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Religion belongs in minds and hearts, not government

As published in the Bellingham Herald on August 17th, 2002

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance violates the separation of church and state.  Many people have argued that the founding fathers never intended to remove religion from government.
The founding fathers were all Godfearing men, many of whom fled the religious persecution that was predominant in Europe at that time.  They wrote a constitution that does not mention religion until Article Six which state "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office."
Article I of the Constitutional amendments states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
The original pledge was written by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister, who never even considered including God in his pledge.
The founding fathers understood the dangers that a government-sponsored religion would present to the people's right to religious freedom.  As religious men they also understood that the government could not lead the people in a morally correct manner without divine guidance.
They accomplished this by banning a religious test for office, denying Congress the right to establish a state-sponsored religion and by allowing the free exercise of religion.
By this means our founding fathers were able to keep religion where it belongs, in the hearts and minds of our political leaders while keeping government out of religion and religion out of government.
Sheila L. Richardson

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