Only in today's Washington, DC could an architect believe he has the right to tell an America citizen whether or not he or she can include the word God on a simple certificate said citizen actually pays for -- and the answer, for now, is no.
Via Drudge, an item in the Midland Daily News:
A 17-year-old Eagle Scout from Ohio reportedly was denied the request to have a certificate read, "This flag was flown in honor of Marcel Larochelle, my grandfather, for his dedication and love of God, country and family."
Midland Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Camp is among lawmakers objecting because the U.S. Capitol's architect won't allow God to be mentioned in certificates of authenticity accompanying flags flown over the Capitol and bought by constitutents(sic).
Apparently it's true, based upon item 8 on page 2 of this pdf, they went to the trouble of putting it in bold. These flags aren't given out, you have to buy and pay for them, at which time you submit 300 characters of text for inclusion on the certificate. But you can't include the word God. Good thing the kid didn't want it to read Allah, there'd probably be all hell to pay for refusing that one.
The Capitol Architect needs to find something else to do with his spare time besides telling Americans what they can and can't say on a certificate they pay for.... In fact, maybe he needs to have more spare time. This idiot sounds a little too full of himself to me.
This website was developed in response to consumers' requests for information regarding the purchase of United States Capitol flags.
Well, if there was a rule barring the inclusion of the word "God," on a certificate on which the citizen could include anything else, that would be pretty troublesome. Even if it's the government refusing to print a certificate, why the discrimination against that word?
But if one does look at the Flag Office's document (which Mr. Riehl, to his credit, links to), one sees the whole rule: "political and/or religious expressions are not permitted on the flag certificate." The discrimination isn't against God -- it's against a wide range of ideological expression.
I take it that the Flag Office's worry is that if they didn't have such a limit, someone would put some incendiary political or religious message on the certificate, and then the Flag Office would be condemned for participating in the printing of such a message (presumably with a government seal, and apparently with the signature of the Architect of the Capitol). Perhaps the Office should have ignored this risk, and given buyers an entirely free hand in selecting whatever words they want. Or perhaps the Office should have tried to carve out some exception for bland references to religion, on the theory that such references are especially important to many buyers of the flags (though might create its own problems).
But in any event, the Office is trying to avoid getting involved with a wide range of ideological messages, not just references to "God." Any criticism of the program should, it seems to me, make that clear.