God will survive challenge to role in our pledge It was...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 12, 2002

God will survive challenge to role in our pledge

It was not God who was declared unconstitutional; it was the phrase "under God" ("No independence from God," Opinion

Commentary, July 4). There is a difference. And there is a difference of opinion among us Episcopalians about the presence of that phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance.

I am 75 years old and for the first 27 years of my life I happily said the pledge. But since 1954, when Congress added the phrase "under God", I have been offended each time I've said it.

Some believe you can leave out the phrase if you don't like it. But when I was teaching in Baltimore's public schools I felt compelled to say it.

And it's not that I object to talking about God. I talk, think, hear or read about God every day of my life. I take part in the Holy Eucharist two or three times a week. I have a master's degree in theology and have studied divinity at Cambridge University.

And while I agree that there is no freedom from God, I do not worry about God's ability to survive the challenge to the phrase "under God" -- a phrase added to the pledge not by God but by Congress.

Lucille Coleman

Baltimore

God isn't what atheists fear

Yonason Goldson says we should leave "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance because it encourages humility ("Under God, with humility," Opinion

Commentary, July 5). Apparently it hasn't worked in his case, as he displays the astonishing arrogance to pronounce upon what every atheist's greatest dread is.

However, this atheist's greatest dread is not, as Rabbi Goldson imagines, that I might have to account for my actions to a creator-god.

It is that people such as Rabbi Goldson will gain control of my government and turn the country I'm grateful to have been born in into a state in which those in power can control my life according to the rules of their God.

Judith Seid

Towson

Bin Laden analogy demeaned believers

Ann Rappoport states, "Theocracies have always abounded under their gods. Osama bin Laden fights his international holy war under God." The rest of her column rails against a U.S. society where God hasn't prevented wars, scandals and bigotry ("To the secularity for which it stands," Opinion

Commentary, July 5).

She misses the point. The God Christians and Jews believe in, and that followers of most other religions embrace, does not expect perfection. It does expect continual striving on the part of the faithful to live, as best they can, by the moral and theological tenets of their religion and to ask for forgiveness when we fall short of these ideals.

To equate the U.S. experiment (and the "under God" portion of the pledge), with its generic acknowledgment of God's hand in our success, with a maniacal murderer such as bin Laden is demeaning to rational religious believers and the worst form of extremist, anti-religious demagoguery.

Thomas M. Neale

Baltimore

Such a struggle over two small words

Two words: "under God." How strong is your faith and devotion if two words can alter them? What sort of commitment is that?

If you need the words, say them, but don't force those whose beliefs may be different to have to say them.

It's two words. Talk about much ado about nothing.

Jeff Sattler

Baltimore

Larsen was right to block rate hike

Hats off to Insurance Commissioner Steven B. Larsen for blocking a rate increase for CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield ("State blocks rise in rates for CareFirst," July 1). A nonprofit health care insurer that spends less than 75 percent of each premium dollar on patient care does not need more money.

Like all of us in today's tight economy, CareFirst needs to operate more efficiently and cut its costs.

Perhaps this could be accomplished by trimming some of its outrageous executive salaries instead of asking the little guy to foot the bill.

Elizabeth H. Lehmann

Phoenix

Financial criminals should do hard time

We rightly demand that anyone who steals the property of others should be punished.

But if a second-story man heisting televisions and jewelry out of people's homes deserves a couple of years in the pokey, what does someone responsible for a $3.9 billion boondoggle and the destruction of confidence in the stock market deserve ("WorldCom continues probe into accounting problems," July 7)?

I hope those responsible get more than a fine and some soft time at a country club prison.

Kevin Corbett

Glen Arm

Renovated buildings help revive the city

I applaud the tremendous efforts of Ted Rouse and David Hillman on their apartment buildings opening this year ("About as downtown as you can get," July 5).

These projects mean so much to the business community of Mount Vernon and downtown Baltimore. And never before have I been so excited about the development in the community surrounding my business.

The heart and soul of any business comes from those who live and work around it. Now, with these two historic buildings coming back to life, the retail community around them can only further thrive.

Steve Appel

Baltimore

The writer is co-owner of Nouveau Contemporary Goods.

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