An Inclusive Litany


Excerpts from all nine letters to the editor printed in the Boston Globe, June 29, 2002.
I am writing to support the ruling that the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional. While it is clear that patriotism should be fostered and encouraged, it cannot be forced....

—Jan Hardenbergh, Sudbury

Michael Newdow, the man who sued so that his daughter would not have to recite or hear the Pledge of Allegiance and thereby swear an affirmation on the existence of "God," has already begun receiving death threats, a typical response from people of deeply held religious beliefs. The outrage over the ruling from President Bush, various senators, and other members of Congress proves that this country, sadly, is a theocracy and those who are agnostic, atheistic, or not monotheistic are at best tolerated.

—William M. Shoucair, Boston

When I went to school in the 1930s we did not say "under God" in our morning pledge. Tom Brokaw calls my parents "the greatest generation." Since those two words were added 50 years ago, we have had My Lai, Selma, drugs, Jeffrey Dahmer, Littleton, free sex, steroids, Monica Lewinski, Enron, and Worldcom. Are we a more godly country now?

—John B. Holway, Springfield, Va.

Hurray for Derrick Z. Jackson's reasoned voice on what the court ruling against the words "under God" in our pledge really mean. We live in a society of religious intolerance not unlike the rest of the world. Separation of religion from government is the only way to assure freedom from governmental preferences of one religion over another and to assure the rights of atheists.

—Barbara Smith, South Hamilton

I support the decision concerning the Pledge of Allegiance, but I fear that the opinion will be overturned by those in the majority who believe in a God. They will insist that I, as a humanist, must accept their religious dogma to be patriotic. We should return to the original pledge on which we can all agree by simply removing the words "under God."

And in this vein, and for those who do understand, we should take a red pen and neatly cross through the words "In God we trust" on all our paper currency.

—Steve Schwartz, Orlando, Fla.

Why is it that all the church-state cases involve only children? They cannot pray in school or at sporting events, hold religious meetings on school property, and now cannot recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Yet in the adult world, prayers and religious meetings are held in public buildings every day. At baseball and football games, religious moments are to be expected. Campaigning for government offices has candidates standing behind church pulpits, which crosses the line in keeping church and state separated.

—Hazel O. Edwards, Houston

To all conservative Americans who are outraged that the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco has ruled that the Pledge of Allegiance is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion and cannot be recited in schools, it should be noted that the Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by a leading Christian Socialist, Francis Bellamy, who was fired from his Boston ministry for his sermons depicting Jesus as a socialist.

Bellamy penned the Pledge of Allegiance for Youth's Companion, a magazine for young people published in Boston. Congress did not recognize the Pledge of Allegiance until 1942, and the words "under God" were added by Congress in 1954.

Most Americans are unaware that many of our patriotic icons and symbols of American identity were created by artists and writers of decidedly left-wing and even socialist sympathies.

—S. Melmouth, Peoria, Ariz.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, unlike those outraged by its decision on the Pledge of Allegiance, understands that the world has changed since the end of the Cold War. In 1954, when "under God" was inserted in the Pledge, America confronted atheistic communism; today, our enemy is religious fanaticism.

—Andre Mayer, Cambridge

If it is unconstitutional to recite the Pledge of Allegiance because it is "under God," perhaps US Courts should refrain from swearing on the Bible. I hope that these "judges" remember exactly who will be judging them in the end.

—M. Griffith, Tobyhanna, Pa.

[That last letter was the only one from that batch that registered disapproval at the ruling.]

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