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anti-God attitude keeps peeking through

     Note: I know that the following isn’t a homeschooling issue, but I thought that a lot of homeschool families might be concerned about it. If it is a subject that you are interested in and haven’t been following the news on this matter, here’s some material about it that I’ve collected and put together.

Capitol Flag Policy Assailed

By Audrey Hudson (Washington Times, October 6, 2007)

     A group of Republican lawmakers is demanding the architect of the U.S. Capitol reverse a policy that bans the use of the word "God" on flag certificates sent to constituents.

     Rep. Michael R. Turner of Ohio said one of his constituents, Paul Larochelle, recently requested to receive a flag that had flown over the Capitol. Mr. Larochelle’s son had hoped to present the flag and the accompanying certificate to his grandfather, an Army veteran.

     The Larochelles wanted the certificate’s inscription to read, in part: "In honor of my grandfather, Marcel Larochelle, and his dedication and love of God, country and family." However, when the flag and the certificate arrived at Mr. Turner’s office from the architect of the U.S. Capitol’s office, which handles the Capitol flag program, the word "God" had been eliminated.

     Mr. Turner said he requested an explanation from the architect’s office, which cited one of its 14 Flag Office Services rules. The rule states, "… religious expressions are not permitted on flag certificates."

     Mr. Turner — along with fellow Republican Reps. Steve King of Iowa, Marilyn Musgrave of Colorado, Randy Neugebauer of Texas and Steve Pearce of New Mexico — complained in a letter this week to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that the architect’s office had "informed several congressional offices that the use of the word ‘God’ violates the rule."

     "This is an abuse of power, plain and simple," Mr. Neugebauer said. "Using the nonpartisan position of maintaining the Capitol to decide what citizens can have written on their flag certificates is unacceptable."

     Stephen T. Ayers has been acting architect of the U.S. Capitol since February, when his predecessor, Alan M. Hantman, retired. Mr. Ayers’ spokeswoman was unavailable for comment yesterday.

     The lawmakers are asking Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, to review the authority under which the architect’s office made the rules and that the policy "which censors our citizens’ right to expressions of their faith" be reversed.

     They also point out that as the custodian of the Capitol, the architect is responsible for a building inscribed with many religious references, including "In God We Trust" in the House and Senate chambers.

     "The architect’s policy is in direct conflict with his charge as well as the scope of his office and brings into question his ability to preserve a building containing many national religious symbols," the lawmakers stated.

     A spokesman for Mrs. Pelosi said a Democratic proposal may help solve the problem.

     The proposal would have the architect certify that the flag was flown, and then a member of Congress could add the constituent’s message separately, Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly said.

     "It will be resolved in the near future," he said.

     Lawmakers receive more than 100,000 requests from constituents each year for flags that have flown over the Capitol.

Religious Words Banned by Architect of the U. S. Capitol

Donald E. Wildmon (American Family Association; Tue., Oct., 9, 2007)

     According to U.S. Representative Marilyn Musgrave, our nation’s legislators are now prohibited from using references to God in certificates of authenticity accompanying flags flown over the Capitol and bought by constituents. Such references include: "under God" in the pledge, "God bless you," or "in the year of our Lord, 2007." Never before has this official prohibition been leveled.

    Architect of the Capitol Steven Ayers said he has removed the words because reference to God and the Lord may offend some Americans. He now prohibits them from being placed on official documents such as flag certificates.

    Musgrave was astonished when she flew a flag over the U.S. Capitol building as a tribute to a senior citizen, and the accompanying certificate she received was edited with all religious references removed.

     The congresswoman was more astounded when, upon further investigation, she discovered the certificate was censored by order of The Architect of the Capitol, an unelected very low-level official who manages the flag office.

     Responding to a request for a flag flown over the United States Capitol in honor of a World War II veteran’s 81st birthday, the congresswoman ordered the flag and a certificate to state: "This flag was flown for Mr. John Doe on the occasion of his 81st birthday, the eleventh day of July, in the year of our Lord, 2007. Thank you, Grandpa, for showing me what it is to be a true patriot — to love God, family, and country. We love you!"

     When the flag and certificate came back from the flag office, each reference to the Lord and God were removed. A group of lawmakers confronted architect Stephen Ayers seeking to find where he had the authority to restrict their freedom of speech and religious expression. Ayers refused to give the lawmakers a clear justification of his authority to delete the religious references.

Scout Denied Mention of God in Flag Certificate

By Steve Elliot (Grassfire.org Alliance, 10/10/2007)

     Lawmakers are circulating a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, objecting to the U.S. Capitol’s architect not allowing "God" to be mentioned in certificates of authenticity accompanying flags flown over the Capitol, and bought by constituents.

     Grassfire learned that 138 Congressmen have already added their name to the letter, calling on the Speaker to immediately "review the authority under which the architect is making these rules, as well as reverse the policy that censors our citizens’ right to expressions of their faith."

     According to the Midland Daily News, the policy was disturbingly highlighted when a 17 year-old Eagle Scout was denied his request to have a certificate read, "This flag was flown in honor of Marcel Larochelle, my grandfather, for his dedication and love of God, country and family."

     A spokesman in Rep. Dave Camp’s (R-MI) office told Grassfire that these censorship incidents have been escalating with the Democratic controlled Congress, adding, "The U.S. House of Representatives can pass a resolution recognizing the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, but we can’t send out certificates with the word ‘God’ on them. It’s outrageous."

Pelosi Defends Refusal to Put "God" on Flag Certificates

Sabrina Eaton (Cleveland Plain Dealer, Oct. 09, 2007)

     House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today defended the Architect of the Capitol’s refusal to permit use of the word "God" on official certificates enclosed with flags flown over the U.S. Capitol.

     Dayton-area GOP Rep. Michael Turner and more than 100 of his Republican colleagues sent a letter to Pelosi last week after an Eagle Scout in his district asked that a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol be sent to his grandfather with a certificate inscribed with the message: "In honor of my grandfather Marcel Larochelle, and his dedication and love of God, country, and family."

     The boy and his father contacted Turner’s office after noticing the word "God" was left off the certificate included with the flag. Outraged upon learning that the acting Architect of the Capitol, Stephen T. Ayers, won’t allow religious expressions on flag certificates, Turner sent a protest letter to Pelosi.

     "The Architect’s policy prohibiting "God" from appearing on certificates for flags flown over the U.S. Capitol puts at risk our religious freedoms and heritage," said the letter, which also was signed by Ohio Republican Reps. Steve LaTourette of Bainbridge Township, Patrick Tiberi of Genoa, Jim Jordan of Urbana, Steve Chabot of Cincinnati and Jean Schmidt of Miami Township. "The Architect’s policy is in direct conflict with his charge, as well as the scope of his office and brings into question his ability to preserve a building containing many national religious symbols."

     Asked about the issue today at a press luncheon, Pelosi said the architect’s policy was adopted because "people were asking for statements that not only were religious, beyond using the word God, but political as well." She said the official policy is to send a certificate that lists nothing beyond the date the flag flew over the Capitol and the name of its recipient. She said that members of Congress who request flags on behalf of constituents can "add whatever they wish" to the certificates, "whether it is a political statement or a religious statement."

     "It’s not about being anti-religion," Pelosi said, noting that each day in the Capitol starts with a prayer. "It is just about what the architect thought was appropriate for him to proclaim in a certificate."

     Turner said Tuesday that he will continue seeking more signatures for his letter asking Pelosi to overturn the policy, and "if the speaker and the architect continue to implement their censorship program, we will drop legislation to compel the architect to return to granting inscriptions permitting the acknowledgement of God."

     He said members of Congress vet the appropriateness of messages constituents request with the flags, and their discretion should be sufficient.

     "We have the responsibility for these common sense issues that might arise with flag inscriptions and this one is basic," Turner said. "The architect has decided the word ‘God’ is offensive. This rule should not be allowed to stand."

Nation’s Top Democrat Defends Banning God

By Donald Wildmon (American Family Association, Oct. 11, 2007)

     The nation’s number one Democrat, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, is defending the banning of religious references on certificates issued by the Architect of the Capitol.

     An Eagle Scout asked that a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol be sent to his grandfather, along with a certificate bearing the message: "In honor of my grandfather Marcel Larochelle, and his dedication and love of God, country, and family."

     Stephen Ayers, the Architect of the Capitol, banned the use of the word "God" in the certificate issued for the Eagle Scout. Ayers, serving in a low-level, non-elected position, claims he has the authority to ban the word "God" from the certificate. This is the first time ever for the Architect of the Capitol to ban religious references. Ayers said he banned the word "God" because someone might be offended.

     Pelosi defended Ayers’ decision to ban all religious references. Several legislators signed a letter to Pelosi asking that Ayers’ censorship be stopped. "The Architect’s policy is in direct conflict with his charge, as well as the scope of his office and brings into question his ability to preserve a building containing many national religious symbols," the legislators said in the letter.

     Instead of stopping the censorship, Pelosi defended it. "It’s not about being anti-religion," Pelosi said. "It is just about what the Architect thought was appropriate for him to proclaim in a certificate." By saying such, Pelosi approved the banning of religious references by Ayers.

More News about Banning the Word "God"

By Steve Elliot of Grassfire.org Alliance (10/12 /2007)

     Only days ago, Grassfire sounded the alarm after learning that the Capitol Architect refused to allow "God" to be mentioned in certificates of authenticity accompanying flags flown over the Capitol, and bought by constituents.

     In a statement reported by FoxNews.com, the Capitol Architect, Stephen T. Ayers said "The Architect’s role is to certify that flags are appropriately flown over the U.S. Capitol, and any messages on the flag certificates are personal and between a Member of Congress and his or her constituents."

     Read the full report: http://www.firesociety.com/forum/thread/18476/?src=111 .

     This is a tremendous victory for everyone who took action with us to reverse a policy that censored citizen’s rights to freely express their faith.

     Although we don’t have exact phone counts, Grassfire estimates that thousands of team members called Congressional offices over the last few days expressing concern over the policy and desire to see a change.

     [Editor’s note: The http://www.firesociety.com item had the following announcement and had a link to the Fox News article below. WSW.]

     The Architect of the Capitol, responding to a public outcry, ruled Thursday that, from now on, the word "God" may be inscribed on certificates accompanying flags that have flown over the U.S. Capitol.

     Read the Full FoxNews.com story here.

Capitol Architect Lets "God" Fly on U. S. Flag Certificates

Thursday , October 11, 2007 (FOX News’ Major Garrett contributed to this report)

     The Architect of the Capitol, responding to a public outcry, ruled Thursday that, from now on, the word "God" may be inscribed on certificates accompanying flags that have flown over the U.S. Capitol.

     Acting Architect Stephen T Ayers said in a statement that the policy of disallowing political and religious statements on flag certificates has been inconsistently applied and does not fulfill the objectives of the office.

     "It is inappropriate and beyond the scope of this agency’s responsibilities to censor messages from members," Ayers said.

     "The Architect’s role is to certify that flags are appropriately flown over the U.S. Capitol, and any messages on the flag certificates are personal and between a Member of Congress and his or her constituents," Ayers said.

     "The Office of the Architect of the Capitol is a service organization. Flying the flags over the Capitol is an important constituent service for Members of Congress. When one of our services or policies doesn’t effectively serve Members of Congress or the American public, it needs to be changed immediately," he added.

     The issue gained widespread attention this week after 17-year-old Andrew Larochelle of Dayton, Ohio, inquired to his congressman, Rep. Michael Turner, why the personal inscription he requested to go with his flag was censored.

     The message — to accompany a flag he had bought from Congress for $9 to be flown over the U.S. Capitol in honor of his grandfather Marcel LaRochelle — read: "In honor of my grandfather Marcel Larochelle, and his dedication and love of God, country and family."

     The flag flew on Sept. 11, Marcel Larochelle’s birthday. But when Andrew finally received the flag in the mail on Sept. 30, "God" was taken out of his note.

     Andrew said he was surprised God’s name had been omitted and couldn’t understand why his free speech rights had been infringed. The Eagle Scout said he included God in his dedication because his grandfather is "very devoted to his faith."

     "His faith life is just very vital to him, he is very God-centered and relies on God whenever he needs strength," Andrew told FOX News. "Without God in the certificate, it’s almost like taking a piece of him away."

     After Andrew inquired about the exclusion, Turner requested an explanation from Ayers and was told that the rules, which have been in practice since the 1970s but only codified in writing since 2003, don’t allow religious expressions on flag certificates.

     Turner and other House Republicans complained that the Capitol has many religious expressions and Congress begins each day with a prayer. They also noted that the message wasn’t written by Congress but by one private citizen to another private citizen.

     "This practice, which overturns a longstanding and long-cherished congressional tradition, has rightly drawn outrage from the American people, who have grown weary of endless attempts by politicians and bureaucrats to bar the word God and even the most tacit references to faith from our public institutions," House Minority Leader John Boehner wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday.

     To compromise, Rep. Robert A. Brady, chairman of the House Administration Committee, which oversees the Architect of the Capitol’s office, had suggested allowing a uniform certificate of authenticity and then giving each congressional member the latitude to handle personal inscriptions.

     On Thursday Pelosi, who had defended Ayers’ decision, said she did not try to influence his repeal.

    "I don’t think the architect’s office should be in the role of censoring what members want to say on those documents … and I spoke earlier to the minority leader about this issue and said that it was my understanding that the architect’s office was going to put forth this statement," Pelosi said. "I think they, the architect’s office, came to their own conclusion."

      But that didn’t sit well with many lawmakers, who said the job of operating the flag certificate program lies with the Architect’s office. On Thursday, Ayers said after reviewing the rules, he concluded that they were inconsistently applied and should be changed.

     "I have directed that the policy be changed and that new guidelines be reissued immediately," he said. "I appreciate the Congress bringing this important issue to my attention, and I appreciate their support as we worked to resolve this situation to everyone’s satisfaction," said Ayers.

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