3.12.2010

Religious Majority: 1, Constitution: 0

Have you heard? In a 2-1 decision, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled that the "under God" addition to the Pledge of Allegiance is not unconstitutional. What!?

Here's the article.

Judge Carlos Bea justified his decision stating:

"Without knowing the history behind these words, one might well think the phrase 'one Nation under God' could not be anything but religious. History, however, shows these words have an even broader meaning, one grounded in philosophy and politics and reflecting many events of historical significance.”

Um, yeah. I call BULLSHIT.

Louis A. Bowman (1872-1959) was the first to initiate the addition of "under God" to the Pledge. He spent his adult life in the Chicago area and was Chaplain of the Illinois Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. At a meeting on February 12, he led the Society in swearing the Pledge with two words added, "under God."

In 1951, the Knights of Columbus, the world's largest Catholic fraternal service organization, also began including the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.

In 1952, Holger Christian Langmack wrote a letter to President Truman suggesting the inclusion of "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. Mr. Langmack was a Danish philosopher and educator who came to America in 1911. He was one of the originators of the Prayer Breakfast and a religious leader in Washington, D.C. President Truman met with him along with several others to discuss the inclusion of "under God". At the suggestion of a correspondent, Representative Louis C. Rabaut of Michigan sponsored a resolution to add the words "under God" to the Pledge in 1953.

Huh. Seems like in all cases, "under God" was not founded on politics or philosophy, but religion. Well gee, imagine that!

The Pledge of Allegiance was originally composed in 1892 by Francis Bellamy. His original version was:

“I pledge allegiance to my flag and the republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”

Somewhere between 1892 and 1923, a "to" was added:

"I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all."


Then in 1924, the original pledge was changed up a bit more:

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States and to the republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all."


By 1954, it had been changed a little more:

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


And in 1954, "under God" was added:

"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.

So, why the fear of removing "under God"? Why not take the Pledge back to its original form and teach our kids the history of the Pledge?

According to the article cited above, the judges explained their decision saying,

the "under God" portion of the Pledge is not a violation of the Constitution, but a historical reflection of the Founding Fathers’ beliefs that “serves to unite our vast nation.”

Again, I call BULLSHIT.

Okay, first, our founding fathers were not religious-right Christians. No, really. They were Deists.

Secondly, while I agree that a Pledge of Allegiance serves (to some extent) to unite our vast nation, blatantly disregarding the Constitution by inserting "under God" only unites those who choose to believe in a god.

And do not get me started on the "In God We Trust" motto emblazoned on our currency...

14 comments:

Mars Girl said...

You are spot-on right. We Unitarian Universalists uses many of the works of the founding fathers in our traditions during our services because they are NOT religious. (Thomas Jefferson being a favorite. Was he a founding father?)

Anyway... I'm tired of the lack of separation between church of state... But I'm afraid this is a tide we're just never going to beat. There are more people who believe in God in some way in this country than don't and they superstitiously *fear* the removal of such phrasing from our lingo. I think after dating a Republican/Christian boyfriend (BIG MISTAKE) for over a year, I've come to realize that you just can't change people of this ilk no matter how much logic you try to represent to them.

So I guess I just chose to accept it and move on. I think there are bigger fish to fry, such as abortion rights, LGBT rights, health care, racial inclusion, feminist equality, etc. "Under God" to people like us is just words... and words can be as important or as meaningless as we chose them to be to ourselves. Let the little weenies have their words and when you say the pledge, omit them yourself. Just as long as I still have the right to omit them when respecting my country, then I can live with the words.

Btw, I had the same problem with the Girl Scout oath... I told my troop leader that I didnt believe in God and she told me that I shouldnt be in Girl Scouts. Ha!

cathryn said...

MG - Yeah, there are definitely bigger fish to fry, it just scares (and, okay, annoys) me that we have so little disregard for separation of church and state.

Speaking of bigger fish, Daniel and I were just talking about that unbelievable prom incident in MS, over lunch today. Did you catch that? Blows my mind.

Mars Girl said...

It doesnt surprise me because it's MS... But when I heard the report, I thought, "Geesh. Are we still having problems with stuff like this?"

But MS, being southern, is rather Bible-ish. I have determined that I could not live in any state south of Ohio, so I am in admiration of your patience for living in TN. Maybe it's because you live in a metropolitan area? Metro areas tend to have more educated people... and thus, more liberal people.

I'd also like to note that I have no desire to live in TX either. I prefer to sit in places with like-minded individuals. Dating the Republican was bad enough... stomachaches, headaches, and guilt that plagued my body for two years. I couldnt understand how a guy who was so outwardly nice could be so mean and discriminating to his fellow man by being against gay marriage... Especially someone who was supposed to be Christian. Those evangelicals contradict their own beliefs all the time. But somehow always end up being right. To themselves. Everyone else can see their contradictions...

HeyBetty!! said...

I never said the pledge after kinder garden, then I stopped crossing my heart in junior high, stopped standing in high school...it really seemed wrong to make me pledge my allegiance to anything at 7:30am.

Anonymous said...

How is it that not wanting to change something as benign as "under God" automatically makes someone a religious-right Christian? In fact, there are MANY Christians who are NOT right-wing and are, in fact, liberals. The phrase "under God" doesn't mean "under a Christian God" - it can mean any God you choose! Beyond all of the anti-God rehtoric, I think you said it best when you reported the MAJORITY won - FOR ONCE!!!! The MAJORITY of Americans belive in some form of God and are tired of having to bow constantly to the Minorities who want to restrict OUR beliefs and rights.

If things are so terrible here and you don't like our country, why don't you consider moving to a place that makes you feel more welcome with your personal beliefs?

cathryn said...

Anonymous - First of all, please post using your real name in the future. Maybe you forgot to type in your name or maybe you didn't want to take ownership for your comment, but either way "anonymous" comments automatically make me think the commenter doesn't want to take responsibility for their opinion. Hopefully that's not true in your case. :)

Second, if you're happy that "under God" remained in our Pledge of Allegiance, then booyah for you! Woo hoo! Victory for all those liberal Christians out there.

The fact that it remains rankles me because, as I stated in my post, it was never meant to contain any mention of a god and was only added at the insistence of religious leaders less than 60 years ago.

Plus there's that whole separation of church and state thing that I believe should be respected and upheld.

But, hey, clearly I'm in the minority, so I'll just suck it up. After all, what's more important, our constitution or keeping the "majority" happy and comfortable?

How you came to the conclusion that I don't like our country is beyond me. I believe in our constitution and the principles our country was founded on. You, on the other hand, seem to be happy in blowing off such things so you can feel your "personal beliefs" aren't being restricted.

Maybe you are the one who should consider moving. You know, to Iran or Saudi Arabia where you won't have to abide by that pesky separation of church and state thing.

Thanks for the comment! :)

Mars Girl said...

Anon sounds like my ex-boyfriend!!! (And he has read your blog!!) I wonder if he is lurking. He would never use his real name, either. Of course, he probably wouldnt have bothered to post at all. So I guess it's just another person like him. Tee-hee. Cuz my ex-bf would never admit to anyone Christian being a liberal. *oaf*

Mars Girl said...

Um... and whatever dear Anon says, we all know that the "under God" referred to here is the CHRISTIAN God. If it was NOT supposed to be specific, then why capitalize the world "God"? And why not use what we use in my church, which is "Love" instead of "God."? Or if you are not feeling UU, why not use "under gods"? or "under whatever god you may worship." or "under your god", if you dont want to be too windy?

Not all religions call their god "God." There's Allah and Yahweh. (And I cant think of the others at the moment.)

All you religious zealots like to say that "under God" is really referring to all other gods, but that's total and complete BUNK. It was put in the pledge by Christians trying to imply that we were a better nation than the atheist Communists. It was a way to try to separate us from "that country" who were our enemies. No one who put that in the pledge was intending to be open-minded and inclusive. Sorry, you're wrong.

And, Cathryn, for the record, I agree with you. I guess my complaint was that I get frustrated about people still arguing this issue when there's more important things to fight for, such as gay rights (my biggie) and a woman's right to her own body. It seems to me that the simple solution right now to the pledge is to just omit the "under God" part when I say the pledge personally. I would have a problem with anyone who told me that I was un-American for doing so, or who infringed on my right to remove "under God" when from my own speech when I'm saying a pledge. If someone tried to force me to say "under God" when I don't want to, that would be fighting words for me. And if anyone suggested I was un-American for doing so, then they'd have an even bigger battle on their hands.

I agree with you totally about people who comment on the blog using the Anonymous tag... I've bitched about this on my own blog. It's cowardice, plain and simple. It says "I want to disagree with you, but I dont want you to know who I am." LAME.

Jennifer said...

LOL..I haven't been reading for a few weeks - you certainly have a variety of readers my dear :-) I'm just going to keep quiet on this one!!!

cathryn said...

Jennifer - See? I KNOW you disagree with me on stuff like this! Fortunately you've always had the balls (figuratively of course) to offer opposition without being all secretive. You're not afrid to lay your viewpoint on me, even if it doesn't mesh with mine :) That's why I luv ya!

Mars Girl said...

You obviously have an unidentified lurker. I still say it sounds like my ex-bf. ;) Cuz my ex-bf would pull the "unAmerican card" every time a person said anything against God, country, white picket fences and apple pie--all the good wholesome things that make life "right." Ahhhh... Dontcha miss the 1950s when homosexuals has to repress themselves and live lives of deceit? ;)


(Okay, I'm off my soap box. I just hate Anon posters... even when it's not even on my own blog!)

Mars Girl said...

And, just for clarification, I'm not saying Anon IS my ex-bf... he/she just SOUNDS like my ex-bf... ;) Tee-hee. Thanks for the memories, Anon!

cathryn said...

MG - Seriously, how did you not constantly argue with ex-bf?!

Mars Girl said...

We were too exhausted from cycling and skiing to have deep discussions. It's when we were sitting down to drink wine on off-weekends where the hair-pulling and gun-slinging ensued. After one suchnight when we werent even together (but I'd been drinking), where we spent two hours sending angry texts which conscendoed into a screaming argument via telephone, I decided I could never date a Republican or an evangelical Christian again. And them's words to live by. ;) I will run screaming from the next boy who wants to date me who claims he's Republican or conservative Christian, even if he does like to ride bikes, ski, and/or drink red wine. ;)

(If you've seen some of my recent blog entries, you'll note our relationship made me slightly unstable for awhile there.)