June 28, 2002

'Under God': A Decision That Jolted America

To the Editor:

Re "Judges Ban Pledge of Allegiance From Schools, Citing 'Under God' " (front page, June 27):

I am outraged at the court decision rendering the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional. It makes us forget that we are part of something bigger than ourselves and does nothing to promote the principles we claim to represent to the world.

Everyone's so concerned about individual rights that we forget about what those words intended: that we live by the principle of good over evil and show compassion for our fellow human beings. Aren't these among the tenets of any religion?

The misguided thinking of this decision is like that behind the "me" mentality, which is so prevalent today. It is evident in road rage and in the corruption of corporations. How can we have liberty and justice for all when everyone's so concerned about himself?
TINA MARIE SOHA
New Hyde Park, N.Y., June 27, 2002

To the Editor:

As a young public school pupil, I felt uncomfortable reciting "One nation, under God" during the Pledge of Allegiance (front page, June 27). While I believed in my country's being one nation and indivisible, I did not understand it to be "under God."

Over time I began omitting the reference, listening silently as my classmates repeated these two words and wondering if by doing so I was being bad — breaking a rule or even violating a law. Yet I knew, and still know, my faith and pride in my country to be boundless.

The pledge should not teach children that allegiance to this nation is somehow marred by not believing in God.
CHARLES H. BAGLEY
Seattle, June 27, 2002

To the Editor:

Re "Judges Ban Pledge of Allegiance From Schools, Citing `Under God' " (front page, June 27):

When Congress inserted the words "under God" into the pledge in 1954, it likely had the Judeo-Christian God in mind. While that continues to represent the thinking of most Americans, the words can just as easily be applied to the beliefs of many others.

As an American Muslim growing up in Brooklyn, I remember learning to recite the pledge in elementary school and feeling no confusion because I felt the words applied to the same God of Abraham that Muslims, Christians and Jews worship. My Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh classmates did not have a problem either because the words applied to the Supreme Being they worship.

As long as people who believe in God make up a majority of Americans, the words "under God" should stay. If atheists and agnostics ever become a majority God forbid, some would say — the words should go.
HUMAYUN J. CHAUDHRY
Old Westbury, N.Y., June 27, 2002

To the Editor:

Re "Judges Ban Pledge of Allegiance From Schools, Citing `Under God' " (front page, June 27):

When I went to elementary and high school, all of the students pledged allegiance to the flag without reciting "under God." When we got out, we fought World War II, and to some we were the greatest generation. I was shocked when Congress tampered with this age-old pledge during the McCarthy period.

What's wrong with finally going back to the original version? Hooray for the two judges who had the courage to say the alteration violated separation of church and state.
ROBERT E. YOUNG
West Orange, N.J., June 27, 2002

To the Editor:

Re "Judges Ban Pledge of Allegiance From Schools, Citing `Under God' " (front page, June 27):

I view this ruling with contempt, and all similar rulings that try to declare unconstitutional all references to God.

The judicial activists who sit on our high courts will continue to try to fashion new meanings of our Constitution and thereby use the judicial branch for policy making rather than for fact-finding — in effect, transforming the courts into an extension of Congressional authority, and thereby violating the separation-of-powers doctrine.
RISHI S. BHATT
San Diego, June 27, 2002

To the Editor:

Re "'One Nation Under God' " (editorial, June 27):

We are not one nation under God. We are one nation under a Constitution that gives us the freedom to believe or not believe in anything we want.
STEVEN KOZAK
New York, June 27, 2002

To the Editor:

Perhaps the saddest aspect of the court decision against the inclusion of the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance (front page, June 27) is the assumption that atheists, even when children, would suffer irreparable harm if forced to hear these words uttered in unison in a classroom.

But, luckily, young minds are much more cynical and more suspicious of authority than adults give them credit for. And sitting through such empty recitations on a daily basis will surely lead many students, especially those with active minds, to a healthy contempt for the herd mentality inflicted on them by politicians, judges, teachers and parents.
G. D. WOLKOVICZ
West Hartford, Conn., June 27, 2002

To the Editor:

In light of the court decision declaring the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional (front page, June 27), I assume that our currency will have to be reminted to eliminate the phrase "In God We Trust."
MARTIN LEVIN
Milford, Conn., June 27, 2002

To the Editor:

Ruling that the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance violate the First Amendment, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit did not only abandon "common sense" and confuse a "rote civic exercise" with a "prayer," as a June 27 editorial says. It also undermined the belief of the overwhelming majority of American students and their parents that this nation is under divine influence.

Taking out the routine declaration will mean that very few students say it in the morning. If the phrase were left in, the majority of students could maintain their tradition, and the tiny minority could just skip those two words.
ZACHARY A. GOLDFARB
New York, June 27, 2002

To the Editor:

Although a June 27 editorial is correct to assert that the ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on the Pledge of Allegiance will invite a political backlash and is almost certain to be overturned by the Supreme Court, I cannot agree that it trivializes the principle of separation of church and state. The inclusion of the phrase "under God" in our pledge glibly assumes the existence of God and indoctrinates young minds to accept it.

For loyal Americans who devoutly believe that there is no God, this is profoundly offensive.
VICTOR A. ALTSHUL
New Haven, June 27, 2002

To the Editor:

In Washington, cheap populism never goes out of style, which is why both Democrats and Republicans loudly abuse a federal appeals court for its Pledge of Allegiance decision ("Lawmakers Vow to Fight Judges' Ruling on the Pledge," news article, June 27).

Our lawmakers may get the reversal they seek from a Supreme Court that has often fudged the separation of church and state, if not from the full appeals court. But how will they learn what should be obvious after Sept. 11: freedom of religion, which also entails freedom from religion, is one of America's great strengths?
JEROME M. BALSAM
New York, June 27, 2002

To the Editor:

In your criticism of the federal appeals court ruling that the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance violate the First Amendment, you say, "A generic two-word reference to God tucked inside a rote civic exercise is not a prayer" (editorial, June 27). By your own words, you have demonstrated how God and religion have become trivialized in American society.

Regular, sincere prayer at a house of worship or in private and the performance of God's commandments — not generic, rote civic exercises, slogans on money or imposing religion on atheists — are what truly serve God.
(Rabbi) JAY S. LAPIDUS
West Hartford, Conn., June 27, 2002

To the Editor:

As a believer in God and a supporter of the Pledge of Allegiance, I take offense at the suggestion that any words in this pledge lose their meaning through repetition (editorial, June 27). To assume that the words "under God" lose their reference to religion through repetition is most mistaken, especially considering the reaction it inflamed in the religious right.

These words, though inserted in the pledge in 1954, have every much the same strength of meaning today as then.

The whole Pledge of Allegiance has very strong meaning and should be strengthened even more with the removal of "under God."
DAVID C. GIFFORD
Lafayette, N.J., June 27, 2002

To the Editor:

Re "One Nation Under God" (editorial, June 27):

Aren't there more important things in life to worry about than a couple of words that were arbitrarily inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance half a century ago?

I see no reason for nonbelievers to be offended by the insertion of these two additional words, for, as non- believers, these words should mean absolutely nothing.

As to the believers: if it brings a little joy into their lives, so be it.
STANLEY BLOCK
Bronx, June 27, 2002


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