'Under God': A Decision That Jolted America

June 28, 2002

(Text that appears in brackets [ ] was part of my original letter but edited out by the NYT with my permission due to space limitations.)

To the Editor:

In your criticism of the federal appeals court ruling that the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance violate the First Amendment, you say, "A generic two-word reference to God tucked inside a rote civic exercise is not a prayer" (editorial, June 27). By your own words, you have demonstrated how God and religion have become trivialized in American society[, in which nativity creches and Hanukah menorahs displayed on public property are considered non-religious by the US Supreme Court and in which the majority of mainline Christians and non-Orthodox Jews do not regularly attend church or synagogue].

Regular, sincere prayer at a house of worship or in private and the performance of God's commandments - not generic, rote civic exercises, slogans on money or imposing religion on atheists - are what truly serve God.

(Rabbi) JAY S. LAPIDUS West Hartford, Conn., June 27, 2002

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