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The Record (Bergen County, NJ), April 27, 2014 | Go to article overview

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American history and the Pledge

Regarding "Atheist family sues school calling Pledge discriminatory" (Page A-4, April 22):

The Treaty of Tripoli. Who knew it was a landmark document?

Written by President John Adams when our nation was in its infancy, people are pointing to this as proof that we were established as a godless nation in the argument about whether the Pledge of Allegiance should include the phrase "under God." The line they excerpt is, "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion ..."

This treaty was an agreement forged between a nation of laws and a Muslim theocracy. Although Christianity was by and large the religion practiced by Americans, we were not a Christian nation, certainly not in a theocratic sense. Nothing could be further from the truth.

With centuries of strife between Christians and Muslims, Adams showed the people of Tripoli that religion was not a prerequisite for diplomatic relations with the United States. However, while we are not a Christian nation, we most certainly established our nation with the rights endowed upon us by "the Creator" - most decidedly a reference to God in the Declaration of Independence - and Christianity certainly influenced our system of laws.

The Treaty of Tripoli in 1797 is one of the first instances of our nation demonstrating the religious tolerance that was its central founding principle. Some 220 years later, the actions taken by the American Humanist Association to remove "under God" from the Pledge is anything but tolerant.

Mickey O'Brien

Westfield, April 24

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Regarding "Atheist family sues schools, calling Pledge discriminatory" (Page A-4, April 22):

Regardless of how one feels on this issue, I think the real focus should be why there is even a Pledge of Allegiance at all being recited in public schools. I wonder if all the conservative right- wingers, who will be the first to denounce the atheist family, are aware that the Pledge they so revere was written by a socialist progressive.

According to Thomas DiLorenzo, a libertarian author and revisionist historian of Abraham Lincoln ("The Real Lincoln" 2002) the author was an early 20th century advocate of centralized government power, Francis Bellamy.

I've seen old photos of schoolchildren taken in the early 1900s showing them, not with their hands over their hearts as is now the practice, but with their arms outstretched saluting the flag. Obviously, after the rise of Fascism in Italy and National Socialism in Germany during the 1920s and 1930s, the salute used today was adopted.

Instead of getting worked up over side issues like having "under God" in the Pledge, that effort would be better spent putting America back on the road to individual liberty and personal choice.

Mark Richards

West Milford, April 22

NYC World's Fair a mere diversion

Regarding "Back to the future" (Page BL-1, April 20):

The retrospective on the 1964-65 New York World's Fair takes us back to a now unimaginable era of optimism in America. With its space-age architecture and attractions, the fair heralded a future of progress and prosperity that has yet to materialize.

The things it ignored -- institutionalized racism, simmering urban tensions, the slow buildup in Vietnam, the rise of the politics of division -- were the very things that would come to dominate the second half of the decade. Still, it was a nice diversion for a people traumatized by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963.

It was nice, too, that the United States was willing to break the rules by hosting an unsanctioned exposition. Nowadays, the United States is noticeably absent at most world's fairs, and when it does bother to make an appearance, it's in the form of an exhibit funded by corporate sponsors, for, unlike most other nations, our government does not permit the use public of funds to participate in these gatherings of the international community. …

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