<CENTER><B>Letters to the Editor</B></CENTER>

Christians should turn the other cheek on this one

Editor:

Whatever happened to "live and let live?"

It was apparently thrown out when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided that it was unconstitutional to include the term "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.

The day after this ruling, a sentiment of patriotism mixed with religiosity permeated the nation. Congressmen and women who normally do not recite the Pledge of Allegiance before the opening of business said the pledge out of some sort of "righteous indignation." Repeat after me ... "election in September."

I agree with the ruling of the court. When the term "under God" is used in an oath that you are supposed to say to show allegiance to your country and you do not believe in the Judeo-Christian heritage, then you automatically feel excluded. Period. There is no rationalization that will change this.

The First Amendment provides that Congress cannot legislate religion. It does not say "a specific sect of an established religious heritage" it says "an establishment of religion." Congress legislated in favor of the Judeo-Christian heritage (an establishment of religion) in 1954 when it changed the Pledge of Allegiance to include the term "under God." The decision made by the court is appropriate no matter how people feel about it.

Many Christians are painting a slippery slope of "what next?" Are they going to tell us that our beliefs are illegal? Will we be able to pray? Are we acknowledging atheism?

Please. The decision protects everyone's rights. The decision does not limit a person's right to express their religious beliefs freely. It just says that "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional. As my grandmother would say, "let's not make mountains out of molehills."

The First Amendment explicitly provides for the free exercise of religion. Many school districts found a good compromise when the Supreme Court told them that "mandatory prayer" in public school is unconstitutional. They allowed for a moment of silence for students to use as they felt, either for their own spiritual purposes or not at all. Even though the Supreme Court ruled that mandating prayer in public school is unconstitutional, a solution was found that did not curtail a person's right to practice their own religious beliefs.

As far as acknowledgement of atheism is concerned, you would have to be living in the most secluded area of this country not to realize that there are atheists in America. Like it or not, they exist. They have the same rights as Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and Wiccans. If they do not want religiosity or spirituality shoved down their throats, then they have the right to challenge that in a court of law. I may not like what you believe in, but I will defend your right to believe in it. The decision of the court certainly acknowledges atheism, but it does not necessarily condone it. Nor does it condone any religious belief, which is the point of the First Amendment.

Politicians, spin-doctors, and the media are making a bigger deal out of this than is warranted. Go back to the original Pledge of Allegiance. There are other problems that our media and government can focus on that are of much higher relevance. Mr. President, where exactly is Osama bin Laden?

Regardless of people's opinions on this matter, the bottom line is this: when you institutionalize a heritage of religion, you are creating a stratification of the haves and have-nots. While a Marxist would say that this is "the American way," I would say that we as Americans are a little more tolerant than that.

So are most Christians. Christians should turn the other cheek on this one and still feel free to practice their religion.

Live and let live.

Michael Joneas

Cottonwood

Pledge ruling another wake-up call for America

Editor:

Dan Engler hit the nail on the head with his commentary on the Pledge of Allegiance June 28.

The decline in morals in our country began in the cultural and sexual revolution of the 1960s. We could have nipped this menace in the bud if the God-loving majority of citizens had stood tall and strong against this serious threat to the survival of the American Civilization.

Now, 40 years later, we are mired in a moral morass including but not limited to: abortion on demand, contraceptives, sexual promiscuity, transmission of 24 (and counting) sexual diseases, homosexuality, same-sex marriages, euthanasia, assisted suicide, human cloning, embryonic stem-cell research; sex, violence, profanity and pornography in the media; political correctness, hate crimes, affirmative action programs, radical feminism, pedophilia, destruction of the family, divorce, rape, murder and other violent crimes, drug abuse; the "if it feels good syndrome"; desecration of the U.S. flag, lying under oath even by a president, road rage, dumbing down America, removal of prayer and religious symbols from the public schools and public squares; students killing students, ugliness in art, music, movies, and on and on.

Since I moved to the Verde Valley from abroad in 1993, I have been rendering support as best I can to many organizations that are fighting for the return of America to the basics which make this Country unique.

Some of these organizations are: American Center for Law and Justice, American Conservative Union, American Family Assn., Center for American Values, Christian Coalition, Christian Defense Fund, Concerned Women for America, Coalition of Politically-active Christians, Empower America, Freedom Alliance, The Heritage Foundation, Legal Affairs Council, Young America's Foundation, American Life League, The National Committee for the Right to Life, Priests for Life, National Pro-Life Alliance, Traditional Values Coalition, Coral Ridge Ministries, Fortress America, Christian Voice, The Liberty Alliance, Christian Seniors Alliance, Campaign for Working Families, Parents TV Council, Religious Freedom Coalition, and other organizations.

I am also a pro-life activist in the Catholic Church in Clarkdale, on the local Knights of Columbus Council.

9-11 was indeed a wake up call. It was impressive and inspiring to witness the surge of religious and patriotic fervor all across our Country. Less than a year later, however, the fervor has waned and we are back to business as usual. The recent decision by the Federal Court in San Francisco about the Pledge of Allegiance is another wake-up call.

As you say, "wake up, folks" — "fight fire with fire."

Time is running out. If Americans do not take a strong stand against the enemy within our borders, especially the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the People for the American Way, the American experiment is doomed.

Thank you for a wonderful, timely and very important editorial. What can I do to wake up America?

F.V. Saporito

Cottonwood

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