To the editor:
As one contributor to your Public Forum pointed out some weeks ago, the "under God" part of the Pledge of Allegiance was added 50 or so years ago. My mother remembers throughout her childhood (1920s-1940s) saying the pledge, "One nation, indivisible," with no mention of God.
My answer to the several letters shaming anyone who objects to the holy reference in our national pledge, or worse yet, pitting "our God" against "their (Middle Eastern) God" in some kind of adolescent deity contest, is this: You are missing the point of our nation's mission.
One of the leading motivating factors for the founders of this great country of ours was the religious tyranny experienced under the monarchy of England. Constituting freedom of religion in the United States was a major goal such that our founders also took great care to keep religion out of government.
The separation of church and state is one of the most striking qualities of our government (alongside democratic process) that separates our nation from most Middle Eastern nations. The proponents of religion in U.S. schools and government need to sit back and take a good look at what it has done to the schools and governments in those far away places. Different god, same potential effects on process, quality and freedom.
Religion can be a wonderful thing for the religious, providing comfort and guidance for millions of people. But the millions who don't believe in a god or other divine entity should not be forced to pray while pledging allegiance to their beloved country. The tone of most letters defending the reference to God in our pledge is that those who object are bad, wrong and unpatriotic. Contrary to religious opinion, people who do not believe in God can be as kind, intelligent, selfless, moral and patriotic as the devout, even more so.
Please. Stop judging your fellow citizens by their religious beliefs. Stop imposing your beliefs on them. Let's show the religious extremists and their terrorist army that we can behave better than they can not because our God is better than their God. Because we are Americans (and proud of it).