July 23, 2002
James Randi speaks up on the Pledge decision.

I've been away for a bit and a recent posting I tried to accomplish over the weekend went up in smoke when my browser crashed out for no apparrent reason. Such is life. So, to help stir things up a little bit I thought I'd offer a small bit of commentary from skeptic James Randi on the reactions some of the Senators gave to the recent Pledge decision. The points he makes here are ones I hadn't considered before:

Expressing here a personal opinion: In the recent Pledge of Allegiance brouhaha, I ask you to consider quotations from three of the leading proponents of having "under God" retained in the Pledge. The court decision was that the "under God" inclusion is unconstitutional because it clearly expresses that the USA is aligned with belief in a Christian — or other variety of — deity.

Senator Robert Byrd, D-West Virginia, who voted for the addition of "under God" on the currency in the Congress on June 7, 1954, warned that any judges who declared the Pledge unconstitutional, should never come before him because he would "blackball" them. If that's not a threat, spoken by a US Senator against appointed judicial figures who have accomplished the legal functions asked and required of them, and have provided compelling proof of their decision, I don't know the meaning of the word, "threat." Webster's tells me it's "a declaration of an intention to inflict punishment, injury, etc., as in retaliation for or conditionally upon, some action or course." Threatening, under the law, is an offense — even if done by a Senator. Go ahead, try threatening a judge, and watch the black helicopters with the assault team drop into your back yard. When a senator does it, the result is only embarrassment for others.

Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, said, "This decision is nuts." I see. A proven, well-argued, decision by a properly appointed federal group of judges, is simply "nuts"? When it comes to a serious nut-competition, who do we suppose would win, in this case? Let's hear a serious discussion of "nuts" from the folks in South Dakota!

Senator Trent Lott, R-Mississippi, said, "This is obviously an unbelievable decision, as far as I am concerned, and an incorrect ruling and a stupid ruling." Let's talk. Can we ask from whence this "obvious" learned opinion was derived, Senator Lott? No, apparently not. At no point did any of these senators explain where the majority decision might be in error. That would seem, to my admittedly politically-naive mind, to be what would accompany those comments. It appears that senators can threaten and insult us, and are not easily called upon to explain their statements, their actions, or their opinions.

There's just so much about U.S. royalty that I don't understand.


Posted by at 03:01 PM
July 18, 2002
One nation looking over our shoulders

So what do you all think of this latest plan that our lovely government has come up with operation tips?
I think it's a bad idea and I just know that lots of patriotic americans are going to have that mushy I did a good thing by ratting out my dark complected, robe wearing neighbor or the one who talks on the cell phone too much, or the one who seems to have visitors all hours of the day, feeling. I worry about this. If we become a country of people who make calls to our government about what we think our neighbors might be doing, how long before we become a country of vigilantes who just start taking the law into our own hands and killing/maiming the neighbor we think is a terrorist?

Posted by at 08:16 AM
July 05, 2002
A response to a comment

Post edited.......

When I posted this entry originally, I was in a horrible mood with a chip on my shoulder. Things that I posted about have since been worked out so I would prefer to just remove what I had to say and leave it at that. ;o) I am leaving the comments in tact though. :o)

Posted by at 05:18 AM
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 06:03 PM
How the UK views the flap over the Pledge decision.

Sara mentions the following in her post a little further below:

If "under God" is removed I think that it will change the way the Nation as a whole is viewed. By other countries as well by ourselves.

I found the following article at BBC News on this very topic rather enlightening in light of Sara's comments. For those keeping count, out of 20 comments on the subject, 12 were fully in support of the decision.

"There ought to be limits to freedom."
-- George W. Bush

Posted by at 01:53 PM
Happy 4th

What to do with the kids today?
I'm not allowed to walk on the beach due to broken ankle so I guess that leaves sitting at home watching the fireworks on the TV.
We have a few sparklers and some fire crackers and my neighbors always seem to go all out.
But what about the shows on the TV?
Even sitting here this morning watching the today show as I always do, they have already started in with a few rounds of god bless America.
Will tonights shows be more of the same?
God bless America isn't our national song, our national anthem is.
I think I'll be finding myself either watching a movie or rapidly changing the channels as each station begins their boisterous choruses of that darn song.
It's very difficult to raise kids in a secular humanist way on holidays such as this.
We love our country and want to celebrate is just as much as everyone else does. We celebrate the freedoms that we have been given and remember the lives lost so that we can have those freedoms but the constant reminder that we need to be blessed is stomach turning.
Everyone waving their flags and crying and singing as loud as they can off key of course, is just so disturbing.

In any case, I hope that you all have a wonderful holiday and remember the freedoms that we have been given here in this great land of ours.
The freedom to speak, the freedom to be and the freedom to believe as you see fit.

Posted by at 08:02 AM
July 03, 2002
Some more food for thought.

Government being, among other purposes, instituted to protect the consciences of men from oppression, it certainly is the duty of Rulers, not only to abstain from it themselves, but according to their stations, to prevent it in others.
-- George Washington, letter to the Religious Society called the Quakers, September 28,1789, quoted from Albert J. Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom, also in Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, The Harper Book of American Quotations (1988)

It is always to be taken for granted, that those who oppose an equality of rights never mean the exclusion should take place on themselves.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine .

When the Know-Nothings get control, it [the Declaration of Independence] will read: "All men are created equal except negroes, foreigners and Catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.
-- Abraham Lincoln, letter to Joshua F. Speed, August 24, 1855, from Albert J. Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

I am persuaded, you will permit me to observe that the path of true piety is so plain as to require but little political direction. To this consideration we ought to ascribe the absence of any regulation, respecting religion, from the Magna-Charta of our country.
-- George Washington, responding to a group of clergymen who complained that the Constitution lacked mention of Jesus Christ, in 1789, Papers, Presidential Series, 4:274, the "Magna-Charta" here refers to the proposed United States Constitution

The civil government ... functions with complete success ... by the total separation of the Church from the State.
-- James Madison, 1819, Writings, 8:432, quoted from Gene Garman, "Essays In Addition to America's Real Religion"

A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine .

Quotes courtesy of Positive Atheism's Big List of Quotes.

Posted by at 06:14 PM
Thoughts on Some Recent Comments...

The following was originally going to appear in the comments section of Sarah's article on 07-03-2002 until it sort of took on a life of its own. It sort of morphed into it's present state because, as usual, I have far too much to say on these topics.

--------------------------------------------

The largest problem that I have seen in relation to this issue is that too many people are trying to make this a patriotism issue. Let me set the record straight. No one is trying to slam the Pledge of Allegiance. We are merely stating that the thrice-altered one is slanted toward one religion. This means that the government is endorsing one religion and that is the real issue. Attacking on the patriotism front will do no good in this instance.

If you want to argue heritage, remember that the original incarnation is older and the current one is actually younger that the Pledge as a whole. We are simply looking at the possibility of returning it to the traditional Pledge as it existed in it's original incarnation before it was altered to narrow it down to profess faith in one religion.

We treat each other certain ways that are not equal. Yes this is sad but true. Does the fact that we do treat each other poorly sometimes justify it? I was discussing this with a friend the other day and he said, (paraphrased) "If people do not like feeling singled out because they are different from the majority, tough. They made the decision to be different. They should grow thicker skins." I have to say that I hate that viewpoint. This is one of my best friends, but I have a serious point of contention with the belief in a mob mentality.

To quote from Wade Johnson's History of the Pledge:

1892 - His original Pledge read as follows: 'I pledge allegiance to my Flag and (to*) the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.' He considered placing the word, 'equality,' in his Pledge, but knew that the state superintendents of education on his committee were against equality for women and African Americans. [ * 'to' added in October, 1892. ]

32 years later

1924 - The National Flag Conference, under the 'leadership of the American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution, changed the Pledge's words, 'my Flag,' to 'the Flag of the United States of America.' Bellamy disliked this change, but his protest was ignored.

30 years later

1954 - Congress after a campaign by the Knights of Columbus, added the words, 'under God,' to the Pledge. The Pledge was now both a patriotic oath and a public prayer.

48 years later

2002 - The Supreme Court is preparing to look at the validity of the 1954 alteration.

What do I think it should say?

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with equality, liberty, and justice for all."

Is there equality for all? Is there liberty for all? Is there justice for all?

There is a quote from Robert Fulghum that I like to refer to when this question arises:

Americans prefer definite answers… Yes or no. No grays, please.

In Indonesia, there is a word in common use that nicely wires around the need for black and white. Belum is the word and it means "not quite yet." A lovely word implying continuing possibility. "Do you speak English?" "Belum." "Not quite yet." "Do you have children?" "Belum." "Not quite yet." "Do you know the meaning of life?" "Belum." "Not quite yet."

It is considered both impolite and cynical to say "No" outright…Perhaps. Maybe. Possibly. Not yes or no, but within the realm of what might be.

In answer, belum. Not quite yet.

(Pronounce it "bay-loom")

We are not quite there yet. Does that mean that we should not change things today since we are no there? Look at where we are at compared to the Dark Ages? We could still be leading Crusades to forcibly bring Christ to the masses. We have grown beyond that. This is merely another step in our growth as a civilization. The statement of "Under God" is meaningless. If a person says it and does not mean it, it is meaningless. If a person does not say it, then they are being singled out. While I agree that there is a limit to how much you should insulate people who single themselves out, I do not agree with government-mandated, religious division. Americans are not God-fearing, but some God-fearing people are Americans. You might say that Americans should be God-fearing. That's fine for you, but by law the government can't decide that for us.

Posted by at 04:02 PM
Another point of view

The original Pledge read as follows: 'I pledge allegiance to my Flag and (to*) the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.' He considered placing the word, 'equality,' in his Pledge, but knew that the state superintendents of education on his committee were against equality for women and African Americans. [ * 'to' added in October, 1892. ]

The Pledge now: 'I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all'

Almost a week ago there was a ruling to remove "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance. I don't agree that it should be removed. Instead of removing it, why don't we just make it where it's optional? You can say under God if you like, or under Allah, or nothing at all.

Why bother doing this you ask? That's just stupid you say?

Isn't that what is going on in the schools and at events where we do say the Pledge? I know that my daughters have told me that most in their school don't even say the Pledge. The kids still stand out of respect for the flag, but they don't say the words. I think that's fine, if they are Atheist or believe in an entity other than the "God", the One that it was inserted to represent. But others don't, obviously.

Why was it put into the Pledge in the first place? I have read that Francis Bellamy would "be spinning in his grave", I think is how his grand-daughter put it.

An excerpt from this site:
The true reason for allegiance to the Flag is the 'republic for which it stands.' ...And what does that vast thing, the Republic mean? It is the concise political word for the Nation - the One Nation which the Civil War was fought to prove. To make that One Nation idea clear, we must specify that it is indivisible, as Webster and Lincoln used to repeat in their great speeches. And its future?

If the Pledge's historical pattern repeats, its words will be modified during this decade. Below are two possible changes.

Some prolife advocates recite the following slightly revised Pledge: 'I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, born and unborn.'

A few liberals recite a slightly revised version of Bellamy's original Pledge: 'I pledge allegiance to my Flag, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with equality, liberty and justice for all.'

Personally, I don't think that it should be changed. That's my point of view. Everyone is saying that if it was changed to "under Allah" would I still have that point of view?

Yes I would.

I believe in God, I am proud of the fact that we have freedom in this country, to speak our mind and for me write these words, for you to express your feelings on my point of view as well.

If "under God" is removed I think that it will change the way the Nation as a whole is viewed. By other countries as well by ourselves.

Why not rule that the the song "God Bless America" cannot be sung unless you are in church as well. Or change the last stanza of the National Anthem? We have to do that as this is what it says now:

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner forever shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Why not change the actual beginning of the National Anthem as well?

Oh, say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

See in there where it says "the bombs bursting in air" doesn't that just conjure up the pictures of September 11th all over again? We cannot have people reliving that! (I'm being sarcastic here, y'know.)

My personal point-of-view on this whole thing can be summed up that in America if you don't like something, you can find a lawyer and get some publicity and maybe, just maybe, get rich off of it. That is the most disgusting thing I have ever heard.

I think that the man that brought up the case before the Supreme court, has never served in the military, thinks that everyone should actually be created equal. Fine, good, be created equal, but is that really the case in 2002? I strongly oppose that illusion. Haven't you, personally, seen at least one person that is homeless? Seen one person sleeping on a park bench? I have and more than one.

I'm proud to be an American and I am proud to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the country I was born and raised in. I'm proud of the fact that my husband has served this country for over 20 years in the Navy. I'm proud that I have the freedom to post this. (from Lee Greenwood's song) And I'm proud to an American, where at least I know I'm free.

Posted by at 08:30 AM
Insight from my Inbox

This one is making the rounds right now. I kinda like it.

Now I sit me down in school

Where praying is against the rule

For this great nation under God

Finds mention of Him very odd.


If Scripture now the class recites,

It violates the Bill of Rights.

And anytime my head I bow

Becomes a Federal matter now.

Our hair can be purple, orange or green,

That's no offense; it's a freedom scene.

The law is specific, the law is precise.

Prayers spoken aloud are a serious vice.

For praying in a public hall

Might offend someone with no faith at all.

In silence alone we must meditate,

God's name is prohibited by the state.


We're allowed to cuss and dress like freaks,

And pierce our noses, tongues and cheeks.

They've outlawed guns, but FIRST the Bible.

To quote the Good Book makes me liable.

We can elect a pregnant Senior Queen,

And the 'unwed daddy,' our Senior King.

It's "inappropriate" to teach right from wrong,

We're taught that such "judgments" do not belong.


We can get our condoms and birth controls,

Study witchcraft, vampires and totem poles.

But the Ten Commandments are not allowed,

No word of God must reach this crowd.


It's scary here I must confess,

When chaos reigns the school's a mess.

So, Lord, this silent plea I make:

Should I be shot; My soul please take!

Amen

Posted by PromoGuy at 07:57 AM
July 02, 2002
Food for thought from Mark Twain.

We teach them to take their patriotism at second-hand; to shout with the largest crowd without examining into the right or wrong of the matter--exactly as boys under monarchies are taught and have always been taught. We teach them to regard as traitors, and hold in aversion and contempt, such as do not shout with the crowd, and so here in our democracy we are cheering a thing which of all things is most foreign to it and out of place--the delivery of our political conscience into somebody else's keeping. This is patriotism on the Russian plan.
- Mark Twain, a Biography

...majority Patriotism is the customary Patriotism.
- "As Regards Patriotism," Europe and Elsewhere

In religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.
- Autobiography of Mark Twain

Source: Mark Twain Quotations, Newspaper Collections, & Related Resources by Barbara Schmidt.

Posted by at 04:54 PM
I Know the Christian Bible and Other Free Flowing Rants...

I must preface this by saying that I am presenting the perspective of a man who studied the Christian Bible with every intention of going to seminary. I have since left the church as it is filled with politics and over-zealous judgmental Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson fans. I am comfortable in my current belief system. It has a great deal of it's roots in the very best of the Christian ideal with an understanding of the reality that the Roman Empire destroyed much of the Bible and kept/fixed the parts that were the most conducive to their belief in what Christianity was all about. You now have an inkling as to where I stand.

I know the Christian Bible, and I can say with some authority that God doesn't care one iota if the words "Under God" are removed.

Luke 20
21 "Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.
22 Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"
23 He saw through their duplicity and said to them,
24 "Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription are on it?"
25 "Caesar's," they replied. He said to them, "Then give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."

God does not care what you say in your pledge of loyalty to your nation so long as it is not against Him. Give to the nation that which belongs to the nation and give to God what belongs to Him.

Matthew 6
5 "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

God prefers that the pledging of your allegiance to Him be done as a personal, private thing. Preaching and evangelizing are different since they are spreading the knowledge that you can have what the person who is delivering the message has. The sort of devotion that is presented in the Pledge of Allegiance is not the sort that God would prefer to be done in public anyway.

The profession of faith in God is a personal choice that the government can not ordain. Pledging allegiance to the flag and to the republic is outside of the boundaries of personal faith. The U.S.A. can not have a federally mandated profession of faith in a monotheistic belief system. If you do, then you have to say, "One Nation, Under God/Goddess, Gods/Goddesses, or none of the above."

I also feel reasonable certain that God does not want all of the people whom do not believe in him to profess an empty faith in him. Having an atheist recite the Pledge in its current incarnation would not please God, I would imagine.

Saying that we are a "Nation, Under God" means that we are ignoring what this country is. This country is a melting pot of all religions. Everyone is free to have his or her own religion and the government can't do one thing about it. They also can not pass laws that promote any religion over another.

When the people who make up our government stand up and say that this is a Christian, God-fearing nation, they are forgetting that the entire nation is not. They are dangerously treading on shaky ground, constitutionally speaking.

It is true that the majority of the country is Christian in some way, shape or form; that doesn't make this a Christian country. By saying that it is due to the fact that the majority is Christian is inviting mob rule. What if a state were to slowly build a population of Buddhists, would it then become the Buddhist State of Alabama? That wouldn't sit well with the powers that be now, would it?

The U.S. set itself up in the 50's as a Christian regime in much the same fashion as any other religious/political regime today. We are now dealing with the aftermath of that and we are cleaning up the mess left behind a piece at a time. To claim that it is a part of our heritage when most of this has been around for only 50 years is tripe.

Posted by at 02:40 PM
July 01, 2002
Two Little Words

The hub-bub over the past week has been over Two Little Words. "Oh, just ignore it, it's unimportant given the current war on terror," is something I've heard a lot in the blogosphere. "Let it go," people say.

"This is political correctness run amok," is another theme running wild across the country. All because of Two Little Words.

"under God"

Who knew two words could have so much power? I'll submit that even one of the words -- God -- is the true power of the phrase. But why? Why is this such a lightning rod for such heated arguments from people who normally are quiet and calm?

It's because so many of us have been inculcated to the point where even questioning the removal of the two words is seen as un-patriotic. I beg to differ, though -- questioning why the words are there to begin with is the patriotic path. Question authority. Do not accept as given what you are taught from a young age.

"under God"

The history of how these words were added to the Pledge has already been covered by others both here and elsewhere, so there's no need to go over that ground again. Instead, let's look a little closer at some of the uses of the word "God" in our national dialogue.

It's been brought up repeatedly that the Declaration of Independence uses the word. Yes, it does use it. It can even be said that the Constitution does, in the phrase, "In the year of Our Lord." Arguing the latter is pointless, given that the modern calendar in use at the time was built around the time of Christ. The modern usages of B.C.E. and C.E. (Before Current Era and Current Era) have gained much use in the past twenty or so years, many of them long before the cult of Political Correctness was born.

In the Declaration, one has to examine the men who wrote it. Many of the Founding Fathers were deists, and didn't subscribe to the more common Christian beliefs.

What about Presidential Inaugurations? "So help me God" ends each one. They're not written into them -- Washington added it at the end of his swearing in, and every President has copied it since. That's a personal statement made by the man, not a national policy.

I've seen the Gettysburg Address quoted heavily as well, particularly the line, "that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom." Context is of the utmost importance. Lincoln was first and foremost a deist as well, going so far as to write a manuscript that argued against the divinity of Christ and the divine inspiration of the Bible. His use of "God," "Divine Providence" and other phrases was consistent with his deistic leanings and the various religious views of his constituents. His usage of the phrases was during a time of great strife and was done as a balm for the people -- part of the war effort, such as it were.

The Constitution (with the one exception noted above) is a document expressly created to divide the powers of church from the powers of state. Again, that the very first line of the First Amendment contains this separation is intentional.

If the Founding Fathers deemed it important enough, shouldn't we?

That a court has seen fit to undo the political machinations of the Knights of Columbus some fifty years ago can only be a good thing. There are over fifty different religions practiced in the United States, of which only a few actually call the principle deity, "God." How is it fair to the Buddhists, the Sikhs, the Hindus, the pagans, the atheists, and yes, even the Muslims, to say, "one nation, under God?" I know you've all seen it, said it or read it -- how is it fair? This isn't political correctness -- this is understanding the realities of America, 2002. If we leave this in the Pledge, how can we say, "Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free," when the Pledge implicitly excludes those of other faiths?

Are we a nation with such hubris that we believe that "God" is on our side? Well, yes, but that's for another blog entry.

For the record, I don't buy into the concept of "god transcendant," or God Above. I prefer "god/dess immanent," or the deity is within me. This over/under thing is yet another of the traps of the Christian theology, which, again, is for another blog entry on another day.

Two little words. They weren't meant to be there to begin with, and the Pledge was without them for roughly sixty years. They were then in the Pledge for another fifty. Which, I ask you, is more historical then? Based on that poll at Vote.com, most folks don't know their history.

So for those of you who feel that belittlement and nastiness is the appropriate response to those who wish to have a measured discussion on this issue, pause a think on the real history of the words and of this country. Learn about the Founding Fathers and find out their true beliefs before making assumptions. Pick up a book about Lincoln, Paine, or Jefferson and get a feel for those who shaped this country.

Though I have to admit, "one nation, under Cernunnos" has a very nice ring to it . . .

Posted by at 10:13 PM
Minister who inspired Pledge change, says 'Too bad' to Atheists.

In response to those handful of emails I've gotten from folks who keep insisting that insertion of the words "under God" was not done to promote a particular religious viewpoint, I offer the following quotations from an interview with The Rev. George Docherty from the Washington Times:

The minister whose 1954 sermon at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church put "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance said yesterday its elimination would amount to "the god of big money defeating" monotheistic faith.

The Rev. George Docherty, 91, who now lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, said in an interview that society has become "so secular and materialistic" he is not surprised judges would be offended by an allusion to a deity.

"But to say that the word 'God' is unconstitutional is heretical," said the native of Scotland. "This was a nation built under God. Unfortunately, the god we worship today is money."
In 1942, Congress said that only it could change the wording.

Mr. Docherty said it violates history to deny that the United States was founded on the idea of God, just as the Soviet Union was founded on the idea of atheism.

"So for example, if an atheist wants to come to this country and be a citizen of the United States, he starts by saying the Pledge of Allegiance," Mr. Docherty said. "And if it says 'God,' that's too bad for him."

And people wonder why the issue gets me all riled up.

Posted by at 02:31 PM
Just Sittin' on the Fence...

I am the ultimate devil's advocate in the whole Pledge of Allegiance/Under God debate. I am at odds with myself over the issue, go figure.

- I disagree with changing it because I have used this pledge all of my life.

- I agree with it as it was put into the Pledge in 1952 as a small cog in the Cold War to show up "those godless Commies." It really is not a long-standing tradition and was put there to endorse a specific religion. This last bit IS unconstitutional.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

- I disagree with it because I was raised in the church and still believe in God, though not in the same manner as my parents.

- I agree because I don't think God cares what is in a pledge to a country. In the Bible, Jesus tells the disciples to give to God what is God's and give to the nation what is the nation's. That's paraphrased, of course. The Pledge belongs to the country. Everyone here should pledge allegiance to his or her nation. God's pledge should never be given as part of an empty ceremony. If someone says it in a pledge to a nation without believing it, God has no use for it in the first place.

- I disagree because I don't want God removed from this Pledge for purely selfish reasons. I mean it when I say it.

- I agree because I also don't agree with people thanking God for awards and sports wins. That insinuates that God was against the people who lost. If our nation is "Under God" what does that say about our opinion of other countries?

- I disagree because one person is using my tax money to remove two words from the Pledge of Allegiance. It just seems wasteful to me for a thing that seems so small.

- I agree because I have heard others on my many frequented web sites expressing a desire to not have it there.

- I disagree because I am worried about where it is going to lead. Our currency has "In God We Trust" printed on it. Our Declaration of Independence has God in its first section:

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."

How far are we willing to let it go?

- I agree because, as I stated before, these things were mostly inserted for political reasons in the 1950's. The obvious exception being the Declaration of Independence. I seriously doubt that anyone is attacking that document anytime soon.

So, I will just sit on this fence and enjoy playing tennis with myself using the special devil's advocate court that has been set up for me by Dwight Eisenhower, one man in California, a court of law, the combined might of the American media, and all of you out in weblog land.

Posted by at 09:41 AM