- The Washington Times - Monday, July 19, 2004

A religious rights group plans to demonstrate today at the National World War II Memorial, demanding the addition of a plaque commemorating the role that religion played in sustaining the country during the war.

“To think that nowhere on the memorial is there a reference to God, religion, faith or Old Testament scripture is really reprehensible,” said the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition.

The absence of religious messages in the 12 quotes carved into the monument, he said, was evidence of the ongoing movement to secularize American culture.

“Faith and religion played as much a role as any other aspect in getting us through those dark and difficult times,” Mr. Mahoney said. “It appears that there is a deliberate attempt to remove any reference to God.”

The coalition is a nationwide Christ-centered activist ministry founded in 1991 and based in the District.

About 10 people are expected to participate in the demonstration, in which they will display placards with religious quotations by World War II leaders that could have been included in the inscriptions.

Betsy Glick, spokeswoman for the memorial, said the designers did not endeavor to strike religious speech from the monument.

“We had no intent of avoiding that at all,” she said. “It was never even discussed. It was never an issue in any way, shape or fashion.”

Ms. Glick said she was befuddled about coalition members’ saying the memorial was anti-religious after the May 29 dedication ceremony includedreligious remarks by Gen. P.X. Kelley, chairman of the American Battle Monuments Commission.

“Let us pray, let us pray to our chosen God, that our nation’s … memory of their service will never fade,” Gen. Kelley said.

Mr. Mahoney pointed out that none of the quotes inscribed on the memorial mention God, despite some being taken from speeches by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, President Harry S. Truman, Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower that were replete with religious references.

For example, the section of the memorial commemorating the attack on Pearl Harbor is inscribed with Mr. Roosevelt’s quote, “December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy … no matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory.”

In the same speech, although it doesn’t appear on the memorial, Mr. Roosevelt also said, “With confidence in our armed forces — with the unbounded determination of our people — we will gain the inevitable triumph — so help us God.”

The section of the memorial commemorating the war’s end is inscribed with Gen. MacArthur’s words: “Today, the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended. A great victory has been won. The skies no longer rain death — the seas bear only commerce — men everywhere walk upright in the sunlight. The entire world is quietly at peace.”

The inscription did not include the statement that Gen. MacArthur made just before the speech: “Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always.”

Nor did it include a later passage in which he said, “I thank a merciful God that He has given us the faith, the courage and the power from which to mold victory.”

Ms. Glick said the selection of quotes without religious references was “neither conscious or unconscious. The quotes that we selected, we selected for their content.”

Mr. Roosevelt’s quote was chosen, she said, because “its phrasing directly relates to the rest of the inscription, which commemorates the attack on Pearl Harbor.”

Mr. Mahoney said references to God abound at other memorials in the District, including the Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial.

He said even various landings inside the Washington Monument are inscribed with the phrases “In God We Trust,” “May heaven to this Union continue its benefits” and “Holiness to the Lord.”

Mr. Mahoney said his group would be satisfied if a plaque with a religious quote was added to the World War II Memorial. He suggested using Gen. MacArthur’s “merciful God” quote on a plaque where visitors exit.

Mrs. Glick said coalition leaders can request the change.

“They are free to put their comments in writing and address it to the appropriate parties,” she said.

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