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under God

Saturday,  06/12/04  03:27 PM

Did you know it is easy to send email to the President, Senators, and Congressman who represent you?  It is!  Simply go to this website, select your state, and then enter your mailing address.  You can send email letters to any or all of your elected leaders.

I discovered this recently in attempting to write my Senators (Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer), and Congressman (Elton Gallegly) regarding the U.S. Supreme Court's upcoming ruling on inclusion of the phrase "under God" in our Pledge of Allegiance.  Now that I know about this website, they're going to be receiving a lot of mail from me.  Of course I have no idea if they will actually read it - I assume they gave staffers which filter their mail - but perhaps my voice will not go completely unheeded.

By the way, here is what I wrote:

Dear [Appropriate Salutation Will Be Inserted Here]:

I am contacting my members of Congress regarding an issue of concern to me.

I am concerned about the tone of debate surrounding the "'Under God' in Pledge of Allegiance" issue.

I am personally opposed to ANY religious references in National traditions.  I am not an atheist, but I think there is strong value to the separation of church and state envisioned by our Country's founders, and codified in our Constitution.

More important than my view on the issue itself, I am really concerned by the knee-jerk reaction of many politicians to this issue.  Rather than engaging in legitimate debate, people have rushed to deride the Ninth Circuit Court's decision, and the citizen who raised this issue, Dr. Newdow. (I often disagree strongly with the Ninth, but not this time.)

Although the founders of our Country clearly intended a strong division between church and state, over time the predominantly Christian background of America's leaders has allowed a default religious ethic to creep into America's traditions.  Phrases like "in God we trust" on our currency and "under God" in our pledge of allegiance don't raise eyebrows, because most Americans are Christians and believe such phrases to be appropriate.  Even Americans with other religious traditions such as Jews and Muslims believe in a God, so they can feel these traditions are consistent with their own views.

My point is not that there could be zero Gods or more than one God, nor that there are Americans who are excluded by references to a God.  (Although these are true statements.)  My point is that such issues are religious, and as such should have no place whatsoever in the traditions of our secular government.

I urge you first and foremost to give these issues serious and scholarly consideration, rather than reacting based on emotion.  I urge you furthermore to make decisions on these issues based on what is right, based on our Constitution and the fundamental separation of church and state we cherish as Americans.  Your constituents will most likely disagree with this position, since they are predominantly Christians who would view removal of references to God from our Country's traditions as negative.  I suggest that this is an area where our country's leaders must lead, by establishing a neutral moral tone and deciding issues based on logic, rather than blindly following the popular opinion.

Thank you most sincerely for your attention,

Ole Eichhorn