July 2, 2002
The Daily Gazette
P.O. Box 1090
Schenectady, NY 12301
I am writing to correct misstatements made in panicky reactions to the Pledge decision. For the thousandth time, atheism is not a religion. It is just the opposite. It is a complete lack of religion. It is the absence of belief in god(s). That’s it. It has no creed, dogma, faith, holy book, temple, belief system, or secret hand shake. Anyone who does not claim that a god exists is an atheist by default. If atheism is a religion then baldness is a hair color.
No one is trying to replace the words “under god” in the Pledge with “under atheism.” There is no atheist conspiracy to outlaw religion. Those of us who wish to restore the Pledge to its original, secular form believe that all people should have the right to worship or not worship whatever god, goddess, golden calf, or other imaginary friend they may happen to have an irrational belief in. Everyone is free to follow or not follow any religion that may appeal to the individual. Just stop trying to turn our government and our public schools into churches, and we’ll all get along fine.
It is religionists, not atheists, who are trying to make everyone adhere to the same belief system. Changing the Pledge to include the words “under god” was just one of many unconstitutional actions along these lines. These are the actions of people who not only disrespect the beliefs and non-beliefs of others, but who obviously are insecure in their own beliefs.
Put yourself in our place. Imagine that the majority of the country believed in fairies, or some such thing, and you didn’t. How would you feel if the government added the words “under fairies” to your nation’s Pledge? Our Founding Fathers knew that religion should be a personal matter, not a matter of public policy. That is why the first words in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States read, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
When the government forces everyone to submit to religion, we become the Taliban we so despise. Stand up for freedom. Support the Bill of Rights. Restore the Pledge to its original, secular form.