- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Americans combine the notions of religion and liberty so intimately in their minds that it is impossible to make them conceive of one without the other.

- Alexis de Tocqueville

If you watched NBC’s Sunday coverage of the young Northern Ireland golfer Rory McIlroy’s historic win at the U.S. Open in Bethesda, you probably also saw a feature whose purpose was to capture the patriotism of America’s national championship in our nation’s capital.

The NBC piece featured a group of schoolchildren reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, but two words - “under God” - were edited out.

Not surprisingly, the glaring omission ignited an instant backlash among viewers, prompting NBC to issue an on-air apology. “The omission,” NBC commentator Dan Hicks assured viewers, “was not done to upset anyone, and we’d like to apologize to those of you who were offended by it.”

I believe Mr. Hicks and NBC that the omission was not meant to upset anyone. But I also believe it was not accidental - after all, “under God” were the only two words left out.

In trying not to offend nonbelievers - the roughly one in 10 Americans who tell pollsters they do not believe in God - NBC offended many Americans - believers and nonbelievers alike - and did a profound injustice to America’s history and heritage.

The NBCPledge controversy is just the latest in a trend of the American elect seeming to go out of their way to erase faith references from the public discourse. President Obama has been the most notorious offender.

On at least three occasions, the president has removed the words “by their Creator” when reciting the second paragraph of the Constitution to audiences. Importantly, in at least one of those cases, Mr. Obama was reading from his teleprompter, which suggests the omission was deliberate.

The president has made numerous similar missteps. He has asserted that “Americans do not consider [them]selves a Christian nation” and incorrectly declared E Pluribus Unum - Latin for “Out of Many, One” - to be America’s national motto. (The motto is “In God we trust.” In 2009, Mr. Obama became the first president to leave out direct mention of God in his Thanksgiving proclamation.

Alone, any of these incidents would be unremarkable. Together they represent a disturbing trend among American leaders, many of whom take it for granted that contemporary American life is hostile to nonbelievers and especially non-Christians.

That is why Obama administration officials go out of their way to separate Islam from terrorism. Instead, when in 2009 the Department of Homeland Security told law enforcement to be on the alert for terrorism, it instructed officers to watch for Christian identity groups.

This was ridiculous. While it is clear that most Muslims are not terrorists, it is just as clear that most terrorists are Muslims who say they are inspired to violence by their faith. The Department of Homeland Security even conceded that it has “no specific information” about Christian terrorist plots.

It is true, as Mr. Obama says, “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and nonbelievers.” But it also is true that we are a nation founded and formed by the Judeo-Christian understanding of God - an understanding deeply rooted in our founding documents and sustaining ideals.

To leave the words “under God” out of the Pledge or to omit the words “by their Creator” from the Declaration of Independence is to whitewash the truth. America’s ruling class often seems mystified or embarrassed by the nation’s religiosity.

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