It’s good to see that a federal judge has ruled that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is unconstitutional, because it sure seems so to me. Since the pledge includes the words “under God,” how can anyone say that this isn’t a state-sponsored affirmation of religion?
Probably the conservative-stacked Supreme Court will end up saying just that, of course. I won’t care much when this happens, since I don’t have strong feelings about this issue. However, I’d just as soon have the words “under God” stricken from the pledge, thereby getting it back to its godless pre-1954 state.
Alternatively, how about adding a question mark after “under God”? Grammatically this would be a problem, but pledge-sayers could be taught to put the question mark in via a spoken inflection.
There have been four versions of the Pledge of Allegiance already. So why not five? This way the words “under God” could stay in the pledge, while encouraging some much-needed classroom discussion.
I mean, right after saying the pledge teachers could say, “Now, children, let’s talk about what “under God” means to you, and why we say it with a question mark in our voice.” I’d be happy to volunteer to help out with these discussions.
“Assuming God exists,” I’d say, “what are some other ways this nation could relate to God other than being ‘under’ him, her, or it?” We’d talk about how a nation, or a person, could be “with God,” “distinct from God,” “akin to God,” or “above God”—plus other spatial-relational possibilities.
We’d also discuss the possible meanings of “God:” Is this entity a person or a power? Is it objectively or subjectively real? Is God something separate from the laws of nature and physical reality? Is God the same thing as ultimate reality? How does the meaning we ascribe to the word “God” affect whether we perceive our nation as being under, next to, part of, or above God?
Once you add a question mark to “under God,” making it “under God?,” I don’t have much of a problem with leaving these words in the Pledge of Allegiance. The words aren’t a problem; the problem is religious dogmatism, believing that this nation somehow is under the control, domination, or special favor of a personal Christian sort of God.
The atheist plaintiff in this case, Michael Newdow said "Imagine every morning if the teachers had the children stand up, place their hands over their hearts, and say, 'We are one nation that denies God exists."'
Yes, imagine. Imagine the outrage. Yet indisputably there is much more evidence in favor of God’s nonexistence than of God’s existence. Everyone directly experiences the absence of God, while few people claim to have experienced God’s presence. And even they are unable to provide any definitive proof that God exists.
What gripes me the most about “under God” advocates is when they claim that the rights granted to citizens in the Constitution come from God, and that if “under God” is eliminated from the Pledge of Allegiance those rights will lack a firm foundation. That’s ridiculous.
Morality, ethics, and human rights emanate from human beings, not from God. Further, there’s absolutely no evidence that a belief in a personal Christian God leads to better morality, better ethics, or better human rights. Witness the Dark Ages and the Inquisition, when Christianity really was in control of society.
And witness Eastern cultures infused with Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucian belief systems. Are they less committed to morality, ethics, and human rights than Western cultures? There’s simply no relation between belief in a personal father-figure God and decent human behavior.
Except, perhaps, an inverse relation. The longer the words “under God” have been in the Pledge of Allegiance, the more godless our nation has become. I agree with Meister Eckhart that getting rid of the idea of “God” is necessary to truly be godly.
God, save us from “God.” It seems that God has heard this prayer, given the judge’s ruling concerning the Pledge of Allegiance.