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Published: Thursday, 10/18/2007

God and the flag

CONGRESSMEN have too much to do and too little time to do it to waste time and energy over whether the Architect of the Capitol removed the word "God" from a flag request.

But last week that's exactly what they were doing, making a big show of "protecting" an Ohio Eagle Scout (and the rest of America) from, in the words of Republican Rep. Randy Neugebauer of Texas, "political correctness run amok."

Andrew Larochelle of Dayton requested that a flag be flown over the Capitol "in honor of Marcel Larochelle, my grandfather, for his dedication and love of God, country, and family." The Architect of the Capitol's office fills about 100,000 requests of this sort every year but balked at the word "God" because a 2003 directive had banned religious and political expressions on the certificates.

When the Larochelles received the flag and certificate, sans the offending phrase, they complained to their representative, Republican Michael Turner, who requested a revised certificate.

That might have been the end of it but conservative radio talk-show hosts and bloggers found out about the incident and raised a stink.

That got the attention of lawmakers, especially Republicans, who decided they were outraged.

Architect Stephen Ayers, naturally, bowed immediately to the wishes of Congress, and lawmakers declared "a great victory for American traditions, religious freedoms, and freedom of expression."

Poppycock. A reoccurrence of the problem could have been as easily avoided by quietly asking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to instruct Mr. Ayers to change the policy.

Faced with a multitude of authentic issues such as the growing national debt, providing health insurance for poor children, the war in Iraq, the looming Social Security crisis, and immigration reform, members of Congress surely could find more productive ways to spend their time.

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