Sunday, July 19, 2009

In God We Trust on the Visitor Center

Representative Dan Lundgren, R-Cal., wants the new Capitol Visitor Center to have “In God We Trust” and the Pledge of Allegiance, with its proclamation of “Under God,” engraved in prominent places.

Apparently he got the House, and Senator Jim DeMint, R-SC, got the senate, to pass similar resolutions to that effect. However they both overlooked the folks from the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FfRF) who are suing to prevent it from happening.

I think “In God We Trust” should be scrapped and “Under God” removed from the pledge. I also think the chances of that happening are somewhere between “not a snowball’s chance in hell” and “not in this lifetime.”

However, with that being said, the two Christian congressmen may have overstepped themselves this time. The Visitor Center appears to have been developed as an extension to the Capitol itself and not as a standalone structure. This makes the argument that an “In God we Trust” engraving is an endorsement of religion a little hard to walk away from.

I see three possible decisions. Decision #1, and the one I expect, is the court throws out the case and the engravings are made. I’d say that the chances of this occurring are about 90%.

The second possibility is that the court rules that the engravings can’t be made but leaves the status of the motto and the pledge’s “Under God” unchanged. I see absolutely no real justification for such a decision. It would be “ad hoc” law created by compromise. Still, I give it around a 9% chance.

That leaves only a 1% possibility that the court will do what is right and strike down both the motto and the “Under God” in the pledge as violations of the 1st Amendment.

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