To the editor: In this day and age, an increasing number of people do not affiliate with any religion. I cringe when I see vitriolic comments aimed at those who do not ascribe to the writer's particular brand of religion. ("Patriotic Americans have the right not to believe in any God," Editorial, Dec. 7)
Multiple people have told me they have never met an atheist and recoil with shock when I reveal myself as one. This should not be something that drastically alters my personal relations with other people, yet it often does. Some states even have laws barring me from public office.
Viewing life through a different prism should not result in second-class citizenship.
Alex Loiben, Ithaca, N.Y.
To the editor: The Times seems to suffer from a severe case of religious paranoia. No American is being coerced to utter the phrase "one nation under God." Any American can simply remain silent during a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance without feeling like a second-class citizen.
Do these individuals feel like second-class citizens when they read the Declaration of Independence, which makes direct reference to God and a creator?
Sam Chaidez, Mission Hills
To the editor: One wonders whether the proposed Mississippi constitutional amendment — which would effectively initiate the state's transition to a Christian theocracy — is a joke. Other states should consider their own amendments along these lines:
"This state acknowledges the fact of her identity as a religiously diverse and progressively enlightened state; accordingly, the unrestricted opportunities she provides her citizens to practice their chosen faiths in homes, churches and other private venues shall remain intact to ensure freedom of religion. Accordingly, government-sanctioned prayers and other endorsements of religion are deemed neither necessary for religious adherents to practice their faith nor respectful of her citizenry's widely varying and continually evolving beliefs."
Sandra Perez, Santa Maria