The phrase "under god" wasn't added to the pledge of allegiance until 1954. Congress crowbared it in there under pressure from the Knights of Columbus. This was during the height of the Red Scare, when the phrase "godless communists" was bandied about often enough to give people the ridiculous idea that all communists were atheists, and all atheists were communists. Now the ninth circuit court has ruled that schools can't use the "under God" pledge as part of the school curriculum.
We are not, nor have we ever been, one nation under God. We are more than a quarter billion different people, worshiping different Gods in different ways, and in many cases, no gods at all. A child whose beliefs differ from the mainstream, when confronted by this pledge, has to either compromise their faith (or lack of faith) or stay silent for that portion of the pledge.
The solution is very simple: go back to the original pledge of allegiance by removing those two words. But simple solutions don't sit well with those demanding that government get in (or in this case, stay in) the religion business. They'd rather beat their chest and lament that the nation is in rotten shape because people dare to believe differently than they do. Many of these preachers are among the most corrupt and immoral people in the world: congress.
Congress weasels usually ignore the opening prayer that starts each congressional session. But the day after this ruling, anxious to appear pious, they made a big deal of participating in it. In Matthew 6: 5-6 Christ refers to people who pray publicly as hypocrites, and advises his followers to pray in private. Obliviously, these grandstanders haven't spent much time reading their Bibles.
In any discussion of religion and government, religion's promoters fall back on the tired argument that the founding fathers were, for the most part, religious people. This is true, but it's an argument against the point they're trying to make. The FFs could have very easily put religion in the constitution. It would have received wide popular support. But despite their strong faith, or perhaps because of it, they chose the opposite path. They specifically and deliberately declared that the government should not be in the religion business, not even a little, and made that prohibition the very first clause of the very first amendment in the Bill of Rights.
This will, of course, be appealed, and probably end up in the hands of the Supreme Court. Expect a 6-3 decision against the ninth circuit's constitutionally correct conclusion. The Supremes will likely pretend that "under God" is generic enough to be allowable. But putting just a little bit of religion in government is like putting just a little bit of sewerage in your beer.
There are those who say this is too trivial an issue to take up our time, and we should compromise. OK, here's the compromise I propose. When the pledge gets to the "under god" line, have every student shout out the name of their god, all at once, like a drunken audience at an Improv show. " and to the republic, for which it stands, one nation under Jehovah! Vishnu! Krishna! Buddha! Allah! Yahweh! Your Imaginary Friend!" That last one would be from the atheist kid.
Or we could just have kids recite the pledge as it was originally intended to be recited, without the religious trappings. Naw, too simple.
If you didn't like this article, you most certainly won't enjoy "Mind Your Business," which discusses removing "In God We Trust" from our money.
© 2002 Dave Hitt