An Open Letter to Charles Walker

by Ron Garrett

Background: On June 26, 2002, the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the phrase “under God” in America’s Pledge of Allegiance is an unconstitutional violation of the separation of church and state, finding in favor of a California atheist, Dr. Michael Newdow, who had filed suit against it. In response, a theist military veteran wrote the following piece of chillingly hateful propaganda, which was circulated over the Internet.

To all concerned, including the idiot that started this,

I am a retired US Navy veteran with over 22 years of service to this country. I fought in the wars that this atheist scum avoided. I watched friends go to war and be changed, but I never heard any of them ever say they wanted to change our beliefs such as banning the Pledge of Allegiance.

To serve this great country of ours is an honorable tradition. Much like our brothers and sisters in law enforcement and fire departments have across the country. We have fought other countries so that they would not infringe upon our rights. We even protected the rights of this idiot to freedom of speech. Well, now it is my turn to exercise my rights.

To all atheists, as far as I am concerned, you are no better than the Terrorists of Bin Laden. They are working to undermine the deepest and most sacred traditions of this country, just like you. It is our right to honor, pray and preach to our God in any way we believe.

The majority of people, in this country, believes in God, in some form or another. Therefore, you are part of a minority, a very sick minority and you have over stepped the bounds of decency and fairness. I am sick of these people who deny the majority their rights. These people are neither Liberals or Conservatives, they are a mentally sick portion of our society that have found the cash needed to finance these dastardly attacks against our country using our systems. Does this sound familiar, like 9/11.

I say to you all now. If I want to pray in church, a restaurant, or have my kids say the Pledge of Allegiance, they will have that right to say it anywhere and everywhere in this country. In school, a government facility, a home, or even in a church. In my mind, I consider you a terrorist. There will be many out there who will agree with me. Maybe it would be a good time for you to think about moving to another country. The kind of country you need is one that will take away your freedoms, your rights, and most of all deny any kind of a good life for your children. Your persistence and actions have stirred a mighty giant and I believe there will be no place for you to live here.

I believe in Jesus Christ our Savior. Not only is he mine, but he is yours too. In his teachings he tells us to turn the other cheek. For 52 years I have turned the cheeks in all directions to the actions of people like you. Now you attack my rights and the rights of my children. I will not take it anymore, I am launching a movement among God fearing people to return this nation to respect the ideals and concepts that made this mighty democracy a shining star to the world. In addition, I will pray to our God to deliver you from the persistent evil that has you clouded in atheism. Open your eyes blind man and see the wonder of God.

Those of you who have read this, if you believe like I do, that our nation is under attack from within, please forward this email to all and lets send a message to our elected officials and specifically to the courts of California. Enough is enough……make a commitment or be prepared to be conquered. The ball is in your court now.

Charles Walker USN ret.

On July 12, a copy of the above piece was posted to the Internet Infidels discussion forum. In response, IIDF contributor Ron Garrett wrote the following.

To Charles Walker USN ret.:

I am a U.S. Army veteran. I cowardly volunteered to wear green clothing and hump a machine gun instead of enjoying the fresh salt air, like you, Chuck. I am also, quite incidentally, an atheist, in part because folk like you continually demonstrate the inability of your god to improve upon so many of his worshippers, but mostly because after years of zealous worship and study, including seminary, ordination and pulpit ministry, I came to realize my religion was built on myth, falsehood and no evidence that could hold up to any kind of scrutiny. But my purpose here is not to defend my beliefs, but rather my Constitutionally protected right to have them without interference from any religious kook who thinks he has a direct channel to “the other side.”

I was born before the insertion of “under God” in the Pledge in 1954, as you were too, Chuck, though apparently you don’t know that, or other things, like for instance that “E Pluribus Unum” is the motto formerly emblazoned on the Great Seal of the United States. Diversity was our strength in theory then, but today it is more in reality than ever, doubtless to your ever-growing dismay and those like you who think “Out of Many, One” means you get to create by force a nation that looks like you, thinks like you and believes like you, which is indeed a betrayal of everything this nation was envisioned to be.

I do not oppose the Pledge of Allegiance or know those who do, but I oppose leading public school children in the version containing the insertion of the Roman Catholic Knights of Columbus-originated phrase “under God.” I oppose the imposition of any religion on children or anyone by the government, something prohibited by the First Amendment of the Constitution that you and I both swore to uphold at our induction, Chuck.

The apparent difference between us, Chuck, is I meant it when I swore to uphold the Constitution (though I suspect another difference is I have actually read and own a copy of the document) and though I’m no longer part of the Big Green Machine, I haven’t forsaken that oath as you clearly have.

You seem to think that only those who share your superstitions can be patriotic. You seem to think atheism equates to cowardice. Courtesy to the readers prevents me telling you what you can do with that notion. Try facing death knowing that when you die, that’s it. No more. You’re through. No Christian tooth fairy is going to magically turn the dust of your bones back into an immortal body. It doesn’t take any courage to sit in a church full of people that share your beliefs and shout “Amen.” It takes courage to stand up to millions of religious fanatics who think you need to die for not being one of them, fanatics like you and Osama bin Laden, and say, “You’re welcome to your superstition, and I will defend your right to it, but you may not impose your superstitions on me or my children.”

To serve this great country of ours is, as you say, an honorable tradition, one my family has upheld since we arrived here among the first Jamestown colonists before there was a “country” to serve. I know atheists who have served and some still serving. That you think only Christians have done and are doing this is just stupid and out of touch with reality, Chuck.

Americans have indeed fought other countries so that they would not infringe upon our rights and the rights of others. We fought in Kosovo to defend the rights of Moslems being slaughtered by good Orthodox Christian Serbs. We fought in Germany, on the side of the world’s one nominally atheist nation, the USSR, to save the world from good German Lutherans and Catholics, and in the Pacific to save the world from good Shintoists, Animists, Buddhists and Emperor worshippers. You god-believers have caused a lot of misery, Chuck. Now we’re having to fight more religious kooks over terrorist attacks. And you, a religious kook, are trying to equate our rejection of your religion with the act of the religious kooks who attacked the WTC and Pentagon. Great misdirection, Chuck, and maybe some folks are as stupid as you think and might accept that pretzel logic, but not all.

We have also fought the hatemongers within our own borders, Chuck, though they were always in the “majority.”

Christians like you hung women for witchcraft in Salem and imprisoned people in Virginia for not going to your churches, but fair-minded, decent people eventually opposed such things, and it stopped.

Christians like you slaughtered “heathen Indians” in the conquest of the West and tried to impose your religion on their children (those you left alive) by force, but fair-minded, decent people eventually opposed such things and it stopped.

Christians like you used your religion and the promise of a better afterlife to pacify slaves whose slavery was justified from the Bible, then went about hanging freedmen before the flaming cross of Christ, doing what religious fanatics have always done, oppressing the weak and the outnumbered and killing those they cannot control, but fair-minded, decent people eventually opposed such things, and it’s mostly stopped.

Tyranny isn’t okay as long as it’s a Christian playing tyrant, Chuck. Tyranny sows the seed of its own destruction, and it’s men like you, Chuck, that speed the day of liberty by uniting fair-minded, decent people, often including Christians who’ll think you really aren’t much of one, to resist your desire to bully, threaten, dominate and remake everyone in your own petty, small, ignorant and hateful image.

If you understood anything about the “Terrorists of Bin Laden”, Chuck, you would know that you two are brothers under the skin. But of course what you are really trying to do is tar atheists with the brush of race-hatred you’re using on Moslems, now that 9/11 has provided an outlet for your innate bigotry.

Yet Osama is not an atheist, but an even more zealous god-believer than you, Chuck! He’s working to subject the world to the theocratic rule of his religion, his image of his god and his understanding of his god’s commandments for humanity, most of which (if you would or even could read the Koran), you probably agree with to a degree that would surprise you, but not me.

That’s the problem, Chuck. Whose version of the real truth of the universe wins? Who gets to decide we have to believe in one god, or many gods, or no gods? Under our Constitution, only I get to decide that for me, and you for you, and neither of us gets to use our temporary control of the government to bully others into agreement, or program children in a public school classroom to believe in someone else’s gods and prophets against the parent’s wishes, or even in accordance with them, because the government can’t do that under our law.

If you don’t like the Constitution, Chuck, maybe you should move to another country, like Iran, where the government can impose the majority religion on everyone.

It certainly is your right to honor, pray and preach your God. It is not your right to impose that on my family, and me, nor may the government do so for you. You may hop up and down raising your hands in the congregation shouting praises to whomever or whatever. Pray. Preach. But the government may not pass laws promoting religion and may not give monies and property for the promotion of religion, and if the majority in this country were Moslem, and you part of a Christian minority, which you may be someday soon, you would be very glad that the Constitution protected your children from the government turning the schools into Moslem indoctrination centers.

The majority of people in this country indeed believe in some god or gods, in some form or another. They also believe in flying saucer kidnappings, ghosts, and a still living Elvis. People believe a lot of silly things with no evidence or proof. If you were honest you’d admit you believe other religions are fatally wrong and what you believe about God is right, but you can’t prove it any more than they. You doubtless think all Jews and Moslems are going to hell, and Hindus who believe in many gods are going to an especially deep hell. Atheists at least obey the commandment against serving other gods. Why single them out?

All of you god-believers can’t agree and indeed proclaim loudly that the other god-believers are wrong, so how do you blame atheists for not being able to tell “the one true faith” from all the ones being offered?

You say the atheist minority has overstepped the bounds of decency and fairness. Is it indecent and unfair to insist that the law be obeyed and our children not be programmed to believe in things that we reject? If the tables were turned you’d see my point.

You say you are “sick of these people” who deny you, the majority, your rights. What religious right have you ever been denied, Chuck? Is your church open? Doesn’t it operate tax-free? Certainly religious folk of every stripe are free to pound on my door, tell me they have the one truth, tell me I’m going to hell if I don’t agree. Now thanks to a Supreme Court stacked with religious zealots you can even send your kids to religious schools with my tax dollars, also against the Constitution, including Moslem schools that teach the hatred of Christians like you and Americans in general.

Is it not enough to have your own schools from preschools to universities operating tax-free? Do you have to use the public schools to force your god on us as well? You have thousands of your own radio stations and television stations. You have million-dollar preachers in mansions raising millions more with fake healing shows without anyone’s interference. There’s a church of some kind on nearly every block. Tim LaHaye’s end-of-the-world books are all over the bestseller list. Can you not be satisfied with just a little less than global religious tyranny by fundamentalist Christians? Who was it you were saying is just like bin Laden?

Just how are your rights being violated, Chuck? Who’s hurt you? How does my rejecting your superstition harm you in any way? If you want to pray in church, a restaurant, or have your kids say the Pledge of Allegiance with “under God”, they have that right to say it. But a public school class led by a government-paid teacher, at least for the moment, can’t lead the children in a profession of religious faith.

I am certain your fellow-travelers in the Supreme Court will make it better and allow you once again to try to shove your God down every child’s throat, in a school, a government facility, their own home, or anywhere else. But what happens in the day when you’re not in the majority, Chuck, and some other religious kooks are in charge shoving their religion down your grandkids’ throats with the Supreme Court’s approval? What happens when they label you a terrorist when you resist them and tell you to leave the country if you don’t like it? You’ll wish then you’d meant your oath to defend the Constitution and it will be too late. The precedent will be set.

You say you consider me a terrorist because I reject your religion. You say it would be a good time for me to think about moving to another country. Men like you said that to the Indians as they took away their lands. Men like you said that to the freed slaves after the Civil War and tried to ship them all to Liberia. Where I live, men like you are saying that to the Hindu and Moslem Americans who live in this area, because men like you always use a time of crisis to reassert their bigotry under the cover of false patriotism.

Unfortunately for you, I really am a patriot, Chuck, and that’s why I am not going anywhere! I’m not abandoning this country that I love and which holds so much promise, to the cruelty and stupidity of small-minded, frightened, hateful little men. I’m not going to let anyone turn this country into one that will take away my freedoms or your freedoms, and most of all deny any kind of a good life for our children. I’ll go on living here and working to see liberty, harmony, dignity, respect and tolerance prevail, and in the end, decent, fair-minded people will eventually see your kind of bigotry for what it is, spiteful insecurity and bullying, and reject it, as indeed many Christians I know already have. But if you or someone like you decides to come for me, Chuck, you should know I won’t go meekly to the lions with a hymn on my lips, or fall to my knees begging for angelic aid. I’ve never backed down from a bully, and you won’t be the first to make me.

You say you believe in Jesus Christ as your savior and that he is mine too. You’re welcome to your belief, Chuck. You say you’re sick of turning the other cheek over actions of people like me? Well, this pledge ruling is one instance, Chuck. You Christians are 50 gizallion to one in the win-loss column in this country, and this one will get overturned, so I’m darned if I can understand how you’ve had to turn the other cheek. But if it galls you that you can’t force us to be like you, you’re just going to have to live with that, Chuck.

Considering all the preferences Christians get under our laws, I’m feeling pretty excluded for good reason, yet I’m not out trying to program your kids over your dead body, Chuck, as you think you have the god-given right to do to mine!

Chuck, I think you’re really upset because your faith is weak and its foundation rotted, and you are scared to death by someone who points it out by refusing to believe your delusions on the thin evidence you can show. You see child-molesting priests, money-stealing preachers, you look around for evidence that your god is in charge and see none, and you don’t believe your god has the power to enlighten the lost and save the soul anymore. So out of fear and frustration, you want to go out and do your god’s job for him. Being the take-charge-from-behind-a-computer-keyboard guy you are, you want to play warrior-prophet and make the world see things your way. Well, if your God is so weak that you and your ilk are his only hope of victory, well then Chuck, all hope is lost.

Open your own eyes. Pray for your own soul. Mind your own business, and we’ll get along fine, Chuck.

Please forward this to anyone that knows who Charles Walker is and can get him my message, and send a letter to your elected officials telling them to uphold the First Amendment. Write specifically to the 9th Federal Circuit justices who voted for this decision, congratulating them on clear legal reasoning in the defense of the Constitution and the rights of all Americans, majority and minority, and to the Supreme Court encouraging them to uphold the First Amendment and not weaken it for the sake of toadying to religious bigots. Enough is enough. Make a commitment, but be prepared to have some loon in a white hood and bedsheet burn a cross on your lawn, because the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, and sadly, there are a lot like Chuck out there. Fortunately, they really won’t “live and reign forever.” Amen.

-Ron Garrett