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!
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The House and Senate both passed the resolution.
Lawsuit seeks to block 'In God We Trust' engraving