The National World War II Memorial opened in Washington, D.C. in 2004 and it’s a wonderful tribute to those who risked and gave their lives for our country.
But you know what it’s missing?
Two bills currently working their way through Congress — H.R. 2175, introduced by Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH), and S. 1044, introduced by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) — aim to install a prayer plaque somewhere in the area of the monument with the words that President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered on D-Day, a portion of which is below:
Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.
Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.
And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.
That’s what the “World War II Memorial Prayer Act” intends to make permanent at the memorial.
It’s just more red meat for the GOP’s Christian base. Yes, Roosevelt delivered the speech, but his religious platitudes don’t represent all the soldiers who fought in the war.
The Center For Inquiry, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and six other organizations have written letters to the Senate and House over the past year urging committee members to reconsider this idea:
This bill, however, shows a lack of respect for this great diversity. It endorses the false notion that all veterans will be honored by a war memorial that includes a prayer that proponents characterize as reflecting our country’s “Judeo-Christian heritage and values.” In fact, Department of Defense reports show that nearly one-third of all current members of the U.S. Armed Forces identify as non-Christian. Likewise, many of our veterans and citizens come from a variety of religious backgrounds, or have no religious belief; thus, it is inappropriate to honor the “power of prayer” in a national memorial.
Yesterday, the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulations met to discuss H.R. 2175 and there was nary a discussion about the religious implications of the bill (starting at the 40:00 mark):
I think the part that disturbed me the most was Rep. Johnson’s implication that seeing this plaque go up is on all living veterans’ bucket list:
“Time is of the essence… each week that goes by that we do not pass this legislation into law, another 4,000 World War II vets will have passed away without seeing this prayer added to the memorial.”
Yep, they risked their lives so that the U.S. government could promote the Christian faith.