Editing the Pledge affirms right to believe

01:00 AM EDT on Thursday, October 13, 2005


It seems that The Journal has forgotten our history ("Pledge of absurdity," editorial, Sept. 6). In its puerile attack on the federal judge who ruled in favor of eliminating the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, the editorial fails to note that the original Pledge, written in 1892, by Francis Bellamy, did not include the words "under God." In fact, these words were not added until 1954.

There is good reason for our government not to mandate an affirmation of any god. Contrary to the editorial's misguided interpretation of our Founding Fathers' intentions, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, et al., understood that the separation of church and state was essential to our democracy. In fact, in the middle of the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin suggested that the delegates begin daily proceedings with a prayer, but his motion did not pass -- in the interest of separating church and state.

It is not that our government bans God; it only protects all citizens' right to believe or not believe in whatever they choose. The authors of our Constitution remembered the atrocities of the Salem witch trials brought on by a non-secular government and religious fervor gone awry.

Our current leaders and editorial boards would do well to remember more current religious/nationalistic mishaps, such as McCarthyism, the Jim Jones movement, the Heaven's Gate cult, and the like.

Excluding the words "under God" is not an attack on religion. It is, rather, a reaffirmation of a protection, or right, that our citizens were granted by our Founding Fathers.


West Greenwich


Online at: http://www.projo.com/opinion/letters/content/projo_20051013_13lemi.17f7300b.html