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McDermott Says the Pledge
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From the Church of Critical Thinking comes this story:

Rep. Jim McDermott, Washington Democrat, yesterday did not say the words "under God" as he led the House in its daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Good for him. And COCT then makes a great point:

Now, when the "under God" case was argued before the Supreme Court last month (a decision is still pending), the Supremes suggested during arguments that Michael Newdow's daughter was allowed to simply not say "under God" while reciting the pledge in school. Newdow countered that she is clearly coerced to do so by her circumstance. She is, after all, a small child in a room full of children saying "under God," and her teacher is saying "under God," and can she really be expected to understand that she has the option of not saying it?

But what about a grown man? He has a better understanding of his circumstance, right? Surely, if he doesn't want to say "under God" he doesn't have to, does he? And certainly not in the United States House of Representatives!

That's what I thought, too.

According to the article, "Rep. Pete Sessions, Texas Republican, accused Mr. McDermott of 'embarrassing the House' and proving that 'he and those like him stand more for the liberal left than they do for our friends and neighbors... The question is why he put himself in the position of embarrassing the House in this way.'" Ouch.

Now then...Pete Sessions just so happens to represent the 32nd District of Texas. The district I live in.

So I dropped him a little note:


I read with dismay a story in the Washington Times which quotes a statement you made regarding Rep. Jim McDermott's recitation of the Pledge in the House, omitting the words "under god".

You are quoted as chiding Rep. McDermott for "embarrassing the House". You are also reported as saying "he and those like him stand more for the liberal left than they do for our friends and neighbors."

Sir, I am one of your constituents (I also voted for you last election), and I just thought you'd like to know that I find your actions and remarks more embarrassing, not only to the House but to our State and Country, than those of Jim McDermott.

I am a U.S. citizen, a Texan, and one of your constituents. I am also a non-believer, as are many of the people our government represents.

At issue in the recent Supreme Court case concerning the Pledge was whether or not a ward of the State would be allowed to lead children in the recitation of an oath affirming the existence of god. One of the primary arguments of the government was that recitation of the Pledge in whole or part was voluntary. The State was insisting that a 7 year-old girl could resist the coercion of both her teacher and fellow classmates.

But now you heap scorn on Jim McDermott, a grown man who chose to recite the Pledge in a manner consistent with his beliefs. I ask you honestly, if this is the kind of reaction Rep. McDermott gets from fellow House members upon refusing to omit part of the Pledge, how can you possibly expect a small child to have to courage to do the same, if this is the reaction they have to look forward to?

On behalf of your constituency, I would rather you had respected Rep. McDermott's right to recite the Pledge with the omission and kept your mouth shut. But by not doing so it is you, sir, not he, who has proved the larger embarassment.

Derek James

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