A Michigan congressman and more than 100 of his colleagues are asking Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to reverse a decision by the [acting] Architect of the Capitol banning references to God from U.S. Capitol flag certificates.
The [acting] Architect of the Capitol has responded to public outcry, announcing on Thursday that it is "inappropriate" and "beyond the scope" of its responsibilities to censor messages from 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," said acting Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers. He said rules governing religious and political expressions on certificates accompanying flags that have been flown over the Capitol "have been inconsistently applied," and therefore he has directed that the policy be changed and new guidelines be reissued immediately.
According to [acting Architect][Ayers' statement [PDF], the practice of not allowing religious and/or political expressions on the flag certificates dates back to the 1970s, "although not in writing."
Representative Dave Camp (R-Michigan) says getting a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol and an accompanying certificate of authenticity is one of the most popular requests he and his colleagues receive from their constituents. However, the [acting] Capitol Architect recently struck the word "God" from a certificate for a flag that an Eagle Scout wanted to give to his grandfather -- a veteran -- "for his dedication and love of God, country, and family."
Congressman Camp says the policy banning references to God is foolish, an "outrage," and something that has to change.
"Now I have to tell you, in the House of Representatives, behind the Speaker's chair are the words 'In God We Trust,'" he points out. " I've joined with a number ... of my colleagues and written the Speaker [of the House Nancy Pelosi] and said we need to ... get this turned around so people can have references to faith and God."
Camp says the flag certificates are in no way a government endorsement of religion because they are given by individuals to individuals. In addition, he says, the references to God are "very benign and not proselytizing in any way." He calls the development "a wrongheaded move by some bureaucrat" in the [acting] Capitol Architect's office.
"The [acting Capitol] Architect needs to be held accountable," the Republican lawmaker urges, "and the Speaker really has the ability to change this -- and that's why over a hundred of my colleagues and I wrote a letter saying this needs to get fixed as soon as possible." Camp says he plans to send in certificates to ensure the policy does not continue.Does anybody want to take my 1,000 to one bet that the [acting Capitol Architect] would like a [Permanent Appointment]? And how about another bet that the [acting Capitol Architect] is a pagan at 500 to one? $25 minimum bet by you; I pay you $25,000 if I'm wrong.