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Senate approves prayer plaque for World War II monument

Around 4,300 Allied personnel lost their lives serving their country in what would be the largest amphibious invasion ever launched. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings, centered around the date of invasion, June 6, known as “D-Day.”

(RNS) Just in time for the 70th anniversary of D-Day Friday (June 6), the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent passed a bill to include a prayer plaque at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Around 4,300 Allied personnel lost their lives serving their country in what would be the largest amphibious invasion ever launched. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Normandy Landings, centered around the date of invasion, June 6, known as “D-Day”.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Around 4,300 Allied personnel lost their lives serving their country in what would be the largest amphibious invasion ever launched. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings, centered around the date of invasion, June 6, known as “D-Day.”

The prayer to be included on the plaque was delivered over the radio to millions of Americans by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the morning of the D-Day invasion, the Allied push into Europe that eventually led to the end of the conflict.

“O Lord, give us Faith,” the prayer reads in part. “Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade.” It concludes: “Thy will be done, Almighty God.”

The U.S. House will have to approve the bill, known as the World War II Memorial Prayer Act of 2013, before it heads to President Obama’s desk for his signature. But political pundits say there is little doubt the House will approve the measure since it passed a similar version of the bill last year.

Hailed by some religious and veterans groups, the Senate vote was another in a string of recent losses for secular activists who oppose the inclusion of a prayer on public property, such as the National Mall, the location of the memorial. Last month, the Supreme Court ruled sectarian prayers before government meetings are legal, and, at the state level, a challenge to the Pledge of Allegiance was unsuccessful.

The Commemorative Area of the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., recognizes the sacrifice of America's WWII generation and the contribution of our allies. A field of 4,000 sculpted gold stars on the Freedom Wall commemorates the more than 400,000 Americans who gave their lives, and symbolized the sacrifice of families across the nation.

U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Daniel J. McLain [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The commemorative area of the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., recognizes the sacrifice of America’s WWII generation and the contribution of our allies. A field of 4,000 sculpted gold stars on the Freedom Wall commemorates the more than 400,000 Americans who gave their lives, and symbolizes the sacrifice of families across the nation.

Michael De Dora, director of public policy for the Center for Inquiry, a humanist organization and member of a coalition of religious and secular groups opposed to the prayer plaque, said the Senate vote was both a surprise and a disappointment.

“We thought the Senate would take the long view of this and see the policy implications of adding a Christian prayer to a World War II monument,” De Dora said. “But even more upsetting was the way it was passed. There was no floor debate, no official vote, no one went on the record regarding their position. No one was allowed to speak up and no one did speak up.”

That’s because the bill was passed by “unanimous consent,” a point of parliamentary procedure by which there is no vote, only a chance to register objections. No senator objected.

 Robert Abbey, former director of the Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the memorial, said in written testimony before the House when it was considering the bill in 2011 that he opposed the addition of any plaque to the existing monument.

“It is not a judgment as to the merit of this new commemoration, simply that altering the Memorial in this way . . . will necessarily dilute this elegant memorial’s central message and its ability to clearly convey that message to move, educate, and inspire its many visitors,” Abbey said.


About the author

Kimberly Winston

Kimberly Winston is a freelance religion reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area.


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  • The WWII memorial officially has been tramp-stamped by politicians who are turning tricks for Christ.

  • i wonder how many soldiers that died on the beaches on D-day would approve of how atheist organizations are doing all they can to eliminate prayers and crosses from war memorials? and how the atheist crowd tries to minimize long held christian beliefs that are part of the freedoms those soldiers died to protect? seems to me that the atheist crowd enjoys telling people what freedoms they are allowed to enjoy, in public, and assaults every christian symbol, no matter where it is…public OR effect, if they can see it, no matter how far away it is..get rid of it. i wonder if those soldiers, who died to protect the freedoms of all, would be proud to see this all out assault on christian traditions…even though, im sure many atheists were there too, i still have to wonder how many, religious, or atheist, would be proud of the childish behavior so many atheists display and encourage…despite the fact of the “millions” of soldiers who gave their lives to protect the rights of freedom of religion, as well as the right to express contempt for it, if you wish, did so for all, not just some…but atheists think that they have special privledge to mock, tear down, destroy, protest, name call, humiliate, assault or other wise harrass anyone who disagrees with their ideals…atheists need to take a step back, suspend their hateful assaults for a second, and consider what those soldiers sacrificed their lives for…freedom..for everyone. not so athiests or christians can run around and tell everybody how much better they are compared to the other..but so we all can have the priveledge of expressing our faith, or lack thereof, without being chastized, critisized, or in some way punished, for nothing more than a overt display of ones belief…and for the sake of honoring the memory of those who’ve died, people need to stop playing the victim card. on both sides…”those nasty christians offend me sooo much, with their crosses and stupid religion..ohhh im so personally assaulted by that”…and christians “everybodys out to kill christianity, trying to take away my rights to my faith”..well, ill tell ya what, nobody can take away from you what your not ready to surrender..just ask a soldier. both groups need to get over themselves…the parts of it that cause drama and hate anyway..and see the bigger picture. those soldiers didnt die so one group becomes better than the other, with all this bulls**t backbiting and cowardly internet jabs..they face the enemy head on…many of them, im sure, praying to whatever God they believed in for comfort and courage…and all the militant athiests are doing is acting like babies that didnt get their way on the playground..proving that, despite claims that say christians can be very immature, in fact all groups, regardless of ideologies have a faction just as immature as any other, and they cry the loudest, so of course they are heard more…quit whining, and stop trying to irradicate religion wherever you find it, because many millions of people on both sides of the issue have died for it….when is enough death going to be enough…stop it…now!

  • I welcome the additional honor that is not communicated by the Memorial. I expect those who are opposed to religious faith will hate it, but it doesn’t change the enhanced meaning for me. Not only does it celebrate faithfulness to the truth of what transpired in actual history (rather than trying to rewrite history to fit PC standards) it celebrates the Constitution’s guarantee for free exercise of religion and celebrates one President who was a person who exercised his constitutional right.

  • As an atheist, I want you to be able to maintain a belief in whatever imaginary friend you choose. Go to the monument, say your incantations and spells; no one will stop you. Can you Christians just please stop smacking cheap plaques on grand monuments that represent higher ideals? Or have you run out of space on your car bumpers?

  • @ken,

    Your comment is a shameful, disgraceful display of Christian privilege and religious fascism.
    You reflect the broad and deep ignorance not only of the Constitutional freedom afforded and guaranteed to Atheists – but the profound ignorance typical of the religious.

    Religion is a totalitarian movement and it must finally be abandoned.
    Shame on you and shame on your ridiculous religious claims.

    You bespoil the graves of these heroes of freedom and foist UPON THEM the barbaric claims INSTEAD of a god who demands primitive blood sacrifice and slavery from his “flock”!

    Your fearful, blind, obedient, slavish religion is a disgrace to the names on those graves!


  • The plaque, celebrates fearful obedience to god – not the freedoms enshrined in the constitution or the flag.
    It is a disgrace beyond words to besmirch these lives with so petty and contemptible as a ‘god’.

    Shame on you.

  • Larry, yes – and we who care about liberty are about to be confronted with the overthrow of the establishment Clause if this doesn’t stop.
    It took thousands of years to build a country free of religious dictates and we are about to throw it all away for a god who loves the aroma of burning goat flesh (exodus 29:18).
    Once that freedom is gone it will never come back.

  • Increasingly, our government ignores the lessons of history and the first clause of the First Amendment to our own Constitution by ignoring the separation of church and state. The people and the courts allow violations. Our Supreme Court, our Catholic Supreme Court, approves particular religious prayer at secular government meetings. It approves paying congressional chaplains to pray at meetings of both Houses of Congress.

    That same Catholic court also declared that money is speech and corporations are people. Big surprise. This country is “going to hell in a hand basket.” It never has been a democracy.

    While religion is on the decline generally throughout the population, members of Congress and the federal courts are on the payroll of tax-free churches or receive their benefits. Federal judges are ignored when they violate our Constitution. Doesn’t that mean the Framers of our Constitution erred defining the situation for federal judges, including life-terms, making them untouchable? It is not democracy when the people have no input.

  • If it was worth doing, they would not have snuck around Congress and placed it after the fact in a no-vote decision. It was rejected when the memorial was being proposed and built. But its not like Christian Fundamentalists like taking no for an answer or like taking the feelings of others into consideration.

    Why do Christ’s followers feel the need to be so dishonest and underhanded in proclaiming their faith?

  • Why should you care that the majority of people who died fighting the Axis powers are being deliberately snubbed by a blatantly sectarian display?

    Why do fundamentalists always mistake the difference between Free Exercise of Religion and the Establishment Clause? Because they have no respect for either. The government has NO free exercise rights. It has no religion but “All of the above” or “none of the above”.

  • how did you imagine that my comment was “religious fascism”? i made no mention whatsoever about any personal belief i have/or do not have. all i was saying that some people on BOTH sides were acting like immature children displaying the “victim card”. my comments were not “disgraceful, or shameful, or a “christian display” of any sort, for that matter. and reading your words calling my comment such things as “disgraceful display of christian privledge” didnt really make any sense to me, considering , again, that i made no mention whatsoever of any personal belief, at all. and “despoiling the graves of those heros”? are you kidding me? if anything, i was trying to point out that all this fighting on both sides with the name calling and the mocking was the real “despoiling”, the real “shameful, disgraceful display” in attitudes towards those who gave their all. and again, MY fearful, blind, obedient, slavish religion is a disgrace to the names on those graves”? i think not, since i made no mention of any personal belief. your rude, and insulting, in my case, for no reason. if you are a troll, who does nothing but run around looking for trouble, well then, good for you. next time try to find somebody who deserves it, ok?

  • @Ken,

    You said, “and all the militant athiests are doing is acting like babies that didnt get their way on the playground”….”people need to stop playing the victim card. on both sides…”

    That is disgraceful and dripping with self-righteousness and Christians privilege – you don’t see that it is fascist because you are insensitive to witch burnings.

    There IS a victim here!
    In Fact there are a fistful:

    1. The Constitution
    2. The Establishment Clause which forbids Government from establishing a religion.
    3. Every Atheist who died in World War 2.
    4. Every non-Christian who died in WW2.
    5. The non believers across America who are now being told their country is not about freedom but is INSTEAD ABOUT SERVICE TO THE KILLER GOD YAHWEH AND HIS BLOODTHIRSTY HUMAN SACRIFICE OF JESUS UPON THE ALTER OF WORSHIP!

    And your ignorance is inexcusable.

    If the United States of America is NOT about freedom but is instead about OUR COLLECTIVE FORCED SLAVERY TO THE PRINCIPLES OF THE KILLER GOD YAHWEH we Atheists have every reason rebel against YOUR assault on our freedom!

  • atheist max…you apparently see only what you want to see, and dont mind at all taking what i said and turning it into a complete mess…your the one who sounds like a trumpeting self righteous puppet. you label my words as dripping with “christian priveledge”..i dont think so. you all DO sound like bunch of whinybabies. thats not any “christian priveledge”, thats just honest observation.if i were “dripping with self righteousness and christian priveledge”, i would have said “atheists” were acting like babies..instead, what i said was “both sides are acting like babies”..thats not “priveledge”, thats honest observation…and in fact, i DID say that what those soldiers fought and died for was “freedom”..did you not see that, or do you have “selective blindness”? and you little insults that imply that im insensitive to witch burnings, which is odd, because i havent seen one in my lifetime, so one must wonder exactly what YOUVE seen, are just insults that mean nothing to me. and yet you speak to me as if you know me. your insults and self righteous condemnation of me, with your comment that says “MY ignorance is inexscusable”, sounds an awful lot like the christian judgementalism you seem to be railing against. my comment wasnt intended to be some diatribe on politics and religion, somehow minimizing what happened on d day. my comment was intended to expose how you and the rest of your ilk will take anything and everything to use as an excuse to mock and critisize christians. you seem to be content blasting away at them ( and me) using this solemn day of rememberance for your OWN pulpit pounding need to be heard. i said everyone on BOTH sides were acting like babies ( for people like you who dont seem to get that, i mean both Christians AND atheists, not one or the other. THATS what i meant by the victim card, its people like YOU who use any opportunity to cry out loud how oppressed you are, while at the same time belittle people like me by trying to distort and twist my post into something that it never said. your attack on ME is disgraceful. and your incoherent ramblings about such things as my apparent lack of concern for the atheist dead on d day ( which is also not true , because i did mention them along with christian the same sentence, no less, not suprised you missed that one. you couldnt paint me in the negative light that your trying so desperately to do if you actually read what i wrote, that gave credit to ALL the fallen soldiers, and pointed to both athiest AND christians alike as having the “baby ” attitude. your intentional misunderstanding and misreading of what i said goes a LONG way to validate my point about how athiests ( and lots of christians too) play the vicitim card..your words that condemn me, on a personal level without even knowing me, is whats disgraceful. none of what you accused me of saying, no matter how you spin it, is actually what i was saying. but i think you already knew that. i wont play your games. i said what i believe needed to be said, thats all i intended to do. now you can take your own “dripping self righteousness” and troll somebody else.

  • @Ken,

    “i said everyone on BOTH sides were acting like babies”

    It is as if you were addressing slaves and their masters
    WITH EQUAL MORAL WEIGHT as if one of them were NOT a COMPLETE victim of the other!

    You simply cannot bring yourself to stop repeating
    this casual fascism!

    Christians have pushed us Atheists around long enough!
    I will not be equated with those who would besmirch the memory of their bravery for freedom and replace their valor

    “Thy will be done, Almighty God.”

    GET IT?

  • @Larry,

    I agree completely.

    And This is how the prayer ends:
    “Thy will be done, Almighty God.”

    America does not carry out the ‘will’ of the Lord.
    Such a thing would be unforgivable under the Constitution!

  • wow, atheist max…NOW im addressing “slaves and Masters? wow. im done with you. your a lost cause, by any stretch of the imagination. and now im a fascist, because i call babies babies instead of picking sides in a stupid fight that makes no sense? well, except to people like you, who, without some hot air to blow around on the internet would be very boring people. if this was such an important issue as you and others like you seem to think it is, why are you stuck to the internet? why dont you little hypocrites get out there and shape your little utopia by physical hands? no..instead you mock people like me, who expressed what i felt needed to be said with all the whining and bickering going on, and once again, you turn it into something foul, first by refrencing my attitude as some sort of slave owner, which was offensive right down to the core, and then standing on your soap box shouting out like your calling for a war between atheists, and everybody else.and dont worry about being “equated” with those who besmirch their bravery”, because your pretty much in a class all by yourself on that score. and you called me a fascist, by saying i cant bring myself to stop repeating this “casual fascism”…thats funny, because all i WAS doing was expressing frustration over all the crap i see on the internet about this subject, basically YOUR kind of crap. i dont have to “besmirch” you..your words and attitude and your juvenile attempts at bullying do that fine all by itself…and do i “GET IT”? what was that? did you sit there and type that while your sticking your thumb in your nose like you think your the tough kid on the playground? your a funny guy..and no longer worth my time. you just like to spew venom for the sake of feeling big and bad about yourself…your insecurity is NOT my problem. neither are your petty insults and spins and twists to make me sound like some bad guy. your an a**hole, and i have no desire to spend anymore time speaking rational good sense to an arrogant a**hole who’s got nothing better to do than to try and make a lie out of every word i said. have a nice day.

  • @Ken,

    The disgraceful prayer which will be placed on these American soldier’s graves ends:
    “Thy will be done, Almighty God.”


    “As you approach a town to attack it, first offer its people terms for peace. If they accept your terms and open the gates to you, then all the people inside will serve you in forced labor.” (Deut. 20:10)


    “They must be dividing the spoils they took: there must be a DAMSEL OR TWO for each man, Spoils of dyed cloth as Sisera’s spoil, an ornate shawl or two for me in the spoil.” (Judges 5:30)
    What moral preaching is this?


    “Anyone who is captured will be run through with a sword. Their little children will be dashed to death right before their eyes.” (Isaiah 13:15)
    Jesus agrees! (JOHN 1:17), (Mark 10:19)
    Suicide bombers get their morality from YOUR god too.

    OR THIS?

    “Kill non-believers” – (Deuteronomy 13:7-12)




  • I do not have the right to take a religious cross off the grave of a Christian soldier!

    How dare Christians insist that THEY HAVE THE RIGHT to put a cross on the grave of my Atheist Uncle !?

    You Christians are a selfish, solipsistic bunch!

  • The reason why its a Christian Prayer is because if not for the Christian and Jewish soldiers, you would not be able to spew ignorance about the subject in the 1st place. Take a look at the sea of crosses at Normandy Cemetery in Colleville sur Mer in France and then dwell on that and appreciate that brave Christian men gave their lives for even atheist like you to spit on their memory. You unappreciative, feeble minded dolt. Even the three men who thought they were atheist converted in the middle of battle. It blows my mind how atheism goes out the window when confronted by death. People are taught to be atheist, some are indoctrinated into atheism, some are born atheist but there has yet to be ONE person who dies an atheist.

  • Why would they, it was Christians that fought and died for those higher ideals. It was Christian philosophy that manifested into the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. It was Christian men who authored and fathered the idea we call America. Thats inarguable. You have it backwards. Christians created documents promulgating that we are ENDOWED BY OUR CREATOR with rights even if you choose to not believe in God, it wasnt stipulative on being Endowed by men to choose to believe in a creator if we want. Our forefathers were devout Christians who wanted people to have the right to NOT believe. It wasn’t that they were non Christians who wanted people to have the right TOO believe. So like I said, you have it backwards. How quickly we forget that throughout our history of protecting the freedoms and the “higher ideals” that you take for granted. From the revolutionary war to Iraq and Afghanistan, it was Christian men who sacrificed by a 95 to 5 ratio and of the 5 in that ratio who werent Jewish, were prayed over by Christian Chaplains who risked their lives sometimes giving their lives to give those non believers on the battlefield their last salvation prayers. Atheists never die atheists. Oh, they see the light when confronted with death. But if its any consultation to you, their is one thing in common you share with some participants in some of those wars. You Atheists have everything in common with our enemies like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Fidel Castro, and Osama Bin Laden the first five were Atheists just like you and the last one hated Christians just like you. Your kind had a lot to do with not only killing our soldiers but murdering hundreds of millions of people throughout world history. So next time you hear about a cross or a prayer plaque, just think of how many Christian men died to preserve your right to be ignorant and just say thank you to a God you might not know yet (that knows you) that gave these men the courage, bound by faith and revealed to them through the scripture John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for his friends.

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