Lawmaker wants God on state Capitol wall
Resolution moving forward, words to come from Preamble of Constitution
By Bob Baysinger
February 17, 2004
JEFFERSON CITY – A Missouri House of Representatives committee has approved and forwarded to the full House a resolution that would put God on a House Chamber wall at the state Capitol.
Rob Schaaf, a Republican state representative from St. Joseph, introduced the resolution, which calls for the Preamble to the Missouri Constitution to be prominently displayed in the House Chamber and the “costs associated with the creation and installation be paid for by donations from members of the House of Representatives."
The Preamble makes reference to God in the opening sentence: “We, the people of Missouri, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, and grateful for His goodness, do establish this Constitution for the better government of the state … ."
Urging the committee to approve his resolution, Schaaf told fellow lawmakers that the Preamble is “beautiful and meaningful."
“The Constitution is the basis for all we do," he said. “Indeed, right now, we’re functioning as outlined by the Constitution. Displaying the Preamble would serve as a reminder as to why we have it – for the better government of the state," Schaaf, who told The Pathway that he does not identify with any denomination in the St. Joseph area.
“But I am a Christian," he added.
Schaff said the Preamble should also be displayed because it describes the mood of the state’s founding fathers as they wrote the Constitution.
“Their mood was one of profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe and (an expression of) gratefulness for His goodness," Schaaf said. “That is the mood in which we should do all of our work."
Schaaf said maybe the most important quality of the Preamble is that “it implies the existence of God."
“That makes its display timely in light of recent erosions into our ability as a nation to acknowledge that existence," he continued. “If there is any debate over this resolution, it will stem from those words in the Preamble.
“The message I want to send to the world by displaying this Preamble is that we here in Missouri are not afraid to put such an acknowledgement in our Constitution and we’re not afraid to display it proudly and prominently in our Capitol for everyone to see."
There was no opposition to the resolution at the hearing.
Gary Marble, a former state representative, testified for the proposal.
Marble, now a member of Concord Baptist Church, Jefferson City, reminded the committee of two national tragedies – the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11 – when the nation as a whole, including lawmakers, took their concerns to God in prayer.
“We took a moment those days to pray for those who were involved," Marble said, implying that no one was ashamed of God during those tragedies. “This (reference to God in the Preamble) is something that is already in our Constitution. It has been agreed to. I would urge you to put it on the wall."
The only concern expressed during the committee hearing came from a state representative who wanted to know the meaning of “prominently displayed" and who would be in charge of determining the location of the display.
Schaaf told The Pathway he is not adamant about how the Preamble will be posted. Possibilities, he said, range from a sign to being etched in stone.
“This is not something that is religious based," he said. “It will be difficult to argue that this is unconstitutional because of separation of church and state because it’s already a part of our constitution.
“Putting it on the wall of the House Chamber would be a tribute to the makers of the Constitution and their belief in God. And I don’t think we should be afraid of saying what we are about."