Letters to the Editor: If you want ‘one nation under one God,’ chances are it won’t be your religion

A man, right, holds up a crucifix with a red beaded necklace. Next to him, a woman waves.
An opponent of abortion rights carries a crucifix during a Walk for Life event in San Francisco in 2019.
(Jessica Christian / San Francisco Chronicle)

To the editor: Former national security advisor Michael Flynn’s proposal to have America be “one nation under God and one religion under God” is dangerous, delusional, divisive and a distortion of history. (“No, Michael Flynn, America doesn’t need one religion,” Opinion, Nov. 20)

Besides, just what would that one religion be? Obviously, in Flynn’s view, it would be neither Islam nor any of the myriad religions thought of as being “Eastern.” And, regardless of when the term “Judeo-Christian” was coined, it does not describe one religion, but rather a supposed shared ethical belief system.

So, does Flynn mean Catholicism or Judaism? My guess is no. That leaves Protestantism. But even that comprises many separate faiths whose adherents vehemently disagree about minor and major tenets of their beliefs.


Flynn is blowing a dog whistle, hoping that each person who hears him will believe that his or her religion will be the chosen one. Even my dog knows better than to listen.

Andrew Rubin, Los Angeles


To the editor: The vibrant religious culture we enjoy today as the West’s most pious democracy exists not in spite of our secular tradition but because of it. The tolerance, pluralism and unfettered expression we experience are assured only by state-sanctioned freedom of conscience.

Flynn’s Christian nation argument is attractive. Many Americans would prefer an “established” state church and an implied covenant: If we revere God, He will protect and bless us.

But secularism has also added to our identity as a beacon of freedom. Without an age of reason, for example, the abolitionist movement would not have been able to de-contextualize Scripture’s implicit sanction of slavery and segregation. The political emancipation of women would have been forestalled, and marriage equality would be unthinkable.

Indeed, while Christian heritage advocates see divine providence in the founding of the nation, secularists celebrate 1776 as the birth of a new kind of elevated state, a society with no throne and no altar, where human reason is ascendant. Reconciling these two impulses is a core challenge of our political system.

David DiLeo, San Clemente


To the editor: Flynn says America needs one God and one religion. May I just say that if his brand of “religion” is the one he’s promulgating, count me out.

I could be wrong, but I’ve always lived under the concept that believers in God were moral, truth-telling, decent people. If anyone has “lost sight of that,” it’s Flynn.

I repeat: Count me out.

Rebecca Hertsgaard, Palm Desert


To the editor: Randall Balmer, an Episcopal priest, reminds us of attempts in previous times to harness belief in God into one form of expression. President Lincoln and Mike Mansfield, the Senate majority leader in the 1960s, were instrumental in thwarting such attempts in their own time.

I cannot help but be reminded of Germany in a time many of us were born — a time when one man mesmerized the nation against Jews, who were murdered in ungodly numbers.

God is too vast to be relegated to one religion. The 1st Amendment remains America’s best idea.

Mary Leah Plante, Los Angeles