I believe in our country and the freedom to practice religious beliefs of choice, including those that choose not to believe. I believe in separation of church and state. I agree with the Founding Fathers' wisdom to add the First Amendment, stating “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Congress made such a law in 1954. The Pledge of Allegiance was changed, adding “under God,” in the conservative era of McCarthyism, when the common question was, “Are you or are you not a communist?” Gone unchecked, the next question may have been, “Are you or are you not an atheist?” Far-fetched? Consider the history of the government of Germany in the 1930s, not that long ago. Such intrusion into our political and religious freedom of expression should not go unchecked.
The religious expression “under God” should not be in the pledge to our country. Young children with impressionable minds, with parents of different religious beliefs or no beliefs, should not be forced to recite the line “under God” with pressure from peers. Religious beliefs should be practiced in the family choice. Even the slight reference to God within the pledge should be excluded from government-sponsored school systems.
The conservative Republican right constantly preaches that government be kept out of private lives. The Bush Administration should be consistent with the historical philosophy of its party, the Founding Fathers, and the Constitution. Let the court decision stand.
DAVID R. KIPPLEN
I read with interest that Michael Newdow reports that he and his family (including his young daughter) have received threats as a result of his suit challenging the use of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools and the federal court decision banning it.
I am not surprised by the prospect that cowardly bigots (almost always anonymously) would threaten fellow Americans who exercise constitutional rights not to be discriminated against. That's nothing new in this country. What did surprise is the irony and the sheer hypocrisy of defending one's belief in “God and country” by threatening an innocent child.
Do these zealots really consider themselves to be Christian, religious, or God-fearing? To those, I ask the increasingly rhetorical question: What would Jesus do?
KAREN D. JOHNSON-WEBB
I really don't know what all the Pledge of Allegiance fuss is about. The phrase “under God” was not part of the original pledge. The phrase “under God” was inserted by Congress in 1954, which appears to be attempting to establish, or align itself, with a religion.
What I really get a kick out of though, is the “What's next? Do we take the name God off our money?” argument. Our money is a piece of paper with the word “God” printed on it. Is it considered sacred? What's done with this piece of paper?
1. To some, money is the be all, end all.
2. People have swindled others out of their money and used the name of God to do it.
3. People are willing to work on Saturday and Sunday for more money.
4. Some have inflated the cost of medication and care to the elderly to get more money.
5. People have killed others to get their money.
6. Money is given in exchange for sex.
7. Property has been stolen so it can be exchanged for money to buy drugs.
8. Money has been used to get people to say whatever is needed to be said, right or wrong, in order to achieve a goal.
9. Money is used to buy bigger houses, faster cars, and possibly that “trophy wife” just to outdo the neighbor.
10. Families, lives, and businesses have been swallowed up by bigger businesses in their effort to build an empire, all for the sake of more money.
John Randall's June 29 letter blames all of Islam and Muslims with the actions of its most extreme and misguided few.
What about the over 1 billion peaceful Muslims living in the world today who have neither harmed nor wished harm to anyone? Mr. Randall would label them guilty of the crimes of all people who call themselves Muslims who have ever done anything immoral or violent.
I challenge Mr. Randall with his own rhetoric, for it was not Muslims who bombed subway stations and cafes in Ireland in the name of religion. It was not Muslims who took the offensive and were the invaders in the ill-devised Crusades in the name of Christ. It was not Muslims who perpetrated the Nazi Holocaust because they felt Jews were worth less than Aryan Christians. In fact, it was not Muslims who built our own country on the backs of slaves. Muslims did not lynch and fire-bomb black children in the South. Muslims did not invent nuclear weapons, nor did they drop the atom bomb on Hiroshima.
“Peaceful Islam” is not an oxymoron; it is a redundancy.
Recent months have seen steadily more vicious propaganda against Islam and Muslims. Self-appointed scholars on Islam and experts on the Muslim world have cropped up overnight in the media who interpret the Qur'an their way and distort the life and teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) out of context and incorrectly. Muslim scholars and leaders are being systematically ignored and prevented from rebutting.
The magnitude and vitriolic nature of such attacks has recently taken a different turn, unparalleled in Northwest Ohio before, where many Muslims exist as peaceful, productive, taxpaying, law-abiding U.S. citizens who have consciously vowed to preserve and defend this country.
A recent letter writer from Bowling Green should be reminded of past and contemporary history, where heinous atrocities happened and are ongoing.
Various genocides in Europe, Africa (Rwanda in particular), Ireland, the Far East, World Wars I and II, the Holocaust, and the inquisition of Latin America - and Muslims were not even remotely involved. It is unfair to blame these events on a particular religion.
The examples cited by the letter writer were political, not religious, the motives best known to the perpetrators.
Muslims condemn terrorism from whomever and wherever it comes. There is no shortage of misguided people across religious and ethnic divides. Yet Muslims do not condemn other religions for their misguided followers. Similarly, we expect to be judged according to who we are as people, and not to globally blame our religion.
Anyone who is open minded and interested can visit any of the five mosques in Northwest Ohio and dialogue with our leaders.
S. ZAHEER HASAN
President, Islamic Center of Greater Toledo
There is no place for religious matter in any of our public places, on our money, or in our pledge. There is no “freedom for all” unless the “under God” goes where it belongs (to church). I am absolutely for religious freedom of all sorts, but the government is no place for it if we are to be a truly free nation and people.
Where are the people who are different going to go? This country was settled by people who were different and diverse. That has been our strength. There is plenty of opportunity to celebrate religion without inundating our schools, public places, and government with it. If we are to have freedom for all, then “under God” must go.
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