Congress Considers Adding FDR Prayer to World War II Memorial

The United States Congress is considering a bill that would add a prayer given by former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Known as H.R 2175, the bill was introduced last year with the House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation holding a hearing on it Tuesday morning.

"The Secretary of the Interior … shall install in the area of the World War II Memorial in the District of Columbia a suitable plaque or an inscription with the words that President Franklin D. Roosevelt prayed with the United States on June 6, 1944, the morning of D-Day," reads the bill.

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"[The Secretary] may not use Federal funds to prepare or install the plaque or inscription referred to in paragraph (1), but may accept and expend private contributions for this purpose."

Also called the "World War II Memorial Prayer Act of 2013", the proposed bill was introduced by Republican Representative Bill Johnson of Ohio.

The prayer that H.R. 2175 seeks to have added to the World War II memorial was officially given by Roosevelt on the morning of the Normandy invasion, a crucial turning point in the Second World War.

"Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity," reads the FDR prayer in part.

"And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled."

The "World War II Memorial Prayer Act of 2013" has been considered in past sessions of Congress, passing in the House of Representatives only to stall in the Senate.

H.R. 2175 has received criticism from assorted groups who believe adding the prayer would go against the principles of religious diversity in the United States.

Simon Brown of Americans United for Separation of Church and State wrote earlier this week that the bill "disrespects America's religious diversity."

"American veterans - like those currently in the armed forces - come from many different religious traditions and some follow no spiritual path at all. Slapping a prayer onto a memorial that honors all those veterans would be an insult to both their service and their sacrifice," wrote Brown.

"The current memorial, dedicated on May 29, 2004, represents all 16 million people who served in our armed forces during World War II. It doesn't need to be altered to serve some partisan political agenda or the theocratic goals of the Religious Right."

In 2012 during one of the earlier sessions for when the proposal was debated Chris Long, president of the Ohio Christian Alliance, told The Christian Post that his organization supported the endeavor.

"It will provide future generations an opportunity to read this prayer that President Roosevelt prayed with the nation on the morning of the D-Day Landings," said Long.

"This prayer was heard by many around the world who were listening by radio as the events in Normandy were unfolding. The lives of millions were in the balance, depending on the success of the Allies' advance, and the hope and prayer of many was expressed in President Roosevelt's prayer."

The hearing for H.R. 2175 comes as the United States nears Memorial Day, a time in which there are national remembrances for those who served in the Armed Forces.

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