July 04, 2002
Dawson said I could post this here

Dawson has this posted on his site that an anon friend has written. He gave me permission to repost it in full here. I have invited Dawson to this board but at this time, he chooses not to come play with us. Oh well.

On the merits of under God. Two points that keep being repeated, but not very well answered:

1) The Pledge did not originally have "under God" in it.


And I keep hearing something like:

"The reason this phrase was inserted was to draw a contrast between America as a "God-fearing" nation and the "godless Communist" regimes of the former Soviet-block."

My thoughts:

Perhaps the public justification at the time, in order to achieve consensus was as above. Unified and inclusive thoughts are often expressed by highlighting the difference between us and an already agreed-on them. Certainly, it's an easier sell.

Perhaps, alternatively, the public justification was euphemism for acknowledging the unadmitted shame of exclusion for that generation's previous anti-semitism. It does not strike me as coincidence, that the Knights of Columbus, representing a previously excluded minority group, lobbied for this addition. Nor, that the concept of Judeo-Christian, as opposed to exclusively Christian labeling was also, at the time, a relatively new way of expressing the religiosity embedded in the original ideals of our founding fathers, as inclusively as politically possible at the time, especially by a post war generation of concentration camp liberators, who now had their finger on the bomb. The heavy weight of responsibility, and fear of failure, and doubts of inadequacy, must have been overwhelming.

When I hear under God in the Pledge, I, (an admittedly weak Christian), am reminded that Americans, in all our pride and power, are also human, and that humility, not arrogance should be our guide. Is this a uniquely religious thought that must be expunged, absolutely, in this now-enlightened world post Madeleine Murray O'hair? Can we not, instead, view the phrase as a uniquely American attempt at inclusion, at unity, encompassing all who came before while staying open for those to come?

In a message to Supreme Knight Luke E. Hart at the meeting of the Supreme Council in Louisville, August 17, 1954, President Eisenhower, in recognition of the initiative of the Knights of Columbus in originating and sponsoring amendment to the Pledge of Allegiance, said:

"We are particularly thankful to you for your part in the movement to have the words 'under God' added to our Pledge of Allegiance. These words will remind Americans that despite our great physical strength we must remain humble. They will help us to keep constantly in our minds and hearts the spiritual and moral principles which alone give dignity to man, and upon which our way of life is founded. For the contribution which your organisation has made to this cause, we must be genuinely grateful."

The post-war generation of the 50's carried more in its heart, than anti-communism.

And that other Eisenhower quote, that keeps popping up? Seems like it's coming from here

2) Ought an individual be required to express a belief in God in order to express allegiance to our nation.

No, but a responsible citizen should not be able to declare for all, how allegiance to our nation is to be expressed. I find it almost impossible to believe, that a non-believer in God is so threatened, so coerced, that constitutional protection must be granted and invoked - that his conscience is so broken by its utterance by others, while he tries to express allegiance. How is under God, to a non-believer in God, threatened by those who so believe?

And, if WE feel strongly enough about it, to want to be sure WE are included, why not take a page from the K of C and start a campaign to do so. Let's just stop taking shortcuts by reading something into a document, that isn't there, because it's easier to get a majority of like-minded judges to decide (rather than interpret) policy for us, rather than a majority of the policy-makers and policy-deciders.

Rather than the separation of Church and State, I would like to see more discussion on the Separation of Powers and Responsibilities of Government by and for its people.

Executive. Legislative. Judicial.

WE, the people, elect the head of the Executive Branch. WE, the people, elect the members of the Legislative Branch. The Judicial Branch is appointed by THEM. (for the most part - see the recent Supremes on Minnesota and elected Judges). There are reasons. I've heard it said that if THEY wanted to keep under God in there, THEY should mount a campaign to amend the constitution.

Baloney.

If WE want to help more folks feel included while citing the pledge, maybe WE should mount a campaign for more inclusive language. WE get to do that. WE vote for control of the Executive and Legislative branches. WE do not abrogate OUR responsibilities to activist Judges (regardless of ideological, or partisan position) who think THEY know better than WE do (regardless of whether WE agree with THEM, or not).

The descriptor "responsible citizen" does not come to mind when I read about the plaintiff in this suit (see here and here.)

Sources/Readings to date:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A58697-2002Jun27.html
http://www.proteinwisdom.com/archives/002254.html#002254
http://www.wsu.edu/~tcook/doc/RAPT/Chapt1.html
http://www.townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/ts20020628.shtml
http://www.vineyard.net/vineyard/history/pledge.htm
http://www.americanhumanist.org/pledge.html
http://www.ilsr.org/columns/2002/050102.html
http://atheismawareness.home.att.net/questions/pledge_allegiance.htm
http://www.eppc.org/publications/xq/ASP/pubsID.291/qx/pubs_viewdetail.htm
http://www.stanford.edu/~rony/166G1/papers2001samantha.htm
http://www.msnbc.com/news/774189.asp?0dm=N16PO

Posted by at July 04, 2002 06:03 PM
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