A needed change

Published 6:01 am Saturday, October 13, 2007

By Staff
Thanks to an Eagle Scout raising a fuss over a flag-raising event at the U.S. Capitol, a ban on the word “God” in certificates that accompany flags flown over the Capitol has been removed.
Thank God.
And thank 17-year-old Andrew Larochelle of Dayton, Ohio.
The Eagle Scout wanted to honor his grandfather’s “love of God, country and family’’ by having an American flag flown over the U.S. Capitol, according to a report by The Associated Press. Well, the flag was flown, but a problem with the wording on the document that certified the flag was flown over the U.S. Capitol surfaced.
The Architect of the Capitol’s office removed the word “God” from the certificate of authenticity that accompanied the flag the Eagle Scout wanted to present his grandfather.
When Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, learned last week what happened, he protested to the Architect of the Capitol’s office, as well he should. That office has no right to commit what amounts to censorship.
Larochelle requested the certificate read: ‘‘This flag was flown in honor of Marcel Larochelle, my grandfather, for his dedication and love of God, country and family.’’ The Architect of the Capitol’s office had removed “God” from the certificate, saying the reference to God violated a policy, put in place four years ago, prohibiting religious and political expressions on such certificates.
On Thursday, acting Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers announced he is revising guidelines pertaining to certificates that accompany flags flown over the U.S. Capitol. Ayers said it is ‘‘beyond the scope of this agency’s responsibilities to censor messages from members of Congress,’’ according to The Associated Press.
Finally, a government official not afraid of a connection between God and government and willing to do something about it.
And Ayers has allies. Several lawmakers, being led by Republicans, are demanding the policy be changed. They need support from Americans who believe in the words found on U.S. money: “In God We Trust.”
To be sure, there will be people who will bring up the “separation of church and state” argument. In our opinion, all that means is the state can’t force a state-supported religion on someone. We will save that debate for later.
It’s time to echo the words of House Republican leader John Boehner, R-Ohio. In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Boehner wrote the policy ‘‘has rightly drawn outrage from the American people, who have grown weary of endless attempts by politicians and bureaucrats to bar the word God and even the most tacit references to faith from our public institutions.’’
For those people who will be outraged because these certificates may include the word “God” in them, be outraged. They have that right. If they want to fly flags above the U.S. Capitol and have accompanying certificates that don’t make mention of God, that’s their right.
Despite the rules change, Turner is moving ahead with proposed legislation that would permanently permit the acknowledgment of God in certificates accompanying flags flown over the U.S. Capitol. A similar proposal is being made in the Senate.
North Carolina’s congressional delegation should make sure this change is made.