FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 27, 2002
9TH CIRCUIT COURT UPHOLDS FIRST AMENDMENT SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE
The Bay Area Communities of Reason fully support the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals well-reasoned decision regarding the
unconstitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance. The Court has given all thinking people a long-overdue opportunity to consider what our
Founding Fathers intended when, in spite of most of them being Christians of one denomination or another, they deliberately opted to leave God out of the Constitution.
In the U.S. today, Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Jews, Muslims, Hindis, people of all the other 2000 religions and millions of good folks without religion, live together in peace. We live in peace with one another because our forefathers fought the battle for real religious freedom during the War of Independence, during the Constitutional Conventions and during the ratification process. They succeeded. We benefited. 200 years without religious wars -- only in America.
Don't be fooled by the Radical Right's rewriting of our history or by our desperate to be re-elected politicians sudden discovery of an election issue. Things won't get better by changing the constitution. We already have REAL freedom of religion in the USA.
“E pluribus unum”, Out of Many One, was the motto of a country that kept religious rage at bay for 200 years. Before the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were ratified, before the War of Independence, religious dissidents like Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson were banished from their communities. In other colonies Catholics and Baptists could not vote or hold office. That was the supposed foundation of our Christian Nation; that is what the Radical Right wants us to bring ’back’ to America. Don't be suckered into destroying our constitution for them.
It wasn't until the 1950's during the McCarthy era and the 'Red Scare,' that the descendents of those sore losers who wanted to continue theocracy's hold over the country instead of creating a Constitutional Democracy finally found an opportunity to make a crack in the wall between church and state. The wall protects your religion from any particular denomination, or religion imposing its version of religion/God on you.
Don't be fooled by those who tell you that you need to pray in school to have religious freedom, or that you need to say a pledge that includes the words 'under God.' What you need is to protect the right of your pastor or rabbi or priest or imam to be able to preach what your group believes, in your church or synagogue or mosque or temple. That is religious freedom. What you need is for you and your neighbors to be free to believe what you believe, or even not to believe at all, as you choose. That is religious freedom.
Before you rush to support the Pledge of Allegiance or to defend prayer in school ...Remember the auto-da-fe. Remember the Inquisition. Our Founding Fathers remembered, and that's why they didn't make our motto, "In God We Trust." That's why they made the first 16 words of the First Amendment read... "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
This is your opportunity to protect the wonder that is our constitutional democracy. This is your opportunity to protect REAL freedom of religion. This is your opportunity to stand up for freedom of religion for all. The Court's decision on the Pledge according to the Constitution that has so ably protected us from each other for 200 years, was a correct decision. In many Muslim countries, only one kind of Islam rules. In Northern Ireland, the country is divided between Protestants and Catholics. On the Protestant side, Catholics suffer; on the Catholic side Protestants suffer. Don't be part of bringing that horror back to our land. Write the 9th Circuit and remind them that they hold the Constitution of the country in their trust, encourage them to uphold their decision upon review. Write your Congresspersons and remind them that they took an oath to protect the Constitution, not to amend it.
Henda Lea, Executive Director
Bay Area Communities of Reason (BACOR)
BACOR is a Bay Area Civil Rights Movement, Its mission is: To ensure that non-theistic input is represented and considered in the discussion and adoption of public policy and to promote respect for the Constitutional right of all persons to their own convictions whether based on faith, reason, or other sources.