Prodded by the Religious Right, some members of Congress have developed an unhealthy obsession over the displays in the U.S. Capitol Building.
You might recall the recent flap over the new Capitol Visitor Center (CVC). The CVC is a $621 million, state-of-the-art facility that helps visitors to the U.S. Capitol understand the history of the structure and how the federal government works.
The Center opened in December of 2008, but even before it was dedicated, Religious Right groups began whining because the CVC doesn't contain enough information about America's alleged "Christian" history.
This is perhaps not surprising since the Center is not a museum of religious history. It's designed to explain the history of the U.S. Capitol and the federal government.
Congress has already mandated that the words "In God We Trust" be chiseled on the wall in a prominent area of the Center. This was done even though the words are already there. The motto is displayed above a video screen that explains how the House of Representatives functions.
Now U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and 13 other House members have introduced something called the "Congressional Hope for Uniform Recognition of Christian Heritage (CHURCH) Act of 2009." This is a bill mandating that the architect of the Capitol erect a plaque in the Capitol's National Statuary Hall pointing out that the Capitol was used for church services in the early 18th Century.
The CVC already includes information about this in one of its displays. So what are Gohmert and his gang really up to? From the wording of their plaque, it's clear they just want to take a cheap shot at separation of church and state, a phrase, they insist, is "not found in the Constitution." (Yes, yes, I know: The literal words are not there – but the concept certainly is. James Madison wrote the First Amendment, and here's what he said about it: "Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion & Govt in the Constitution of the United States....")
Thanks to the new CVC, visitors to the Capitol Building are getting a better look at American history as well as quick civics lesson on how our laws are made. Gohmert and his buddies need to give it a rest. The CVC and the Statuary Hall are no place for bogus "Christian nation" claptrap.
P.S.: Gohmert has one other interesting legislative effort he has been pushing lately: a crazy bill that would require presidential candidates to make their birth certificates publicly available. This nuttiness comes courtesy of the deranged "birther" wackos who insist that President Barack Obama is not a U.S. citizen, and Gohmert recently signed on as a co-sponsor.
The "birther" bill is regarded as a joke and stands about as much chance of becoming law as Barry Lynn does of being named the new president of Focus on the Family. Let's hope Gohmert's latest assault on the U.S. Capitol meets the same fate.