U.S. Capitol: 'God' a No-Go on Flag Certificates
WASHINGTON – When 17-year-old Andrew Larochelle of Dayton, Ohio, crafted a plan to send his grandfather the gift of a flag that had flown over the U.S. Capitol, he never thought his sentiments about "God, country and family" would be questioned.
The Eagle Scout was surprised, however, when the personal inscription he requested attached to a flag he purchased from the U.S. Capitol was censored. The teen said he wrote, "In honor of my grandfather Marcel Larochelle, and his dedication and love of God, country and family."
The flag flew on Sept. 11, Marcel Larochelle's birthday. But when Andrew finally received the flag in the mail on Sept. 30, "God" was taken out of his note.
"I was shocked that the word 'God' would be taken off a personal message from my son to his grandfather," Andrew's father, Paul Larochelle, told FOX News.
The family contacted Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, who had sought to fulfill the flag request. Turner requested an explanation for the omission from the Architect of the Capitol, the office responsible for flying American flags momentarily over the Capitol and then sending them to constituents who request them, all for a fee of $9.
Turner said he was told that AoC rules do not allow religious expressions on flag certificates.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has defended the omission made by acting Architect Stephen T. Ayers, and said she has no plans to change the existing rules.
House Republicans, however, have a different take. They say the Capitol has many religious expressions and Congress begins each day with a prayer. They want new rules allowing religious expressions on flag certificates. They also note that the message wasn't written by Congress but by a private citizen to another private citizen.
"This practice, which overturns a longstanding and long cherished congressional tradition, has rightly drawn outrage from the American people, who have grown weary of endless attempts by politicians and bureaucrats to bar the word God and even the most tacit references to faith from our public institutions," House Minority Leader John Boehner wrote in a letter to Pelosi.
Boehner said as speaker, Pelosi can instruct the acting Architect of the Capitol to set aside the written policy of his predecessor and restore the practice of including God's name.
To compromise, Rep. Robert A. Brady, chairman of the House Administration Committee, which oversees the Architect of the Capitol, has suggested allowing a uniform certificate of authenticity and then giving each congressional office latitude to handle personal inscriptions. Turner has said he is considering legislation to repeal the AoC rule.
FOX News' Major Garrett contributed to this report.