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Editor’s note: The following letters were taken from our Web site, www.dailyvanguard.com, in response to Nicholaus Krichevsky’s column “One nation under [email protected]#?,” which was originally published in Vanguard Vol. 58, Issue 19 on Friday, Oct. 31, 2003.

I hate to rain on your parade, but the Pledge of Allegiance is/was:

a) First written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, and so had nothing to do with the Constitution.

b) Had nothing to do with God: “‘I pledge allegiance to my Flag and (to*) the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’ He considered placing the word, ‘equality’ in his Pledge, but knew that the state superintendents of education on his committee were against equality for women and African Americans. [* “to” added in October 1892.]”

c) The line “under god” being added by pressure of the Knights of Columbus in 1954.

Lastly, the author of the pledge was strongly socialist and felt that equality was due to all. “The true reason for allegiance to the Flag is the ‘republic for which it stands.’ … And what does that vast thing, the Republic mean? It is the concise political word for the Nation – the One Nation which the Civil War was fought to prove. To make that One Nation idea clear, we must specify that it is indivisible, as Webster and Lincoln used to repeat in their great speeches.”

James

student

Portland

America was not founded as a Christian nation. The framers intentionally set this country up to be a secular Democratic Republic. They recognized the problems that come from religion and government becoming intertwined, and wrote the Constitution to avoid them. The only way to have freedom of religion is for the government to remain strictly neutral in all matters of religion.

You mentioned that the term God is non-sectarian, but that does not make it okay. The term God is religious in nature, not to mention specifically monotheistic, and therefore isn’t neutral. There are Americans who don’t believe in God at all, such as buddhists and atheists. There are pagan religions who are polytheistic. When “under God” was added to the pledge, it was specifically stated that the purpose was to ensure that we, as a country, remained loyal to almighty God. To try to say that this is ceremonial is to outright lie.

While this issue is not the most important today, it can open the door to fixing the bigger problems we have, and helping to keep America from becoming a Christian theocracy, the very thing the framers were against.

In short, nobody is saying that our citizens shouldn’t have spirituality. Every individual in America has the right to worship as they see fit. No one is trying to take that away from them.

The point I am trying to make is that religion can flourish in this country without the government’s help. About 86 percent of the population of America identifies with some kind of faith. There are churches on almost every corner in this country, of every denomination. With the options for places to worship being so open, do we really need religious messages in courthouses, government building and public schools? No. Anyone who says different merely wants license to use government power to proselytize their religion.

Look at history to see what happens when religion has power in government. Look at the Middle East to see what happens when religion has power in government. Do you really want America to end up as another oppressive theocracy?

John

ARE YOU A RELIGOUS BIGOT?

“It’s the institution I have a problems with not the core message.” – Nick

You are not an atheist and clearly have little comprehension of the issues and motivations behind this case. As an atheist, I’ll provide another perspective.

“Well, he (Newdow) seems to have had a problem with his daughter hearing the “one nation under God” bit of the pledge.” – Nick

We strongly object to the daily state-sponsored coercion of our children into affirming the existence of God. Asking us to sit down and remain silent is not appropriate. We are not second-class citizens! Can’t we find a way for all students to express their patriotism that is not couched in religious ideology?

“So the word “God” in the Pledge seems to be a bit vague, and therefore is not “respecting an establishment of religion,” as the first amendment reads.” – Nick

No atheist would consider the words “under God” vague! Please consider what it would be like if the Pledge were altered to read “one nation under no God”. Would you consider that a vague statement regarding religion? Imagine what it would be like to send your kindergartner to school. Of course, that would be just as unconstitutional and just as unethical because the government would be promoting atheism over theism.

A little history:

At the urging of the Knights of Columbus, Congress passed legislation in 1954 that added the phrase “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance. When President Eisenhower signed the legislation into law, he expressed his hope that “millions of our schoolchildren (would) daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural schoolhouse, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty.” Clearly the phrase “under God” serves no secular purpose.

“U.S. is undoubtedly a Christian nation. ” – Nick

That’s like saying that the U.S is a caucasian nation (for whites only). Are you really such a religious bigot?

Even if founded by white Christian men, our country should be religion neutral. We have had to work hard for the rights of blacks, women and other minorities. For atheists and other religious minorities, that struggle continues today.

“Does anybody else think it’s a little Third Reich-ish to require students to participate in patriotic activities?” – Nick

One thing we can agree on!

Norman

[email protected]

Educator

San Francisco

What’s all the hoopla about? We should be having a fit about the words “liberty and justice for all.” Sure the words are still there, but the meaning went into the toilet with the Patriot Act. Perhaps I should file a suit, too!

H

Heterodox

Human Being

Caifornia

“Christian nation”? I think not. –> “As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion, – as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen, – and as the said states never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mohammedan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever interrupt the harmony existing between the two countries.” – Treaty of Tripoli, 1797.

This may be a nation with a Christian majority, but a “Christian nation”? Not without treasonous overthrow of the Constitution.

Lowell Skelton

Veteran, patriot, atheist, VOTER

MD