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Atheists in the Capitol's Foxhole

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

I'm a fighter for the freedoms of speech and religion. They are our constitutional rights -- what the First Amendment is all about. But those freedoms don't give atheists the entitlement to eliminate or revise America's religious heritage in the new $621 million taxpayer-provided Capitol Visitor Center in Washington.

This month, the House and Senate passed identical resolutions approving the engravings of the national motto ("In God We Trust") and the Pledge of Allegiance in prominent places in the Capitol Visitor Center -- a 580,000-square-foot facility under the Capitol -- where 15,500 guests visit each day.

Spearheading the measures were Rep. Daniel Lungren, R-Calif., Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., and Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who are leaders who also have drawn attention to the oversight of religious heritage in the CVC. The YouTube video of Forbes addressing the House on this matter -- called "Our Judeo-Christian Nation" -- has received about 2.5 million hits to date, making it one of the most widely viewed floor speeches in YouTube history. Also, some of the 19 omissions and inaccuracies in the CVC can be seen on the YouTube posting called "War on God."

Engraving the motto and pledge in the CVC sounds so basic and reasonable, doesn't it? Apparently not to the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the nation's largest group of atheists and agnostics, which filed suit in an effort to prevent the engravings.

According to The Associated Press, the Freedom From Religion Foundation says its lawsuit is based upon the foundations that "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." (I guess that also transforms our coins and bills, which have "In God We Trust" on them, into Christian tracts?) How preposterous!

Some members of Congress who supported the measure are already denouncing the claims as ludicrous.

"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.

Lungren said he was expecting a lawsuit but called the claims "patently absurd."

And Forbes recently stated in an official memo from his offices: "This lawsuit sheds light on the lengths that a small minority will take to remove our nation's faith history from this generation and future generations of Americans. I, along with many Members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, intend to fight this unabashed and dangerous effort to silence our nation's history. Truly even our Pledge of Allegiance and our national motto are not spared from these efforts. Our Declaration of Independence states that our rights are 'endowed by our Creator.' If the plaintiffs in this lawsuit are successful, they will succeed not only in removing the history for which our fathers and founders sacrificed so much, but also in removing the very source our Founders believed provided our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

So, could the lawsuit prevail and prevent the engravings in the CVC? Are you kidding? Mark my words: If a few liberal judges get the case and we the people do nothing, it will. And then that precedent will be used to extend their next argument -- that our national motto, "In God We Trust," is unconstitutional.

That is why I am encouraging Americans to write or call the Architect of the Capitol's communications officer (202-228-1793 or and also their representatives to inform them about what they think of the engraved national motto and Pledge of Allegiance within the CVC. While you're at it, remind them that you, the taxpayer, paid for that $621 million facility and that you think some corner of its 580,000 square feet deserves to be dedicated to a permanent display of the Capitol's rich religious history.

Atheists might not be found in every foxhole, but the bunker called the Capitol Visitor Center has a couple of them in there right now. I think it's time that Americans let them know not only that the motto and pledge are at the heart of our country but also that whitewashing God from the walls of history is actually an unfair promotion of atheism and an injustice to all that is America.

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