Letter and op-ed by MarkxThomas


Letter to Representative Anna Eshoo

I had sent her my article on the Pledge of Allegiance (at the bottom).  See Representative Eshoo’s letter below.



July 30, 2002


Honorable Representative Anna Eshoo,


Re: saying "under God" in our Pledge of Allegiance

You say that a reference to God is not religious, but merely a traditional reference to a higher power,
and does not suppress someone's religious or non-religious beliefs.

First, any reference to God, gods, Yahweh, Zeus, or Brahma IS religious in nature, and thus respects
an establishment of religion.

Second, continuing an action or way of thinking simply because it is traditional is insufficient reason.
If Americans had followed this form of logic, we would have had no revolution, no emancipation of the
slaves, and no suffrage for women.  Until 1954, it was also traditional to not have "under God" in our
Pledge of Allegiance.

Third, any reference to a higher power is a reference to God or gods (ignoring the trivial concepts of
higher power meaning nature or something within the individual).

Fourth, referring to God DOES suppress someone's religious or non-religious beliefs -- if those beliefs
are not monotheistic.

What part of the First Amendment is confusing? "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment
of religion..."

Most God-believing people should be loudly protesting the trivialization of God that you and many other
government officials are espousing.   They probably won't, because it serves their interest of inserting more
religion into our government.

Our nation was founded as the first country that derived its power from a purely secular, nonreligious basis. 
It is true patriotism to fight to keep it that way.

As shown by this national uproar and debate, religion is divisive.  The Pledge of Allegiance is supposed to
help unite Americans.  Having "God" in it divides us. Let's return the Pledge to its previous form, so we can
ALL once again say "one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

I have collected a list of excellent web articles on this.  I urge you to educate yourself on this important issue.

  http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/MikeHonda.htm
  "On the Pledge of Allegiance"

  by CA Representative Mike Honda

  http://www.au.org/press/pr072202.htm
  "One Nation Under God?"
  Q & A by Americans United for Separation of Church and State

  http://www.au.org/press/pr062602.htm
  "Decision Respects Freedom Of Conscience"
  by Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church
  and State

  http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/AA_pledge.htm
  "Victory for Separation, Individual Rights"
  by American Atheists

  http://www.americanhumanist.org/pledge.html
  "Pledge Talking Points"
  by American Humanists Association

 http://secular.ws/pledge
  Pledge Restoration Project
  A Campaign To Restore Freedom Of Conscience For All Americans

  http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/Pledge.htm
  "'Under God' is Unconstitutional and Divisive"
  by MarkxThomas of Atheists of Silicon Valley

  http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/UnderGod.htm
  "'Under God' is Un-American"
  by Jim Heldberg of San Francisco Atheists

  http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/BACOR_pledge.htm
  "Support for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals"
  by the Bay Area Communities of Reason


Sincerely,
Mark W.xThomas
472 Lotus Lane
Mountain View,  CA  94043




July 29, 2002

Mark W.xThomas
472 Lotus Lane
Mountain View, California  94043

Dear Mark,

Thank you for contacting me to express your support of the Ninth Circuit
Court of Appeals' ruling on the Pledge of Allegiance.

In a two to one decision in Newdow vs. U.S. Congress, the Ninth Circuit
Court of Appeals held that the words "under God" in the Pledge of
Allegiance and a California's school district policy which requires
teachers to lead willing school children to recite the Pledge of
Allegiance every day, violates the Establishment Clause of the First
Amendment.

The House of Representatives passed House Resolution 459 which expresses
the sense of the House that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals erroneously
decided Newdow vs. U.S. Congress. The Resolution also states that the
phrase, "one nation, under God," should remain in the Pledge of Allegiance
and that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals should agree to rehear the
ruling in order to reverse the decision.  I voted for the Resolution

I believe in the separation of Church and State and that government should
not endorse religion.  However, I think that in this case reciting the
Pledge of Allegiance does not suppress someone's religious or
non-religious beliefs because the Pledge has become a traditional, not
religious, reference to a higher power.

I appreciate hearing from you and ask you to continue to inform me on
issues you care about.  I always need and welcome the benefit of your
thoughts and ideas.

Sincerely,

Anna G. Eshoo
Member of Congress



LTE published in the San Jose Mercury News, August, 2004

Susan Bentley, in her letter of July 30, said that this nation was founded on biblical principles.  This is untrue.

One of the founding principles of America is freedom of religion.  This includes freedom from religion, because everyone has the right to say no to other religions.  Our founding fathers understood the need for this, and carefully kept religion out of our government.  They even put this in the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli, which stated, "The Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion."

We all have the right to think whatever we want, including prayer.  For many Christians, freedom of religion isn't enough.  They seem to want their religion forced on others by the government and in schools.  This is un-American and antithetical to our pluralistic society.



Op-ed piece published in the San Jose Mercury News, June, 2004

Freedom of Religion and the Pledge of Allegiance

The U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to rule on the merits of having the phrase “under God” in our Pledge of Allegiance.  This is disappointing because there are many reasons to keep religion and government separate.

Two hundred and fifteen years ago our Constitution took effect, creating a new kind of government.  The United States of America was founded as the first country that derived its power from a purely secular, nonreligious basis.  Nations before then had kings and queens who used their supposed “God-given divine right” to rule.  Instead of this top-down power structure, our founders wisely created a government that derived its powers from the consent of the governed.  They also realized the inherent dangers of religion, and specifically kept it out of our Constitution and government.  While the deists' “Nature's God” is mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, there is no reference to a god in the Constitution.  In addition, the Treaty of Tripoli, written during the administration of President George Washington, signed by President John Adams and unanimously approved by the Senate in 1797, stated, “The Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.”  Six years later James Madison wrote, “The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries.”

Our Constitution is also designed to protect the rights of the minorities from the tyranny of the majority.  References to God by our government officials imply that the 14% of Americans who don't believe in any god are lesser citizens.  This is similar to when white men once discriminated against blacks, women and other minorities, often using the Bible as an endorsement.  It wasn't right then.  It isn't right now.

Almost two years ago, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled correctly on the inserted reference to God in the Pledge of Allegiance, saying that it conflicts with the First Amendment.  To those who disagree, I ask, “What part of the First Amendment is confusing?”  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...”

Enshrined in the First Amendment is the idea that all Americans have a constitutional right to freedom of religion.  This must include freedom from religion, because we can’t have true freedom unless we have the right to choose “none of the above.”  References to a god in the Pledge of Allegiance, our national motto, our national anthem, or on our money respect an establishment of religion, and thus are unconstitutional.

Freedom of religion is an ideal that is held by most Americans -- from the devoutly religious to the devoutly nonreligious.  However, many religious fundamentalists are battling to insert their religion into our government, to turn the U.S. into a theocracy.  This mixing of government and religion is a threat to the freedoms of us all.  Make no mistake about this.  The United States cannot be based on the belief that all persons are created equal when it implies that a god prefers some.

As shown by the national uproar and debate, religion is still divisive.  The Pledge of Allegiance is supposed to help unite Americans.  Having “God” in it divides us, and attempts to link patriotism to public professions of religious belief.  Let us return the Pledge to its previous, nonreligious and inclusive form -- so we can all once again say “one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”


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