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The Pledge of Allegiance Debate
Wednesday, 2003 October 15 - 1:55 am
The contentious issue of church-state separation rises again. The Supreme Court is preparing to tackle a landmark case on whether it is unconstitutional to have a school lead the recital of a pledge that contains the words "under God".

Before tackling the issue at hand, let me first make an observation that the current Supreme Court seems to be one of the most activist courts in history, and one of the most philosophically divided. That seems a dangerous combination.

So it seems a man won a lawsuit in the always-entertaining Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where they ruled that the school-led Pledge of Allegiance represented a violation of church-state separation, specifically because of the words "under God" (inserted into the Pledge during the height of cold war communism paranoia). One has to admire the gumption of those judges, making such a decision despite the obvious backlash they would face.

And the fact is, they are right. The Christian majority of this country doesn't see it, but if one substitutes the words "under the great sun god Ra" or "under Buddha" or "under Athena" for the phrase "under God", how many people would be willing to have their children say that every morning? The fact is, "under God" is not all-inclusive, especially to those poor atheist outcasts.

And I should know, because as a secular Japanese kid growing up in an American school, the concept of God was utterly alien to me, and it rankled me having to recite the Pledge. (There are lots of other irritations I faced as a Japanese kid in an American school, but that's a topic for another day.)

People will argue that God is an integral part of our nation's history; that we have the words "In God We Trust" on our currency, that Congress has a prayer before each session, and so on. And yes, that's true. But that doesn't make it right. That sort of argument is the same sort of argument used to defend the flying of the Confederate flag in the South, and it doesn't wash. One can't simply say, "we've been doing it that way this whole time, so what's wrong with it?" Remember, in our nation's history, we've also robbed Native Americans of their land, enslaved an entire race of people, annihilated hundreds of thousands of civilians, denied equal rights to women, and meddled in the affairs of sovereign nations to serve our own self-interests. Our country's greatness does not come from our checkered heritage; it comes from our ability to correct our own failings, to evolve into a higher morality.

There are those who will see this issue as an attack on Christianity. Not so. Hopefully, intelligent Christians will recognize that religious freedom is best served when government is kept as far away as possible. Just think of it this way: if "under God" is okay, then what about the phrase "with liberty, justice, and symbolic baptism by immersion for all"? What say you now, Catholics and Presbyterians?
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Posted by Ken in: politics

Comments

Comment #1 from Alyssa (Guest)
2005 Oct 17 - 5:12 pm : #
I don't know if i misinterpreted this part of the article, but when I read the "under Athena" part, I immediately thought it was referring to Greece. If so, then that was incorrect. Greeks do not worship "many gods" these days, unlike back in Ancient Greece. Most Greeks now are Eastern Orthodox Christian. I understand the point trying to be enforced, but I really believe that your facts should be right.
Comment #2 from Ken (realkato)
2005 Oct 17 - 5:27 pm : #
Um... Alyssa, if you go back and read what I wrote again, you'll note that I never said or even implied that modern Greeks worship Athena.

And, "...believe your facts should be right"? This is a BLOG, fer cryin' out loud. There are no facts here. Sheesh. If you're doing research for a school paper on the Pledge of Allegiance (as thousands of kids seem to be doing when they hit my site), you're in the wrong place.
Comment #3 from Matthew Cooper (Guest)
2007 May 7 - 1:53 pm : #
Your comments about separating church and state were perfect, and the remark about smart Christians defending their freedom of religion best by defending everyone else's freedom at the same time were wonderful. Also speaking of the pledge, there is the most recent form of racism through language against Spanish speakers. Here's a link to a website about the school system in Charlottle, North Carolina. It's scary, indicating that the people complaining don't seem to have even understood the pledge itself. Here's the link below.
http://www.wbtv.com/news/topstories/5421951.html

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