God at the Capitol’s new Visitor Center

GOD AT THE CAPITOL’S NEW VISITOR CENTER…. A massive new $621 million visitor center opened this week at Capitol Hill, making it easier for tourists to visit Congress. It’s been fairly well received, except for the religiously-based whining from one right-wing senator.

Sen. Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican, had threatened to delay Tuesday’s opening of the marble-and-stone center that took seven years to build at triple the original cost. […]

After taking a tour of the visitor center in September with Steven Ayers, the architect of the Capitol who oversaw its completion, DeMint correctly noted that it had erroneously described “E. Pluribus Unum” — Latin for “from many, one” — as the national motto rather than “In God We Trust.”

Despite winning a months-long battle to highlight the importance of religion in American life, DeMint said the center still misrepresents American history by downplaying the faith of the Founding Fathers and other prominent figures.

“The current Capitol Visitor Center displays are left-leaning and in some cases distort our true history,” DeMint said. The center’s “most prominent display proclaims faith not in God, but in government.”

Imagine that. A secular government that honors the separation of church and state built a Capitol Visitor Center that honors — get this — government. The nerve.

What’s more, near the center’s entrance, there’s an engraving: “We have built no temple but the Capitol. We consult no common oracle but the Constitution.” The quote comes from Rufus Choate, who served in the House and Senate in the 1830s.

DeMint, true to form, protested this Constitution-centered quote for not being religious enough. “This is an intentional misrepresentation of our nation’s real history and an offensive refusal to honor America’s God-given blessings,” DeMint said.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chair of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, which oversees the new visitor center, agreed to make several of the changes DeMint has demanded, including a reference to “In God We Trust” as the national motto.

The changes to make the visitor center more religious will cost taxpayers $150,000.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.