DEAR ABBY: Would you please tell your readers that not reciting or participating in the Pledge of Allegiance does NOT mean that someone is a "bad American"?
For religious reasons, I cannot say the Pledge. I sit quietly while it's recited, but unfortunately, others can't keep quiet about my silence. They make a scene and begin interrogating me -- especially at sporting events. Others have better manners, but still insist that I stand in "respect" -- but standing IS participating.
Abby, I have been punched, kicked, cursed at and spat upon, often in front of my children. People scream about their war records or their soldier relatives. Well, I have kin "over there," too. Please do not assume that non-participants are bad people. They might even be Canadian! -- SILENT SUPPORTER, BENSON, N.C.
DEAR SILENT SUPPORTER: Thank you for a letter that may educate those who do not understand that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance does not automatically make them more patriotic -- or better Americans -- than those who do not. Physically or verbally attacking someone because the person doesn't conform is not a sign of patriotism. It's a symptom of intolerance, and should get the guilty parties tossed out of the events.
For anyone who may not already know, Quakers do not take oaths -- even in courts of law -- nor do they salute religious symbols. The person remaining silent (and seated) when the Pledge is recited could also be a member of a religion outside the Judeo-Christian matrix, or even a member of a certain sect of Buddhism.
Dear Abby advice for the day: When in doubt, keep your mouth shut.