More than 40 Republicans have signed a legal brief opposing a lawsuit that aims to remove the engravings of “In God We Trust— and the Pledge of Allegiance from the walls of the Capitol Visitor Center.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation — the nation’s largest group of atheists and agnostics — filed the lawsuit in July, soon after Congress passed a bill approving the engravings. The project, they claim, is unconstitutional because Congress is using taxpayer money to endorse religion.
But in their amicus brief, the Members argue that “In God We Trust— and the Pledge “accurately reflect the historical fact that this nation was founded upon a belief in God.— The friend-of-the-court brief also calls the lawsuit a “crusade— that “serves no purpose other than to waste judicial resources at a time in our Nation’s history when those resources are needed in cases involving real threats to American liberties.—
“The words of both the motto and the Pledge echo the conviction held by this Nation’s Founders that our freedoms come from God,— the brief states. “Congress codified In God We Trust’ as our national motto for the express purpose of reaffirming America’s unique history and understanding of this truth, and to distinguish America from atheistic nations who recognize no higher authority than the State.—
The debate over whether religion should be included in the CVC began shortly after the underground building opened its doors on Dec. 2, 2008. Republicans criticized religion’s absence in the center’s exhibits and demanded that the CVC reflect what they see as a major part of the nation’s history.
In July, Congress passed Rep. Dan Lungren’s (R-Calif.) bill to include the motto and Pledge, along with a bill from Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) to place a marker in Emancipation Hall that explains slaves’ role in building the Capitol. The Architect of the Capitol engraved “In God We Trust— on the walls of the CVC’s main hall in September and is in the process of engraving the Pledge.
In a press release Tuesday, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) called the pending lawsuit “outrageous.—
“The importance of faith and belief in God is on display every single day in the Capitol,— he said. “There are multiple references to God exhibited in the building, and both the House and Senate open each day in prayer. Referencing God in the new visitor center is not only appropriate, it is also necessary in order to accurately tell the story of the Capitol’s history.—