The North Carolina Secular Association recently launched a billboard campaign that was designed to announce to the nation that everyone deserves a voice in the democratic process. It quoted the text of the Pledge of Allegiance as it was written in 1892. The billboard read, "One nation indivisible" (a quote as it appeared in the original text).
Like their anti-communist, paranoid predecessors, some people decided to change the text by inserting the words "under God" after the word "nation."
At the very least, this is a criminal act of vandalism, demonstrating that, despite all claims to the contrary, being religious doesn't make you a moral, law abiding citizen. In this case, it has turned someone into a petty thug on a par with a member of a hoodlum street gang.
But there is something more sinister at work. There is an element of fascism here that says, "Ours is the only voice we will allow to be heard!"
With the thousands of religious billboards, signs, churches and images on display locally, it is very tempting to respond in kind. But we are bigger than that. We have to be.
To the vandals, I would say only that you have marvelously demonstrated the true face of religion. With its bloody history of violence, hatred and oppression, you have far better represented the true tolerance of religion than a thousand of our billboards could.
I would also tell everyone to read a bit farther down in the pledge. All we are asking is what is promised in its last line.
Liberty and justice for all.