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House Bills Promote Religion At War Memorials

The House on Tuesday passed two bills endorsing the use of religious symbols at military memorials. One writes into law the propriety of displaying religious markers at war memorials while the other orders that the Interior Department add to the World War II Memorial in Washington a plaque with Franklin Roosevelt's prayer to the nation on D-Day.

View of the Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial on July 3, 2006 in San Diego, California.  The cross is the center piece of the memorial which sits atop a mountain overlooking San Diego.
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Above: View of the Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial on July 3, 2006 in San Diego, California. The cross is the center piece of the memorial which sits atop a mountain overlooking San Diego.

The first bill would codify the existing practice of allowing religious symbols at military monuments established or acquired by the federal government. It was introduced by San Diego Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter in response to a 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling a year ago that a cross placed on Mount Soledad in nearby La Jolla, Calif., in 1913 was unconstitutional.

The bill, Hunter said, "ensures that Mount Soledad and any other war memorial will withstand these attacks by allowing the inclusion of all symbols of religion and personal faith on war memorials established and under the control of the federal government." The 43-foot cross, which became a memorial to Korean War veterans and now honors all veterans, has been the center of legal challenges for more than two decades. In 2006, Congress passed a law transferring the property to the Defense Department.

The second bill would install at the World War II Memorial on the Mall a plaque or inscription with Roosevelt's prayer on June 6, 1944, when Allied forces invaded Normandy. It passed 386-26.

The prayer begins: "With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances."

Bureau of Land Management Director Robert Abbey, in congressional testimony last November, said that while the administration did not judge the merit of the new commemoration, it could not support it. He said it was contrary to law that bars adding new commemorative work that encroaches on an existing one.

The addition, he said, "will necessarily dilute this elegant memorial's central message and its ability to clearly convey that message to move, educate and inspire its many visitors."

Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, the bill's sponsor, said he didn't see "how a nondenominational prayer that gave solace and comfort and strength to our nation during one of the most pivotal days of World War II and one of the most memorable days in our nation's history, would dilute the central message of the memorial."

The bills now go to the Senate.

Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, urged the Senate to ignore the bills, saying those who give their lives for the country should be honored "by respecting America's great tradition of religious diversity, not by allowing Congress to hijack the language and symbols of one faith and impose them on all."

Comments

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | January 25, 2012 at 9:49 a.m. ― 2 years, 11 months ago

Ah, yes.

Rep. Duncan Hunter.

Solidly in the running with Darrel Issa, Supervisor Bill Horn, and former mayor cum felon and right-wing hate radio propagandist Roger Hedgecock for the most embarrassing, radical, inep political hack ever produced in San Diego County.

I love the way these right wing fanatics claim they don't want the Federal Government slithering their tentacles into state and local issues, but when the issues aren't going their way, they decide to have Big Brother come in and change things to suit their own ideologies.

I can't say I'm surprised. Virtually everything Hunter does is wrapped up in partisan politics and right wing activism. Not only that, he is stupid. I'm not saying this to be mean, I am saying this because I have seen him in press conferences and read his quotes in the media. He is butt-dumb. Literally, on par with Rick Perry where you have to wonder how in the hell someone so ignorant could be elected to important office. I guess having Daddy in politics and exploiting his own military career helped him.

Obviously, I hope the Senate squashes both ridiculous bills, and I am going to write our Senate Reps to do just that.

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