Posted on April 20, 2003
KNOXVILLE — Sen. Lamar Alexander has lent his support to an effort to keep the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, saying the United States can separate church and state and still be a religious country under God. Alexander, R-Tenn., flew from Washington to Knoxville on Friday and visited with gospel icon the Rev. J. Bazzel Mull, his wife, Elizabeth, and their daughter, Charlotte Mull. The family encouraged viewers of their television program, The Mull Singing Convention, to write Alexander letters in opposition to a California court ruling. The ruling declared the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional when recited in public schools because it contains the words "under God." The court ruled in favor of a Sacramento, Calif., atheist who objected because his daughter in second grade was required to recite the pledge. California's 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later rejected a request by President Bush to reconsider the decision. The Mulls' request prompted 10,854 letters, 773 e-mails and a multitude of phone calls. "This is our way of saying, 'we don't want this,'" said Charlotte Mull, who is worried the decision - which affects nine Western states - might move across the country. Alexander participated in the filming of the Mulls' weekly television show, where he pledged his support and promised to bring the letters before Congress. "My hope is that the U.S. Supreme Court will decide that (the ruling) was wrong," he said.