DeMint protests Capitol Visitor Center's "left-leaning" displays

Republican Sen. Jim DeMint issues an angry statement about the new tourist attraction, saying it leaves out the country's religious history.

Published December 5, 2008 12:55AM (EST)

You'd think Washington, D.C. could manage to open a simple tourist attraction like the new Capitol Visitor Center without too much controversy. But no.

First, conservative bloggers jumped all over Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for noting that tourists in D.C. tend to smell during the summer months. (Apparently, it's unpatriotic to acknowledge the fact that even Americans sweat when walking around all day in what might as well still be a swamp.) Michelle Malkin even posted a letter from a reader who wrote Reid, "As a visitor to the Senate and a history buff I am insulted by your remarks. They clearly show you are not worthy of your position and should resign... You, sir, are the one who stinks."

South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint is causing some controversy of his own, saying the CVC "fails to appropriately honor our religious heritage that has been critical to America’s success" and that its displays "are left-leaning and in some cases distort our true history." Here's his statement:

The Capitol Visitor Center is designed to tell the history and purpose of our nation's Capitol, but it fails to appropriately honor our religious heritage that has been critical to America’s success. While the Architect of the Capitol has pledged to include some references to faith, more needs to be done. You cannot accurately tell the history of America or its Capitol by ignoring the religious heritage of our Founders and the generations since who relied on their faith for strength and guidance. The millions of visitors that will visit the CVC each year should get a true portrayal of the motivations and inspirations of those who have served in Congress since its establishment.

The current CVC displays are left-leaning and in some cases distort our true history. Exhibits portray the federal government as the fulfillment of human ambition and the answer to all of society’s problems. This is a clear departure from acknowledging that Americans’ rights "are endowed by their Creator" and stem from "a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence." Instead, the CVC’s most prominent display proclaims faith not in God, but in government. Visitors will enter reading a large engraving that states, "We have built no temple but the Capitol. We consult no common oracle but the Constitution." This is an intentional misrepresentation of our nation’s real history, and an offensive refusal to honor America's God-given blessings...

The fundamental principles of the freedom we enjoy in this country stem from our Founding Fathers’ beliefs in a higher power, beliefs put forth in the Declaration of Independence and manifest throughout our Constitution. If we cease to acknowledge this fact, we may cease to enjoy some of the freedoms we take for granted. We must not censor historical references to God for the sake of political correctness. And we must truthfully represent the limited form of government the Constitution lays out so that our "government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth." So help us God.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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