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July 4, 2002

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if those pilgrims hadn't ever boarded the Mayflower to come to America? Someone else would have had the honor of being the first settlers in what has become the greatest nation in the world. If you can remember way back to history class, the main reason many of these original settlers migrated to America was to escape religious persecution. They came to America for one of the basic freedoms that we now take for granted, the freedom of religion.

That's a vague term, what does it really mean? Freedom of religion means each individual has the right to choose to be a Christian or to worship Allah or to pray to Buddha. However it also means we have the right to freedom from religion, if we choose not to believe. While that is not a popular position, especially not here at home in the conservative Midwest, if we do not observe a person's right to choose their religious beliefs then we should tear up the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and start all over again.

Freedom of religion also meant the concept of separation of church and state. This meant there would be no state sanctioned or national church of choice. In my opinion, that's where this concept should stop. Instead we have allowed the idea of separation of church and state to take God out of our schools and our daily lives (and it sure shows). Freedom of religion, often is used to protect an individual's right of religious choice, but it should not be allowed to be used to prevent the majority from choosing as well.

If I want to say "one nation under God" why should a District Court of Appeals say that I can not? They did just that when they ruled the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional because it includes the phrase "Under God".

Talk about bad timing. Patriotism and national pride are riding high so naturally this attack on the Pledge has not been received well.

It's just another example of how our country lets the minority rule. In order to protect the rights of the few we must infringe upon the rights of the many. A recent Newsweek Poll reported 89 percent of Americans were against the court ruling and in favor of the Pledge of Allegiance including the term "Under God". I'm quite sure there have been a whole lot of presidents that have been elected with much less than 89 percent of the popular vote. I'd also wager that a president has more impact on our daily lives than whether or not a person is forced to feel a little uncomfortable by two words in a pledge that a majority of people likely don't have the opportunity to say with any regularity anyway.

If majority rule is good enough to pick our leaders and approve the laws which we live by everyday, why is it that despite the fact that 89 out of every 100 Americans want to say "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic, for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all," we now can not? Congress approved the insertion of the phrase into the Pledge in 1954. I would suggest if you don't like it, try to get Congress to remove the phrase and repeal the legislation. My guess is you'd have a pretty tough time with that.

If this court ruling stands (which most experts say it will not) the next thing we'll have to do to avoid offending anyone is to reprint all our money. It says "In God We Trust." If that offends you, you can give me your money - I don't mind it.

Okay folks, if you don't believe in God, don't say the pledge. If you want to show your allegiance to the nation, then say the pledge and omit the words Under God. But how can you justify forcing the majority of people to conform to your beliefs, when it is exactly that principle which you are manipulating the court system to protect for you. You may not want to say under god, but now because of your actions, the vast majority of people that want to say under god can not either.


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Memphis Democrat
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