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Religious References Removed from Flag Certificates at the National's
Summary of the eRumor: The eRumor says that the man
occupying the office of the Architect of the Capitol has ordered that
certificates of authenticity that accompany ceremonial flags flown over
the capitol not include any religious terminology even if the persons
requesting the certificate ask for it.
The Truth: One of the common practices in Washington is
requesting a flag that has flown over the capitol to be presented to a
citizen on some special occasion. It has been estimated that about
100,000 of them are requested and granted each year.
Along with the flag is a certificate that authenticates that the flag
really did fly over the capitol. The certificate also includes the
name of the person receiving the flag, the occasion on which it was
presented, and a brief comment submitted by the person who made the
This forwarded email, which was sent by the American Family Association
says that the certificates of authenticity cannot include any religious
language or references to God.
An article in the Washington Post from October 6, 2007 goes into more
detail about the issue.
Both the AFA and the Washington post tell stories about intended
presentations of flags to war
veterans but whose certificates did not include references to God, which
had been submitted with the requests for the flags.
The AFA release puts the blame on the Architect of the Capitol, Steven
Ayers. According to the Post, Ayer's office told Rep. Michael R.
Turner of Ohio that the rules say that religious expressions are not
permitted on flag certificates.
Republicans have complained to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that the rule
should not be construed as meaning that the word "God" cannot be used.
A real example of the eRumor as it has
appeared on the Internet:
According to U.S. Representative Marilyn Musgrave, our nationís
legislators are now prohibited from using references to God in
certificates of authenticity accompanying flags flown over the Capitol and
bought by constituents. Such references include: "under God" in the
pledge, "God bless you," or "in the year of our Lord, 2007." Never before
has this official prohibition been leveled.
Architect of the Capitol Steven Ayers said he has
removed the words because reference to God and the Lord may offend some
Americans. He now prohibits them from being placed on official documents
such as flag certificates.
Musgrave was astonished when she flew a flag over the
U.S. Capitol building as a tribute to a senior citizen, and the
accompanying certificate she received was edited with all religious
The congresswoman was more astounded when, upon further
investigation, she discovered the certificate was censored by order of The
Architect of the Capitol, an unelected very low-level official who manages
the flag office.
Responding to a request for a flag flown over the United
States Capitol in honor of a World War II veteran's 81st birthday, the
congresswoman ordered the flag and a certificate to state: "This flag was
flown for Mr. John Doe on the occasion of his 81st birthday, the eleventh
day of July, in the year of our Lord, 2007. Thank you, Grandpa, for
showing me what it is to be a true patriot -- to love God, family, and
country. We love you!"
When the flag and certificate came back from the flag office, each
reference to the Lord and God were removed. A group of lawmakers
confronted architect Stephen Ayers seeking to find where he had the
authority to restrict their freedom of speech and religious expression.
Ayers refused to give the lawmakers a clear justification of his authority
to delete the religious references. For more information: Capitol flag
policy assailed (Washington Times).
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