Archive for Friday, October 12, 2007

Conservatives claim victory in flag flap

October 12, 2007


— While the war, immigration and federal spending priorities defy solutions, conservative lawmakers claimed victory Thursday on one front:

They've compelled the architect of the U.S. Capitol to reverse a ban on using the word "God" in the framed certificates that mark honorary American flags flown over the Capitol.

"Today, we won a great victory for American traditions, religious freedoms and freedom of expression," said Rep. Michael Turner, an Ohio Republican.

Turner and 160 fellow lawmakers demanded that the ban be lifted in a letter Turner sent to Stephen T. Ayers, acting architect of the Capitol.

"When one of our services or policies doesn't effectively serve members of Congress or the American public, it needs to be changed immediately," Ayers said in a statement.

The protest started when "God" was left out of a certificate that Ohio teenager Andrew Larochelle, an Eagle Scout, received commemorating a flag flown in honor of his grandfather, Army veteran Marcel Larochelle.

"Removing 'God' out of that certificate was removing a major piece of what my dad stands for," Paul Larochelle, Andrew's father, said in an interview Thursday from Dayton. "We're delighted they're going to do what's right."

Andrew was at school and unavailable for comment.

Tens of thousands of Americans each year, through their congressional representatives, request that flags be flown over the Capitol to honor loved ones.

The Stars and Stripes is raised, unfurled and lowered about 275 times a day on three flagpoles over the Capitol. The banners are then folded and delivered to those who requested the ceremonies, along with certificates of authenticity.

Guidelines for requesting the honor had said "political and/or religious expressions are not permitted on the flag certificate." As of Thursday, that restriction no longer applies.

A flag honoring Marcel Larochelle, Andrew's grandfather and Paul's father, flew over the Capitol on Aug. 30. Andrew's message for the certificate cited his grandfather's "love of God," but when he received it, the reference to God was gone.

The family inquired about the omission, learned it wasn't accidental and publicized it. Outraged radio talk show hosts and bloggers urged their followers to flood congressional offices with calls and e-mails.

"We're glad that justice has been done," said Randy Sharp, a spokesman for the American Family Association in Tupelo, Miss., which helped stoke anger over the omission.

The group operates 180 Christian radio stations in 34 states, Sharp said, including Missouri, Texas, the Carolinas, Washington, Kentucky, Kansas, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi and Pennsylvania.

"I'm pleased that the Architect of the Capitol is no longer censoring the Architect of the Universe," Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Fla., said in a statement.


jayhawklawrence 10 years, 4 months ago

Sounds like the conservatives are up to their usual tricks trying to paint themselves as the only defenders of God, freedom and family values. This story would have been more plausible without the conservatives "Bush Republicans" trying to take credit for themselves.

jonas 10 years, 4 months ago

Whatever. At least not the political message restriction is gone too. I want my flag to say something about corrupt politicians and the horrid ineptitude of the current administration.

badger 10 years, 4 months ago

At first, I was annoyed because I thought that this was a federally-mandated 'God' statement from the way the intro was written, until I got to the part where it was that these folks had been denied the right to mention their God themselves. Now, if every flag went out with a federally-standardized 'God' message, I'd be all up in arms, but barring profanity, slanderous statements, and similar inappropriate language, private citizens ought to be able to get what they want on those certificates.

scurries off to request a flag for a loved one with a pagan blessing attached

badger 10 years, 4 months ago

scenebooster, I guess I don't see how overturning a rule that says, "People who want to request political or religious messages with their flags," is an affront to the Constitution. It doesn't appear to be saying that all flags will now be sent out with a religious message, which would be problematic, just that people aren't prohibited from requesting one. It also doesn't suggest that only JudeoChristian religious messages will be allowed.

I don't really dig on the posturing that accompanied the statement, or the 'Great Architect' foofaraw, but please explain to me how removing a restriction to the free speech of private citizens in a government forum is unConstitutional.

badger 10 years, 4 months ago

Sorry, that was "People who want to request political or religious messages with their flags can't do so,"

I lost a few words there....

They were censored by a prohibition on contractions.

BrianR 10 years, 4 months ago

Because the culture wars are so much more important than other things these misfits should be working on. Way to go. Way to deal with the real issues.

situveux1 10 years, 4 months ago

Don't worry americorps, just don't ask for a flag with the word 'God' in it and you won't have that problem! See, we're all happy now!

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