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Saturday, October 2, 2010

God at the Capitol Visitor Center

A report in The Huffington Post from the Religion News Service:

A federal judge has dismissed a suit arguing that engravings of "In God We Trust" and the Pledge of Allegiance at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center here are unconstitutional.

The suit by the Freedom From Religion Foundation was dismissed Wednesday (Sept. 29) by U.S. District Court Judge William Conley of Madison, Wis., due to lack of standing. He said the Wisconsin-based organization did not make a sufficient link between their taxpayer status and the money spent on the engravings that included the national motto and the words "under God" in the pledge.

"Any funds used by the government will necessarily result in the use of taxpayer money," Conley wrote.

The American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative Christian law firm that filed a brief on behalf of dozens of members of Congress seeking a rejection of the suit, hailed the decision.

"This challenge was another misguided attempt to alter history and purge America of religious references," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ, in a statement.

The Christian Examiner explains the background:

When it opened in December 2008, the $621 million underground center was void of any tribute to the nation’s religious heritage and incorrectly promoted the national motto as E Pluribus Unum, which means “Out of many, one.” While lacking in religious references, the 580,000-square-foot complex boasts numerous theaters, a gift shop and food. In addition to its permanent exhibits showcasing the role of Congress, the center has provided information on a variety of topics touting American culture and ingenuity, including information about Earth Day, industry and an AIDS rally, according to World Net Daily.

Seven months later, Congress ordered the two phrases to be installed at the center after numerous people, including U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, a Virginia Republican, California Rep. Dan Lungren, a Republican, U.S. Sen. Jim, DeMint, R-S.C., and actor Chuck Norris, a conservative activist, lobbied the legislature to add the phrases to the center citing their historical significance.

DeMint spoke about it on the Senate floor: