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    Suffolk County Legislature Votes On God

    ‘ Since Congress added ‘underGod’ to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954, there has been a continualbattle about whether those words violate the First Amendment of the U.S.Constitution, which states in part: ‘Congress shall make no law respectingan establishment of religion…’

    ‘ On Feb. 5, the Suffolk Countylegislature entered the battle when it passed and approved a resolutionsponsored by legislator Allan Binder (R-Huntington) requesting that the federalcourt reject a judicial ban on the Pledge of Allegiance.’

    ‘ The reason given for thisresolution was: ‘The First Amendment was not designed to drive religiousexpression out of public thought but to avoid discrimination either for oragainst particular religions…’

    ‘ Currently, however, there is nojudicial ban on the Pledge.’ Last June, 2002, the U.S. Court of Appealsfor the Ninth Circuit ruled that the Pledge could not be recited in schoolsbecause the words ‘under God’ violated the First Amendment’sprohibition against a state endorsement of religion.’

    ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Thecourt was acting on a lawsuit brought by a California atheist, Michael Newdow,who didn’t want his daughter to be forced to listen to the Pledge in hersecond-grade school.’ A day after its ruling, the court stayed itsdecision, to reconsider at a later date.

    ‘ Soon after that decision,politicians across the country held demonstrations against the court’s initialruling, including Suffolk legislators Lynn Nowick (R-Smithtown), David Bishop(D-Lindenhurst), Binder and Andrew Crecca (R-Hauppauge), who led a rallyoutside the H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge.’ Nowick introduced aresolution calling for the State to continue to require the Pledge in public schools.’ That resolution was tabled.

    ‘ Dave Ryan, Nowick’s legislativeaide, said he believes that ‘under God’ belongs in the pledge.’ ‘Many of this country’s traditions are based on a Judeo-Christianethic.’

    ‘ Arlene Parks, Binder’sassistant, agreed.’ ‘The first English settlers came here forreligious freedom,’ she said.’ ‘Our Founding Fathers put ‘underGod’ in the Pledge.’ They didn’t have a problem with it.’

    Nicholas Viola, a representative with Long IslandChurch of God Fellowship, a Christian activist group, also supports thephrase.’ ‘American is a Christian nation,’ he said.’ ‘There is no problem inserting God in the Pledge because God is itself ageneric term used in most religions.’

    ‘ Erik Shwartz, a 20-year-oldcomputer engineering student at Stony Brook said he supports Suffolk’sactions.’ ‘It’s a good thing because it shows unity,’ hesaid.’ ‘It’s saying that we’re all one people under God.’

    ‘ However, Barry Siebman, executivedirector for the Center For Inquiry, an organization that promotes scientificexplanation ofo church teachings, said the U.S. Constitution is clear inseparating church from state.’

    ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘TheFirst Amendment…’ means the government must remain neutral in issuesabout religion in the U.S.A.,’ he said.

    ‘ Ann Klaeysen, the head of theEthical Humanist Society of Long Island, a progressive social and politicalactivist organization, said that putting God into the Pledge createsproblems.’

    ‘Acceptance…’ of a majority’s belief systemshould not be a requirement for affirming love on country,’ she said.’Inserting God into the Pledge inhibits some Americans from expressingtheir patriotism, and therefore, divides Americans instead of unitingthem.’

    ‘ No action by the county executivewas necessary for this particular resolution to pass, and it was sent to thefederal court, as well as the Supreme Court, Senate, House and President onFeb. 11.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘

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