The new 580,000-square-foot, $621 million Visitor’s Center is already embroiled in controversy. It seems that the illustrious planners wanted to avoid controversy by leaving out the content of America’s rich Christian heritage but had no problem including “photographs of Earth Day, information about an AIDS rally and details about the nation’s industrial sector.” See this instructive video on what will be missing when visitors visit our nation’s capital. Reports indicate that even the motto “In God We Trust” is nowhere to be found, which is apropos since the majority of our elected officials don’t trust in God anyway. David Barton reports the following:
For example, in presenting the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, Visitor Center officials actually deleted the words “religion and morality” from the document. And in presenting images of the current Speaker’s Rostrum in the House Chamber, they deliberately omitted the phrase “In God We Trust” from its prominent location engraved in marble above the Speaker’s head. There are many other examples. No wonder a congressman has dubbed it the “$600 million dollar godless pit.”
What follows is a list of some of the religious inscriptions that can be found in our nation’s capitol and elsewhere. Others can be found here. If you would like more information on this topic, see my books America’s Christian History and America’s Christian Heritage:
1. Two identical bronze plaques with the words “In God We Trust” appear on the east wall of the Longswortth House Office Building and the southwest entrance west wall of the Dirksen Office Building.
2. A painting depicting “The Baptism of Pocahontas at Jamestown” (1613) hangs in the Capitol Rotunda.
3. The “Embarkation of the Pilgrims” shows Elder William Brewster holding a Bible opened to the title page which reads “The New Testament of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” The words “God With Us” are inscribed on the sail of the ship (lower left corner). The painting hangs in the Rotunda of the Capitol.
4. A relief of Moses hangs in the central Gallery of the U.S. House of Representatives. Moses is surrounded by twenty-two other lawgivers.
5. The Latin phrase Annuit Coeptis, “[God] has smiled on our undertaking,” is inscribed on the Great Seal of the United States. The motto was also added to the Senate Chamber when it was remodeled in 1950.
6. The Liberty Bell in Philadelphia has Leviticus 25:10 prominently displayed in a band near its top: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land, unto the inhabitants thereof.”
7. President Eliot of Harvard chose Micah 6:8 for the walls of the Library of Congress: “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth God require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” Overlooking the Main Reading Room is a bronze statue of Moses holding the two tablets of the Ten Commandments.
8. The lawmaker’s library quotes the Psalmist’s acknowledgment of the beauty and order of creation: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).
9. At the beginning of each session of the Supreme Court, the marshal of the Court (Court Crier) nakes the following announcement: “Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! All persons having business before the Honorable, the Supreme Court of the United States, are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the Court is now sitting. God save the United States and this Honorable Court!”
10. At the opposite end of the Lincoln memorial, words and phrases from Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address allude to “God,” the “Bible,” “providence,” “the Almighty,” and “divine attributes.”
11. The Jefferson Memorial includes these words from Jefferson’s writings: “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.”
12. Most presidents have taken their presidential oath while affirming “So help me God.” The bronze Senate Doors show George Washington taking the presidential oath with his hands on an open Bible.
13. Several state mottos (some in Latin) reference God: Arizona (”God Enriches“), Florida (”In God We Trust“), Ohio (”With God all Things are Possible“), Colorado (”Nothing Without Providence“), Maryland (”With the shield of thy goodwill thou hast covered us“), Connecticut (”He who transplanted still sustains“), and South Dakota (”Under God, the People Rule“).
14. All 50 state constitutions make reference to God or providence.
15. The same year that Congress approved adding the phrase “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance, both Houses of Congress passed a resolution directing the Capitol architect to make available “a room, with facilities for prayer and meditation, for the use of members of the Senate and House of Representatives.” The seventh edition of The Capitol, an official publication of the United States Congress, gives the following description of the Congressional Prayer Room:
The history that gives this room its inspirational lift is centered in the stained glass window. George Washington kneeling in prayer . . . is the focus of the composition. . . . Behind Washington a prayer is etched: “Preserve me, O God, for in Thee do I put my trust,” the first verse of the sixteenth Psalm. There are upper and lower medallions representing the two sides of the Great Seal of the United States. On these are inscribed the phrases: annuit coeptis– “God has favored our undertakings”-and novus ordo seclorum– “A new order of the ages is born.” Under the upper medallion is the phrase from Lincoln’s immortal Gettysburg Address, “This Nation under God.”. . . The two lower corners of the window each show the Holy Scriptures, an open book and a candle, signifying the light from God’s law, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” [Psalm 119:105].
The prayer room is decidedly Christian in character. The Bible is featured, not the Book of Mormon or the Koran. Religious citations are taken from the Bible. Subsequent editions of The Capitol book no longer contain the material on the congressional prayer room. While there is a picture of the room in a later edition, a description of its religious features is absent.
16. A mural depicting Moses and the Ten Commandments can be found in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Building in Harrisburg. When a photograph had been taken of the justices positioned in from of the 10′ x 10′ mural in 2006, the Ten Commandment text was purposely blurred.
19. In a letter to Jedidiah Morse dated February 28, 1797, John Jay (1745-1829), appointed to the Supreme court by George Washington as the first Chief Justice, stated the following:
Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers. It is to be regretted, but so I believe the fact to be, that except the Bible there is not a true history in the world. Whatever may be the virtue, discernment, and industry of the writers, I am persuaded that truth and error (though in different degrees) will imperceptibly become and remain mixed and blended until they shall be separated forever by the great and last refining fire.
Some might want to claim that this was personal correspondence and has no bearing on the religious history of America. I would like to remind those who take this position that it was Thomas Jefferson’s January 1, 1802 personal and unofficial correspondence to the Danbury Baptists and the use of the phrase “wall of separation between church and state” that has become the prevailing definition of the First Amendment.