12.01.2008 0

Standing on Holy Ground

  • On: 12/04/2008 10:07:13
  • In: First Amendment
  • By William Warren

    Who would have thought that the opening of the brand new Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) in Washington, D.C. would be divinely ordained?

    It certainly came as news to one particular Senator with a strong aversion to such a can of worms, Jim DeMint of South Carolina. In a recent statement, the Senator came down hard on the CVC, particularly the displays therein which, he claims, “are left-leaning and in some cases distort our true history.”

    One prominently engraved quote really has Mr. DeMint and other conservatives fuming. As it reads:

    “We have built no temple but the Capitol. We consult no common oracle but the Constitution.”

    So, the Capitol is a temple? Last I checked it was a very expensive American Neoclassical office building. And last I heard the Constitution was one of the nation’s most important political documents—which many in our current political establishment regard as a cumbersome hindrance rather than an “oracle” to be consulted.

    Perhaps the display is meant to pay some sort of homage to American history, much like advocates of “In God We Trust” displays have argued over the years.

    If this is the case and the quote is meant to pay tribute to history, it is a rather obscure and suspiciously selective one at that. The quote itself was uttered by the Rufus Choate, the enduring American of historical renown…

    Oh, wait. Never heard of him? Neither had we.

    As it turns out, Rufus Choate was a lawyer turned one-term Senator from Massachusetts in the 1830s and 40s. He also was a great charismatic speaker and regarded for his so-called intellect. And although he must have lacked the audacity to run for our nation’s highest office, he curiously sounds an awful lot like our current President-elect.

    Nevertheless, the planners of the CVC thought it more appropriate to prominently feature a relatively unknown secular-humanist utterance from an obscure 19th century lawyer/politician than a quote from the plethora of God-fearing American statesmen such as, say, George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, who revered America’s important religious heritage. I suppose Washington and Lincoln and all their religious tomfoolery are mere Lilliputians next to the towering grandeur of Rufus Choate and his eloquent Government-worshipping epigrams.

    Those responsible for the CVC ought to be ashamed for presenting such a perverted and deliberately misleading account of American history. It’s as if the Government has calculatingly set out to erase any mention of religion from the annals of history, much like the “Ministry of Truth” of Orwellian fame.

    The real tragedy here, however, is not the perversion or falsification of history reality. The true crime is the bolstering effect the display gives to the growing false narrative that proclaims Government as the be-all and end-all and the solution to society’s every woe. As Mr. DeMint stated, the display “proclaims faith not in God, but in government.”

    Faith in government seems to be the most prolific religion in America these days. In fact, Barack Obama’s entire campaign was based on this belief: Government can solve our health concerns…Government can dictate the environmental course of the planet…Government can bring prosperity and peace.

    The ever flourishing “bailout culture” has augmented this disturbing trend. It’s as if Government is a bountiful Santa Claus—or perhaps God himself—who allocates blessings as he wishes. The CEOs of the Big Three even made a pilgrimage to the holy city of Washington to plead for forgiveness and divine intervention.

    The bottom line is that the Capitol has never been—and never should be—a temple of any kind. Moreover, its inhabitants—and those in the White House—ought never to be viewed as any kind of deity. There is a reason communist regimes like those of the Soviet Union and Mao’s China replaced religion in their countries with state and hero-worship.

    Big Government is not the solution to the problem—it is the problem. By design, it restricts liberty. And the bigger the government gets, the harder it is for the individual to breathe.
    To elevate government to divine status is to elevate all of government’s dictates against the individual to a status that cannot be questioned. It must be accepted on faith.

    Rather, American individual ingenuity and exceptionalism—whether one believes it to be bestowed by an Almighty God or not—is what has made America the great country it is.

    Whenever government tries to tell us otherwise, it ought to be met with supreme apprehension.
    Any attempt to supplant the individual as the authority in one’s life—especially when bolstered with religious and messianic undertones—is an egregious violation of the constitution and American, a nation founded to protect individual liberty.

    Nevertheless, both domestic and foreign tourists will flock to the new Capitol Visitor Center to witness the great “Temple” and behold the almighty disciples of the ancient—although no longer revered—“Oracle”.

    Perhaps they will even remove their shoes—considering they stand on holy ground.

    William Warren is a contributing editor of ALG News Bureau.


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