Rule reversed today
Although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D – CA) defended the banning of religious references on certificates issued by the Architect of the U.S. Capitol, a memo released from his office today reverses the disputed policy.
Stephen T. Ayers, AIA, Acting Architect of the Capitol, originally banned the use of the word “God” on the certificate of authenticity issued to an Eagle Scout. The Scout requested 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.”
Ayers, serving in a relatively unknown and non-elected position, claimed he had the authority to invoke the ban. He said he banned the word “God” because someone might be offended.
“It’s not about being anti-religion,” Pelosi said as the dispute heated up. “It is just about what the Architect thought was appropriate for him to proclaim in a certificate.”
Ohio Republican Rep. Michael Turner disagreed. He wrote to Pelsoi regarding his dismay over the policy. The letter, signed by other Republicans, declared that the policy “puts at risk our religious freedoms and heritage.”
In a statement, Turner said, “The word ‘God’ is carved into the walls of both chambers of Congress. The Architect is the custodian of the Capitol and currently maintains several religious symbols in the building. If permitted, removing ‘God’ from the Capitol flag ceremonies will be the precedent for removing ‘God’ from the Capitol, and this cannot be permitted.”
The Cleveland Plain Dealer political blog covered the matter here.