
Is it merely coincidental that so many acts of revisionism have occurred over the last couple years at governmental historical sites? Is it merely coincidental that the more modern memorials in Washington (like the Roosevelt and World War II memorials) bear virtually no religious inscriptions at all, while all the former ones do? Is it merely coincidental that liberal erasers are right now busy elsewhere in the country deleting our Judeo-Christian heritage for the sake of fully secularizing our nation’s past for future generations? Of course not. Friends, we must stop these revisionist travesties from taking one more step. We must preserve the fact that our founders weren’t creating a secular state but a sectarian-free state – and there is a huge difference.
America’s fathers wholeheartedly believed in the premise stated in Psalm 33:12, which says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” But what would they have thought of a nation that removes God from its heritage, classroom instructions, civic ceremonies, buildings, monuments, historic sites, etc.? I believe the words of Thomas Jefferson are as fitting for religious apostasy as they were for slavery, words that were inscribed upon his memorial in Washington, D.C., around 1940: “And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever. …”