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Religion vs. the Secular in Pledge and Seal Cases

June 21, 2004

Re "Worshipers at the Secular Altar," Commentary, June 17: At the end of his article, David Klinghoffer takes a swipe at secularism as a religion seeking converts. I would contend that secularism is the response to the constant and unrelenting bombardment that we all must believe or we are doomed.

Most Americans have many options, from an early age, to be educated in some religion or another. In private homes as well as plenty of public houses of worship, there are people to freely share religion with. We also have the freedom not to do this.

For those in the powerful religious lobby, the majority of whom are Christian, that isn't enough. There are demands for prayer, creationism in public schools, monuments in public buildings and affiliation from public servants such as the president. We shouldn't have to go to court for relief from the onslaught of religious messages and preaching from ad hoc disciples in every segment of our lives. Our society is showing signs of buckling under the weight of it.

Regan DuCasse

North Hollywood

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If secularism is a religion, as Klinghoffer says, he misses one important parallel between it and other religions. Jewish and Islamic law may have shaped the laws of countries around the world, but "secular law" (if it can be called that) is nothing but the law of the land. In Michael Newdow's case regarding the Pledge of Allegiance and the ACLU's regarding the Los Angeles County seal, there's no "my religion is better than yours" involved. These cases are nothing more than U.S. law brushing up against religious tradition.

If one is religious, the cases may be frustrating, but thoughtful people will soon realize that to an atheist, "under God" is as much a sponsorship of religion as "under Allah" would be to, say, a Jew or a Christian. Legality trumps spirituality every time.

Tim Nunan

Rolling Hills Estates

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Klinghoffer stretches the definition of religion a bit. For a reductio ad absurdum, we may consider baseball a religion, for it has: a house of worship (ballparks), a clergy hierarchy (commissioner, umpires, managers, coaches), sacrifices (bunts), communion (hot dogs and beer), flood stories (rainouts), a fall from grace (sent back to the minors), eternal life (election to the Hall of Fame), punishments for sins (removal from the game), miracles (pitchers hitting grand slams) and conversions (becoming a devoted fan).

Go Dodger Blue!

David M. Keranen

Bakersfield

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