Thursday, March 25, 2004

I seem to have become the kind of person who writes letters to the editor. Or maybe the Trib just makes me do it.

There was an article yesterday about the Supreme Court challenge to the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. It included a quote from a lawyer named Steven Aden, who claimed that the decision amounted to deciding the question "Does God exist or not?" and that in removing the words, the court would be declaring "that we can't know if God exists." Aden was identified with something called the "Center for Law and Religious Freedom," which sounds like some kind of innocuous think tank but, like most such entities these days, is just a cover for a group called the Christian Legal Society. I guess the Trib thought that if they used the group's real name their "expert" might seem a tad, oh, biased.

I found some interesting stuff on the history of the pledge--including that it was originally written by a socialist minister and used to spearhead a marketing campaign for American flags--and then fired off this missive to the Trib:

Dear Editor:

Some have argued that the Supreme Court, in ruling on whether the words "under God" should remain in the Pledge of Allegiance, is deciding whether or not God exists. This is simply absurd. Did God suddenly come into being in 1954, when the words "under God" were added to the pledge? Do Jehovah's Witnesses, who refuse to say the pledge, thus deny God's existence?

Dropping "under God" from the pledge would not be a statement of atheism. It would simply acknowledge that in America, religious belief is a matter of individual conscience, not official mandate. Far more corrosive to religious belief is the bizarre position of the federal government, which argues that the pledge does not violate the separation of church and state because the words "under God" are completely meaningless--mere expressions of history and tradition, completely devoid of any religious significance.

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