I put LTE in the title, but this actually is a Community Viewpoint offered by a local High School student.  Her letter is at the bottom of the fold.  Help yourself to reading if first and any comments to help make this a better response letter will be kindly accepted.

As a believer in God, I deem it necessary to respond to this community viewpoint and Ms. McAdoo’s statements concerning the use of God as a national motto and the insertion of “under God” into the Pledge of Allegiance.

The author asks why did not anyone complain when these two clearly religious phrases were inserted into our secular governmental lives.  Senator Joseph McCarthy comes to mind as the first and foremost reason that many failed to ask the question of why insert a religious framework as the motto of our nation.  There was also the great communist scare of the fifties along with McCarthy’s great witch-hunts for communists that stifled so much free speech in that era.

Then she asks why have American’s become so selfish in denying God?  I don’t believe we as a nation have, though there are many who profess God who are in fact turning God into a business venture for personal gain.  They manipulate, lie and twist the Bible to enrich and empower themselves to the detriment of the very people they profess to want to help find salvation.  

I know many wonderful people for whom God is the center of their lives and in no way resemble these self important and egregiously vile individuals.  As for acknowledging God, why must we do so in a way that denigrates the rights of others who do not have the same beliefs as those of us who do believe in God?

A little history concerning the Pledge would be in order to address the writers concerns about “some people in this country trying to remove the phrase “under God” from the Pledge”.  Does the author know that the man who originally wrote the pledge was a Baptist Minister?  Here is some information about him.  

Reverend Francis Bellamy (1855 – 1931) When Bellamy wrote the Pledge in August 1892, he never considered placing the word, “under God,” in his original version of the Pledge of Allegiance. In 1954 David Bellamy, his son, sent a message to Congress in 1954 politely stating that his father would not like this addition by Congress. His granddaughter and great-granddaughter have made similar statements.

Bellamy wrote the draft of the Columbus Day Proclamation for President Benjamin Harrison in July 1892. He used the words, “Divine Providence” and “Divine care” in this statement: “Let the National Flag float over every school house in the country, and the exercises be such as shall impress upon our youth the patriotic duties of American citizenship. In the churches and in the other places of assembly of the people, let there be expressions of gratitude to Divine Providence for the devout faith of the Discoverer, and the Divine care and guidance which has directed our history and so abundantly blessed our people.”

Why did Bellamy not include the word, “God,” in his new flag salute when he had used this concept in writing the presidential proclamation?  Bellamy was a northern Baptist and a Freemason; both groups promoted the separation of church and state and opposed tax supported parochial schools.  The northern Baptists believe in freedom of religion, freedom for religion and freedom from religions. They believe that the separation of church and state is healthy both for the church and the state. They believe in the priesthood of all believers and the freedom of every person to relate directly to God without the imposition of any creed by the government.

The myth this author perpetuates concerning who is opposed to the pledge continues to be a divisive crucible to skewer the rights of those who do not agree with the theocrats who want to impose religion upon all Americans.  I find it reprehensible that many so called Christian organizations have stated publicly, that no one who is not a Christian should be able to hold public office.  This abhorrent violation of the first amendment clearly gives me reason to believe that those who chose a secular life have much to be concerned with, when God is pushed into the government of the US.  

She then goes on to endorse free will as a beautiful thing, and it is the greatest gift bestowed upon man by a loving God.  So why should secular individuals be forced to choose between pledging allegiance to our nation and including within that pledge that they accept something which they do not believe.  Mr. Bellamy understood this and took great pains to insure that all members of our country would have the pledge as a means to acknowledge the greatness of our nation.

The author goes on to declare that a majority of Americans feel the phase should remain.  The greatness of the founding fathers in creating our Constitution for me is that the Majority must insure that the minority is protected.  That clearly is demonstrated by the inclusion of the First Ten Amendments to the Constitution, our beloved Bill of Rights.  Here is a brief history concerning the Father of our Constitution Mr. James Madison.

James Madison (1751 – 1836), the “Father of the US Constitution” and the first ten amendments, was on the style committee that wrote the final draft of the Constitution There was no mention of “God” in the wording of the Constitution. The Constitutional Convention of 1787, where Madison was the intellectual leader, did not have formal prayers or religious sermons at its sessions. Yet. Madison was well trained in Christian theology. As a young man, he had trained for the Presbyterian ministry.  Why did Madison oppose any reference to the official use of “God” in the Constitution and its Bill of Rights?

Madison believed strongly in the principle of separation of church and state. Madison had a long history of fighting for separation of church and state. He opposed the laws in colonial Virginia, which authorized governmental officials to arrest Baptist ministers for the “crime of heresy.”

This author states that the First amendment “has been majorly distorted”:  I disagree, I believe it has fulfilled it design by the author.  In so much of Madison’s writings, he is critical of the religious zealotry of the time.  He feared that our leaders would become swayed to begin to believe in their divine right to rule, such as the Imperialist King George of England.  He fervently fought for and ultimately won the inclusion of our Bill of Rights insuring that American’s would not have to endure Theocratic despotism.  If the author would do her homework, she would clearly see in the writings of Madison, Washington, Jefferson and Adams, these founding fathers did not see America as a religious nation, but a nation blessed by God, a Deity who bestowed greatness upon our Nation.

I find it rather humorous that this author uses the Northwest Ordinance to instill the notion that our founders wanted religion to permeate our governance.  Article III, then in my estimation is a farce and cruel joke upon the Native peoples of the United States.  The Northwest Ordinance was used to displace and steal the Native’s lands with impunity.  So where was religion, at the forefront, insuring that it was going to gain its piece of the great American pie.  Where was the morality, lost amongst the flames of burning Native villages, the introduction of white man’s diseases in the native cultures, the wholesale stealing of Native lands for the enrichment of a landed class.  The wholesale destruction of an entire race and culture due to the lack of religion and morality, called Manifest Destiny.

Our author goes on to say that because 99 US Senators voted in support of the Pledge it must be allowed to remain as is, not returning to its original as written by its author.  She further states that  
“The pledge is a statement of national principle promoting the post-Civil War ideas of the strength of the American union and its people. The majority of those people were – and still are – generally monotheistic, or worshipping of one god. The pledge appeals to more than one religion, not just Christianity, because Jews worship God for example, and many other world religions hail to one god, which may simply just have another name.”

What of the Buddhists, Taoists, Native Americans, Wiccans, or those who do not believe in a Deity?  What about their rights to not have a generally monotheistic God shoved down their throats.   My relationship with my God is a personal one, one in which I hold dearly too, for this relationship saved my life, returning me from a place so horrendous that only God could bring me back from that Abyss.

I would no more think of forcing my beliefs on another than I would think of forcing another human being to accept my culture because they are different from myself.  This author continues to spout off use your freedom, don’t recite the words, yet fails to acknowledge that many belittle, ridicule and some outright threaten others who fail to recite this pledge.  She continues to state we should look more toward the tradition side of the issue.  Well slavery was a tradition, women not having the right to vote was a tradition, equal but separate was a tradition, should we not have addressed these issues about basic freedoms because they traditionally were allowed in our country.  I don’t mean to equate the magnitude of this issue with the same magnitude the aforementioned traditions carries, but in and of itself, forcing others to accept God in any way shape or form, clearly violates the 1st and 9th amendments to our Constitution.

Here is where I have great issue and see the author as promoting jingoism/nationalism, which to me fosters the inclination to begin the march toward fascism.  This statement clearly says to me that the author has little respect for dissent and therefore those of us who foster dissent must not be True Americans.
“If someone has a problem with the current Pledge of Allegiance, as far as I’m concerned, they can either sit down and respect others rights, or they could leave the country – go experience some other governments and maybe realize some freedoms they may have taken for granted, here in America.”

I love my country and yes Ms. McAdoo, I have lived in other countries and I have never taken my rights as an American for granted.  I will always protest against any government that wishes to install a National Religion, that wants to take away my rights as guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States of America.  I will support any and all that are willing to stand up and tell our governments, local, state and national that what you are doing is not okay.  Not all traditions and values are accepted the same Ms. McAdoo, simply because you hold the majority gives you no right to force your traditions and values upon me and others who do not hold the same traditions and values as your self.  If you indeed feel that you do have the right to force those upon others, I highly recommend that you reread the Constitution and the many writings of our founding fathers, whose one great goal was to insure the rights of the minority in our nation.  

I believe if our nation wants to continue using the Pledge of Allegiance, then it should by all means return it to the original form as written by its author.  Then I will have no problem with it being recited by my children, until such time as this occurs, I will offer my children this pledge as a means of honestly showing a love of our nation.

I pledge allegiance to my nation, the republic that has given me great freedom, a nation that strives to achieve liberty and justice for all.

We live in a time of flux and it is these times that clearly demonstrate the strength, integrity and fortitude of our founding fathers when they wrote our Constitution.  It is a living breathing document that will see us through these times and my hope is that those who would try and force a theocracy upon our nation will clearly and succinctly be defeated in their desire to strip away our freedom of choice, our free will and our rights to live our lives in the manner with which we choose to live our lives as long as we harm no one.  My God, who saved my life, shows me a way of living that strives to help others, give back to those that are less fortunate than myself and love others as I love myself.  I do not want anyone to come between me and my God, because they believe they have the only way to reach salvation.  If taking the words “under God” is going to inhibit a theocrat, then by all means I say take it out.  Personally I liked the original version so much better, it really was all-inclusive, the original intent of its author.

Ottawa Herald Sept, 15, 2005

McADOO:’Under God’ should remain in the Pledge of Allegiance

By Sarah McAdoo, Community Viewpoint

Did you know that “In God we trust” is our nation’s motto? I sure didn’t. I didn’t even know we had a national motto. Congress adopted this phrase in 1955. Why is it that back then, no one complained about that motto, or the reference to God (with a capital G) in our Pledge of Allegiance? Have Americans really gotten that selfish, that they don’t even think they need God, or even acknowledge Him?

Did you know that some people in this country are trying to remove the phrase “under God” from our national pledge? They argue that it conflicts with the First Amendment which states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof Š etc.” People opposing the pledge tend to be atheists or agnostics, and say that the phrase is an unnecessary reference to God and endorses a Biblical nation.

What opposition tends to overlook though, is the fact that no one is forced to recite the pledge. Free will is a beautiful thing. They should acknowledge it.
In a recent Newsweek survey, 9 out of 10 Americans feel that the phrase “under God” should remain, and most even believe that it is acceptable for the government to promote religious expression, as long as it is not one specific religion.

In 1954, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved adding the words to the pledge, he stated: “In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war.”

Well, I honestly don’t think Mr. Eisenhower would be to pleased if he could see or hear our fellow Americans today. We have turned into a selfish, greedy nation that is way too caught up in “political correctness” and ignores tradition. Oh yes, I totally agree that times have changed since the 1950s, but God still remains, and the general faith the American people have, though weakening, is still strong.
Our founding fathers stressed the need for religion as the basis of morality.

The First Amendment has been majorly distorted. They built the American nation on the assumption that religion would be the foundation for the success of their democratic experiment.

Article III of the Northwest Ordinance states that “Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary in good government, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”

Though it is a thin line to try to draw between the separation of church and state, one must draw that line somewhere. Senators have done that, when they voted 99-0 in support of the Pledge of Allegiance and its reference to “one nation under God” recently.
The pledge is a statement of national principle promoting the post-Civil War ideas of the strength of the American union and its people. The majority of those people were – and still are – generally monotheistic, or worshipping of one god. The pledge appeals to more than one religion, not just Christianity, because Jews worship God for example, and many other world religions hail to one god, which may simply just have another name.

For opponents who argue that the reference to God in our pledge is inappropriate, they should look around, and they will find for one; that there are many, many more inappropriate things out in the world to deal with; and two, that ‘inappropriate’ is only in the eye of the beholder. They should look more toward the tradition side of the issue, and the opposition should recognize and utilize the freedom they have to simply not recite the pledge if they feel it not necessary.

I feel though, that if one does recite the pledge, they should recite it wholly, not deleting words or phrases they deem inappropriate.  That’s just not how things work. Either do it fully, or not at all.
If someone has a problem with the current Pledge of Allegiance, as far as I’m concerned, they can either sit down and respect others rights, or they could leave the country – go experience some other governments and maybe realize some freedoms they may have taken for granted, here in America.

As the journalist James Piereson wrote, “Can the Supreme Court now strike down “under God” without at the same time striking at the very foundations of our national existence?”

Next time you see a court case news story or an online petition – for example, concerning removing of the controversial phrase – think twice about how you react. It is an issue endangering our traditions and values as a country.  

I can honestly and sincerely say that I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.

Sarah McAdoo is a junior at Ottawa High School.

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