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Pledge of Allegiance Takes the Stand

October 20, 2003

Re "Court Must Buck Political Pressure in Pledge Case," Commentary, Oct. 15: At first glance, Erwin Chemerinsky's argument about the need to leave out the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance seems fair. However, under scrutiny, the argument doesn't hold up. The main reason is that Chemerinsky smuggles in liberal assumptions that the writers of the Constitution never intended. When the framers of the Constitution wrote the 1st Amendment, the intention was never to remove religion from the public sphere; rather, it was simply to not have a particular denomination and, by extension, religion, be supported by the government.

This was never meant to silence the public expression of religious beliefs. Moreover, Chemerinsky and others holding to his opinion make the fatal error of assuming that religion is a purely private matter. It isn't. Not when recent polls suggest that 92% of Americans believe in God. If one doesn't want to recite the pledge with the phrase "under God," then don't. But don't tell the other 92% that they can't do so. That is not good law -- it's tyranny.

Darrin Mariott

Venice

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The present Pledge of Allegiance contains an inconsistency that has given rise to the current controversy. The phrase "under God, indivisible" is the culprit. From all the flap going on at this time, one nation under God is demonstrably divisible. A more accurate phrase might be "under God, quite divisible." A more acceptable modification probably is that either "under God" or "indivisible" be deleted, at which point the pledge flows smoothly without offending anyone and becomes consistent.

Merrill Stone

Rolling Hills Estates

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Michael Ramirez's Oct. 16 cartoon (Commentary) shows a man labeled "ACLU" advising a child to view pornography in lieu of reciting "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. That cartoon, and the implication about the ACLU, may represent a new low in political cartooning. They are scurrilous.

Harry M. Bauer

Sherman Oaks

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