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Tampering With the Pledge

July 01, 2002

I let out a loud "whoopee" when I read The Times' June 27 front-page articles on Michael Newdow's victory in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on the unconstitutionality of the 1954 politically motivated "under God" add-on to the original Pledge of Allegiance. And thanks for publicizing the history of the pledge. Too few citizens even realize that the original wording was " ... and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

I was 11 when they thrust the "under God" edit upon the pledge. I was offended then as a nonbeliever, and as a firm believer in the absolute separation between church and state, became more so over the years. I have refused to utter "those words" when reciting our pledge for over 47 years. Let the old pledge be restored--glorious, proud and free. God can go elsewhere.

Alexandra Cowie

Los Angeles

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Newdow's successful prodding of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to make a momentously myopic decision regarding the Pledge of Allegiance is ironic on two counts. First, a major contingent of the American populace will now actually pay attention to the flag salute, rather than mumbling through it with minds engaged elsewhere, and may even ponder what it means. Second, Newdow's daughter, purported to be "injured" by having to endure the pledge in her second-grade class, will now no doubt be subjected to harassment beyond her father's wildest dreams. If he was so determined to be the prickly hair on the tail that would wag the national dog, he should have left her out of it.

No doubt cooler judicial heads will prevail and overturn this ruling, as The Times' well-stated editorial ("A Godforsaken Ruling," June 27) suggests. In the meantime, those who take the phrase "under God" seriously can begin by expressing their heartfelt views in a civilized manner. God is not honored by obscene phone calls to Newdow, or anyone else.

Paul C. Reisser

Thousand Oaks

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A Godforsaken ruling? What part of "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" don't you understand?

Mary St. Martin

Pomona

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Re the Newdow ruling on pledge: This is what makes America great and worth living in; when a regular citizen can challenge the government and win a ruling in his favor. For people like me who have grown up in oppressive countries where you couldn't breathe a word against the ruler, this is a breath of fresh air. This is what makes the flag worth saluting.

Shaila Andrabi

Claremont

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I'm an atheist and, for heaven's sake, I find it absolutely ridiculous that people with too much time on their hands choose to go after such petty, worthless issues as the phrase "under God." To Michael Newdow I say, go get involved with the Wilderness Society or women's shelters, volunteer at orphanages or hospitals, be a mentor.

Instead of teaching your daughter to really make a difference, you're showing her how "cool" it is that this country allows attention-hungry individuals to get their picture in the papers by way of frivolous lawsuits.

Indra Z. Birrell

Sherman Oaks

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I am a "born-again atheist" and have been for more than 10 years. I proudly sing our patriotic songs and loudly say the Pledge of Allegiance in its entirety. However, while most people say the word "God," I am saying the word "guard." And with George W. Bush taking away our freedoms day by day, I think I'm singing the right tune.

Wayne Wilsonn

Garden Grove

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Gosh, there must be a lot of different Gods around, because so many different people champion so many different causes all in the name of God. To settle the current controversy perhaps all we need is enlightenment. We need to know under whose God, or under which God, it is that we are indivisible.

Elliot Rosenthal

Fullerton

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Politicians are often criticized for pandering to the masses, but in light of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision on the Pledge of Allegiance, who can blame them? Politicians of all stripes immediately ridiculed the court's well-reasoned opinion (probably without reading it) and, indeed, it would have been political suicide to have even suggested that the court's opinion should be read and considered before passing judgment.

Politicians know the bottom line: that the general public has as much of an interest in independent thought as a herd of sheep.

Jeffrey Evans

Silver Lake

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