What's wrong with 'under God'?

Posted: Thursday, June 19, 2003

If Attorney General Gregg Renkes (Empire, June 12) thinks the Ninth Circuit Court's decision was about the whole of the Pledge of Allegiance, as implied by your article, he is wrong.

The decision was limited only to the words "under God."

These words were placed in the Pledge by an act of Congress in 1954, in a Cold War reaction to what was seen as the threat of "atheistic" communism of the Soviet Union. The campaign initiated by the Roman Catholic Knights of Columbus culminated in President Dwight Eisenhower's saying when he signed it into law:

"From this day forward, the millions of our schoolchildren will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural schoolhouse, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty."

His words reflected the intent of Congress: To establish a religious exercise in the public schools of our nation.

The First Amendment to the Constitution states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion ..." But Congress did make this law that put religious words into the mouths of our children, whether we wanted them there or not.

What is wrong with "under God" in the Pledge? About 10 percent of Americans do not "believe in God;" another 10 percent do not believe that "God" is in a position "over" any nation; and it gives the false impression there is unanimous agreement with this opinion about how our nation and a deity are related.

Kenneth H. Bonnell

Los Angeles

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