CHURCH AND STATE
Public outcries can have positive results. Such is the case in this story. Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly likes to call these sort of battles part of a “culture war”. I believe there’s more to it than that…I believe it’s part of a spiritual battle that goes on every day whether some people recognize it or not.
This from FOXNews:
WASHINGTON — 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.”
Note: The U.S. Capitol Flag program lets you order a flag to be flown at the Capitol building for the dates you request and with a special inscription. You go to any congressman’s site and they have a text link: “Obtain a Flag Flown Over the U.S. Capitol”. Prices start at $9 and vary according to size of flag.
Here is what one congressman says on his site:
My office can provide you with an American flag flown over the U.S. Capitol. This makes a perfect gift to commemorate a birthday, holiday, or other notable occasion. Flags are available in either nylon or cotton and come in sizes from 3’x5′ to 5’x8′. All flags flown over the Capitol are made in America.