William Raspberry asks what people opposed to official government invocations of the deity are afraid of ["Understanding Their Fears," op-ed, June 21].

I agree with the recent Supreme Court plaintiff Michael Newdow -- and Mr. Raspberry -- that "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional, but I am not afraid of it. I recognize it as the government's unjust intrusion into an area in which individuals should enjoy inviolate autonomy.

Although some people believe that the separation of church and state promotes secularism, studies show that Americans are some of the most religious people in the world, with the most freedom to choose how to express their beliefs.

Exercising that freedom means that it must be guaranteed to others with different beliefs. If parents want their children to equate religion with patriotism, they are free to teach them so at home or at church.

Religion has thrived in the United States thanks to the separation of church and state, and it will continue to thrive when even small unconstitutionalities are eliminated.

MICHAEL BLASENSTEIN

Washington

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William Raspberry asked what Michael Newdow and, in general, those who take a stand on public religious issues are afraid of. I think such questions allow a national debate to reach a meaningful conclusion. Unfortunately, Mr. Raspberry, like many who were against removing "under God" from the pledge, gave the wrong answer.

As an agnostic leaning toward atheism, I respect Mr. Newdow for drawing attention to the imbalance in what religious sentiments America chooses to accept.

Candidates for president or for Congress are almost forced to present themselves as religious; court witnesses swear on a Bible; lawmakers debate whether churches should provide federally funded social services instead of the government; and, yes, the Pledge of Allegiance assumes belief in God. Such customs are symptoms of a government influenced by religious thought, which frequently means Protestant Christian thought.

This may not be what the Bill of Rights specifically prohibits, but for me, it's far too close.

GREG GREEN

Ellicott City

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The Post says that the Supreme Court would have entered "a genuinely gray area of law" had the justices opted to rule on the constitutionality of "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance [editorial, June 15].

Let's see. The First Amendment strictly prohibits Congress from making a law "respecting an establishment of religion," yet it was Congress that added the words "under God" to the pledge. Given that some religions don't refer to their supreme being as "God," that others recognize multiple gods and that some have no concept of God at all, the words "under God" discriminate against pretty much all but the Abrahamic religious traditions, not to mention against those who hold no religious beliefs. Congress made a law in 1954 both respecting an establishment of religion and excluding many others. What is "gray" about this?

ADRIAN M. RUSH

Fairfax