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Let the private sector handle 'pledge' battle

July 01, 2002|by BOB MAGINNIS

This week's ruling by the 9th U.S, Circuit Court Appeals that the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance violate the U.S. Constitution could not have come at a worse time. The effort and resources that some government officials seem ready to spend to overturn this decision are desperately needed for other purposes. Let private citizens handle the appeal.

The court's ruling came as the result of a suit filed by Michael Newdow, a California atheist who objected because he said his daughter was forced to listen to her second-grade classmates recite the pledge.

The court ruled 2-1 that the practice violates the clause of the Constitution that says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

Even though the ruling has been stayed pending appeals, Attorney General John Ashcroft says the U.S. will seek a rehearing and others in government have weighed in with challenges of their own, rhetorical and otherwise.

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At a time when terrorists have targeted the United States, is fighting such a ruling the best use of government officials' time, especially since there will be no shortage of challenges from private citizens?

This nation is engaged in a fight against terrorism, a struggle to forge some sort of peace in the Middle East and an effort to keep India and Pakistan from a nuclear exchange that would likely poison the world's air.

America's intelligence agencies need to be reorganized, as do the regulatory agencies that make sure the profits corporations report really exist. And we haven't even mentioned the need to secure health care for the poor, Medicare for the aged and Social Security for everyone.

Our concern with the pledge issue is that those in government who should be attending to other business will spend their time posturing on this issue.

The truth is that no deity worth praying to can be hurt by any court ruling, and any child whose faith is lost because two words are removed from the pledge didn't have much religious education to start with.

The private sector is filled with intelligent people who can fight this battle. It would be a patriotic service if they did, and let government officials attend to other important matters.

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