The Daughters of the American Revolution, one of the nation’s oldest patriotic organizations, has erased any mention of Jesus Christ in their official book, removed prayers and poems that reference Christian imagery, and directed members to refrain from praying in the name of Christ, an outraged group of members alleged.
The dispute has been brewing for more than a year when DAR members learned that the newly revised Ritual and Missal books – the primary guide for chaplains – were altered. They noticed that the name of Jesus Christ had been omitted.
The DAR president general did not return calls seeking comment for this story.
The members said DAR leadership made the changes to be politically correct and to accommodate new members of other religious beliefs.
A state chaplain in the organization notified members of their concerns in a newsletter.
“The newly updated Missal and Ritual was written to reflect the desire to be considerate of other belief systems,” the statement read. “The Chaplain General uses scripture from both the Old and New Testaments and prays in the name of God without reference Christ. Chapter and district chaplains need to follow the example set by the National Society.”
The statement also reminded members to “appreciate the differences in members’ religious beliefs and to adapt our rituals and prayers to respect these differences.”
That directive has infuriated rank and file members of the DAR – an organization that is deeply rooted in the Christian faith.
Several members of the DAR spoke with Fox News about their concerns – on the condition they remain anonymous.
“They are changing the legacy and intent of the Founding Ladies and rewriting the history of the Daughters of the American Revolution,” one member told Fox News. “How dare they? They’re supposed to be doing it out of inclusion. To me, it’s exclusion. If they are saying it’s because of religious tolerance – my question is – if someone is so incensed over the name of Jesus and words like ‘white crosses’ that reference soldiers who died for America – is it not they who are intolerant?”
“A group of us went through the Ritual and Missal and compared the old version and the new version,” another member told Fox News. “Every single prayer closing in the name of Jesus Christ no longer included the name of Jesus Christ.”
“For 122 years Christianity was included in the Daughters of the American Revolution,” said one member. “Without the name of Jesus Christ it is surely not Christianity. This has never been an issue until December of 2011.”
The DAR was founded in 1890 as a non-profit, non-political volunteer women’s service organization. Membership is open to any woman who can prove they are a lineal descendant of a patriot from the American Revolution. The organization has 170,000 members in 3,000 chapters.
The members said they tried to bring their concerns to the organization’s leadership but were rebuffed.
“The response from the leadership was one of being inclusive and being sensitive to non-Christians and other beliefs,” a member said. “The minority rules instead of the majority.”
One chaplain said it broke her heart to take Jesus out of the prayers and there are reports that some members have resigned.
The members said they were particularly disturbed that the changes were made without the vote or the approval of the 170,000 membership.
And many are perplexed over who might be so offended by the mere mention of the name of Christ.
“Who is it that is so incensed over the name of Jesus and any Christian symbol or reference – that they feel like they have to eliminate it from the Daughters of the American Revolution,” one member asked.
They said Christianity had never been forced on any members but to remove it from the historic organization’s documents is a “deception and twisting of history.”
“They are negating our history, changing our history,” one lady told Fox News. “This country was blessed by God Himself. Most of our Founding Fathers had Bibles in their hands and Jesus in their hearts and therefore America became what America is today. And through the last decade, it’s been a constant chiseling away of our Christian foundation – our Judeo-Christian foundation.”
UPDATE: The Daughters of the American Revolution did not return telephone calls or email seeking comment on the story. However, on Thursday they released a statement calling allegations they have removed the name “Jesus Christ” from their Ritual & Missal “false and incorrect.”
Following is their statement:
“NSDAR is disappointed to learn that false and incorrect information has recently been circulated regarding the 2011 edition of the DAR Ritual and Missal and the use of the name Jesus Christ in prayers and other ceremonial events of the National Society. The purpose of this message is to clarify NSDAR’s position on the matter for anyone who has not previously viewed the blogs written by President General Merry Ann T. Wright.
First, the question was posed by a national media group that if the motto of DAR is God, Home and Country, then “…why is DAR taking out references to God…” in its printed material. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, as currently written, the 113 page Ritual and Missal contains over 300 references to “Almighty God,” “Great God our King” (America hymn), “Our Heavenly Father,” “Heavenly Father,” “God of Hosts,” “God,” “Lord,” “Eternal God,” “Your Holy Spirit,” “Lord your God,” “Gracious Lord,” “Almighty and Everlasting God,” “Gracious Father,” and similar variations.
Second, the allegation has been leveled that Chaplains and others have been told not to pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Again, this is an absolute falsehood. Each Chaplain and other officers are strongly encouraged to create their own prayers into which they may insert the name of Jesus Christ as deemed appropriate for the occasion and the audience. This is what the President General wrote in her blog of April 10, 2012 when questions about the change to the Ritual and Missal first arose:
The Executive Officers believe that the new Ritual and Missal can be used by members of any faith, substituting words as they wish, changing the prayers to suit the needs of the meeting in which they are being used. At our Executive meetings, knowing that we are all Christian, we pray in the Name of Jesus. When those are present whose faith is unknown, we pray in God’s name. However, we all recognize that when Christians pray in God’s name we are, indeed, praying in Christ’s name because the Christian faith believes in the Trinity of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We also understand that our Jewish members know God as Jehovah or Yahweh, Muslim members use the name Allah for God and there are those whose spirituality may have a still different higher power or none at all.
We have in no way mandated that one must or must not use the name of Jesus Christ in the prayers. In our DAR rituals, prayers are included. Most of the prayers begin with “Our Father” or “Almighty God” and end “in Your Holy Name.” Christ’s prayer, known as The Lord’s Prayer, the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, Easter and Passover prayers and prayers for other religious observances are included.
The above passage also addresses the last major falsehood: that the name of Christ has been totally removed from the Ritual and Missal. That simply is not the case.
In promoting the importance of freedom of religion upon which our country was founded, our Founding Fathers intended for all religions and not one specific faith to be allowed and respected. The Constitution of the United States of America is clear on this issue as are many of the letters and writings of these great leaders. It was in spirit of our Founding Fathers desire for freedom of religion that the most recent changes to the Ritual and Missal were made.”