This Week In God: Conservatives Attack the Capital
First up from the God Machine this week is a church-state story that we've been following, about the ongoing complaints about the new visitor center that opened in December on Capitol Hill.
Some religious right activists and far-right lawmakers, led in large part by South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint (R), are outraged that the visitor center is largely secular. For example, near the center's entrance, there's an engraving: "We have built no temple but the Capitol. We consult no common oracle but the Constitution." The quote comes from Rufus Choate, who served in the House and Senate in the 1830s, and DeMint described the quote as "offensive."
This week, Roll Call reported that some GOP lawmakers are pushing a bill that would spend $150,000 in taxpayer money to etch a reference to "In God We Trust" as the national motto into stone, and placed prominently in the Capitol Visitor Center.
"There are number of references or appropriate religious references in the Capitol Visitor Center, but this is something I think is important," said Rep. Dan Lungren (Calif.), the bill's lead sponsor and the top Republican on the House Administration Committee. "We do have 'In God We Trust' over the rostrum in the House ... [and] it has a relationship to the Founding Fathers' documents."
Actually, Lungren's wrong; "In God We Trust" doesn't appear in any of the "Founding Fathers' documents." Literally, not one. In fact, the nation's founders chose "e pluribus unum" as a national motto -- a reference to the nation's unique diversity -- and Lungren, the Heritage Foundation, and other conservatives want references to it replaced.
Lungren's bill, submitted last Wednesday, currently has four co-sponsors in the House. Expect that number to grow.
Also from the God Machine this week: