June 26, 2002
12:48 PM   Subscribe

"One nation, under God, indivisible..."
posted by Reggie452 (142 comments total)

 
Citizens of San Francisco: Send all your "tainted" money to me.
posted by ColdChef at 12:50 PM on June 26, 2002


'bout time! Just return it to the way it was pre-1954, and there won't be a problem. Next..."In God we Trust" on money.
posted by quirked at 12:54 PM on June 26, 2002


I repeat: Citizens of San Francisco: Send all your "tainted" money to me.
posted by ColdChef at 12:55 PM on June 26, 2002


Good. Bob Barr was just on CNN saying how he believes students should be required to say the Pledge, and explained how it wasn't forcing them to do anything, but teaching them to be good citizens.

I look forward to hearing further comedy material along those lines.
posted by MegoSteve at 1:01 PM on June 26, 2002


My faith is important to me, but I am typically pretty quiet about it (well, except for now), and I can't stand having it forced upon me.

When I was a kid, reciting the Pledge, I didn't feel "Under God" belonged. I still don't. So I think this decision is an appropriate one.

The government of the United States should be as neutral as possible in as many areas regarding religion as possible. Will it ever be a hundred percent? I doubt it. But hand-in-hand with the freedom of religion is freedom from it. It's not the place for a government.

When I first heard about it, I had first thought it would be overtuned quickly on appeal - on more reflection, I'm not so sure it will.

And now, I'm going to Google around and find out why the words were added in 1954, because I either don't know or can't remember why.
posted by ebarker at 1:01 PM on June 26, 2002


Mountains out of molehills. Sure to be lauded by the left as an important protection of the church/state division. Sure to be lamented by the right as a weakening of our country's values. When actually it's neither. It's two words that are no more than said. Nobody's forced to mean it when they say it, or even to say it at all.

Is there any atheist or agnostic in this country -- of which I am one -- who truly feels those two words are threatening to their belief system? Oh, well. Let the flaming begin.
posted by pardonyou? at 1:02 PM on June 26, 2002


Heh. The folks at free republic are having conniptions.
posted by Gilbert at 1:03 PM on June 26, 2002


Call the judges' decision the Fox News Ratings Bonanza and Rush Limbaugh Ranting Material Act of 2002.
posted by Holden at 1:04 PM on June 26, 2002


Jesus Christ. The minority always wins.
posted by Modem Ovary at 1:05 PM on June 26, 2002


Next up on the Court's agenda: a thorough going-over of "God Bless America" for racist/sexist/speciesist overtones and general monotheistic and patriarchal indoctrinatory memes. Oh, and a couple of refreshing sodies.
posted by UncleFes at 1:07 PM on June 26, 2002


Furthermore, if I'm going to bitch about something, it's not going to be a few words in the Pledge, it's going to be crime rates, social security or car insurance in NJ. Ack, I can't stand politics.
posted by Modem Ovary at 1:11 PM on June 26, 2002


Yay! This really makes my day. Next target: "In God We Trust" on the U.S. currency. (Like "under God," "In God We Trust" was was a relatively recent addition.) Who knows... Maybe in a few years I won't have to cross those pesky words off all my bills all the time.
posted by mrbula at 1:11 PM on June 26, 2002


Yes. Whooo hoooo.

"The minority always wins"

Since when is christianity in the majority?
Just because most people believe something doesn't make it the truth.
posted by jeblis at 1:12 PM on June 26, 2002


Pardonyou, ^5. It's a banal argument, which is why it burns me!
posted by Modem Ovary at 1:12 PM on June 26, 2002


Modem: "Jesus Christ. The minority always wins."

Well, really its everyone who digs the whole freedom of religon thing. After all, if the pledge read "Under Mohammed" I'm betting you might have a bit of a problem with it.
posted by bshort at 1:16 PM on June 26, 2002


I love things that piss off Bob Barr and Freepers.

pardonyou?, I doubt many people feel that "under God" threatens them, but it's a slap in the face to people who think that a country that claims to separate church and state ought to be walking the walk, not just talking the talk.

I don't know if the money's realistically next (although, hey, they're already redesigning it, so guys, while you're at it...?). But it would make me smile very big if the next walk-the-walk was centered on the blue laws that make it illegal in many places to purchase alcohol on Sundays. It's not that I indulge much anyway, but as a matter of principle, it chafes my ass that someone else's imaginary friend in the sky can dictate my hypothetical drinking schedule.
posted by Sapphireblue at 1:16 PM on June 26, 2002


By the way, kudos to Reggie452 for clever, appropriate phrasing of the front page post. Just what the "strike" tag was made for.
posted by pardonyou? at 1:16 PM on June 26, 2002


ebarker
That's what Ike said:
"In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of reigious faith in America's heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country's most powerful resource, in peace and war".
God is with us, basically.

a nation `under Jesus,' a nation `under Vishnu,' a nation `under Zeus,' or a nation `under no god,'
I love this guy

Anyway, this is from David Herbert Donald, Lincoln's great biographer (and Harvard professor):

In Lincoln's day a President's religion was a very private affair. There were no public prayer meetings, no attempts to woo the Religious Right. Few of Lincoln's countrymen knew anything at all of his religious beliefs.
It is certainly true that Lincoln repeatedly invoked the blessings of God on the Union cause. It is also true that he wrote leaders of some of the major churches--Bishop Hughes of the Catholic Church, Bishop Simpson of the Methodist Church, for example--but he solicited not their religious views but their advice about particular problems--e.g., what to do with the Sioux Indians captured after a massacre.
In short, Lincoln lived in a fortunate day when the President's religious beliefs (like his sexual practices) were off limits for reporters.

posted by matteo at 1:17 PM on June 26, 2002


This isn't a big deal. It's a minor, accurate adjustment, to wit: We are not a nation under God. Although it lends itself easily to fallacious mockery (see above), this ruling has nothing to do with anything else. The Pledge is an inaccurate, mandated activity that has no place in an allegedly proudly diverse country.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 1:17 PM on June 26, 2002


Is there any atheist or agnostic in this country -- of which I am one -- who truly feels those two words are threatening to their belief system?

No, but having children recite the pledge of allegiance with "under god" attached to it was a long-standing example of hypocrisy. If we are to be a "free" country, we shouldn't be forcing kids to a) dictate their daily allegiance and b) saying the country is under some god when there is supposed to be a separation of church and state and freedom of (and from) religion is one of the founding virtues of this country.
posted by mathowie at 1:18 PM on June 26, 2002


Is there any atheist or agnostic in this country -- of which I am one -- who truly feels those two words are threatening to their belief system?

Whether or not you buy into it when you do or don't say it, their presence speaks volumes. A belief system is for large part socially constructed, whether we like to admit it or not. Just the fact that they are there allows the US to feign a moral imperative, acknowledge a monotheistic culture, and create a culture of separation (if we are Under God, who are our enemies under?)

When we start ignoring the little things that may not mean much to us, but definitely send a message, we start ignoring bigger and bigger things.
posted by adampsyche at 1:18 PM on June 26, 2002


Oh, this is just fantastic.

I agree that the phrase "under God" doesn't belong as part of a state-mandated pledge, and so in a narrow sense I agree with the ruling.

But dammit, now the 2002 congressional elections are going to be full of ridiculous grandstanding about "putting God back in the pledge" and so on. The crucial issues we face about civil liberties versus national security, about privacy versus free enterprise, about human rights versus realpolitik - all of them are going to be shunted down a notch. Or two.
posted by Chanther at 1:18 PM on June 26, 2002


It's about forking time!

Freedom of religion, and freedom from religion (should you desire it).
posted by Dark Messiah at 1:18 PM on June 26, 2002


Yeah, I feel kinda strange because as a Christian I would consider myself deeply dedicated to my faith and I don't find a thing wrong at all with removing "under God" from the pledge. I always have felt just plain weirded out saying something that is both religious and political. They definitely don't belong together.
posted by prototype_octavius at 1:18 PM on June 26, 2002


Ok, now that I've relaxed a little - "One nation, indivisible" or "One nation, under God, indivisible" is fine either way. I'm not big on religion or lack thereof.
posted by Modem Ovary at 1:20 PM on June 26, 2002


it chafes my ass that someone else's imaginary friend in the sky can dictate my hypothetical drinking schedule.


This made me wet my pants.
posted by ColdChef at 1:20 PM on June 26, 2002


Next up on the Court's agenda: a thorough going-over of "God Bless America" for racist/sexist/speciesist overtones and general monotheistic and patriarchal indoctrinatory memes.

Last time I checked, school kids weren't required every morning TO STAND UP AND SING THAT SONG. There's no slippery slope here (that goes for "In God We Trust" on money as well- no one makes you recite it aloud when you buy something with it).

Take that, Ashcroft.
posted by mkultra at 1:22 PM on June 26, 2002


I find the whole idea of reciting a Pledge of Allegiance absolutely hilarious. Don't Americans ever reflect on how ludicrous it is?
posted by salmacis at 1:25 PM on June 26, 2002


Here's the "Establishment Clause", better known as the first line of the first constitutional amendment:

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.


Does the use of the phrase "one nation under God" or indeed the older "In God we trust" really constitute the formulation of a law respecting any religious establishment? Does the use of this phrase "prohibit the free exercise" of any religion. I think the key question is the difference between what constitutes "religion" and what constitutes "God", which is an almost universal theological (and even non theological) abstraction. The word "God" does not appear in either the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. It appears only once in the Declaration of Independence:

the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them

In this context, the word "God" does not even necessarily have "divine" connotations; instead it is more in line with the Enlightenment use of the term to connote "that which is unknown", in this case, the organizing and controlling principle, divine or otherwise, behind the operation of Nature.

The 1st Amendment refers to "religions" and "religious establishments" not the usage and etymology of a particular word that happens to have strong cultural connections with a particular religion. The word "God" in English may have it's roots in this word.

This is not an issue of religion, it's an issue of a linguistic agenda to remove a word from (unenforced) use by school children. If there is an issue, it should be with the whole idea of children being prompted to take a daily oath (something with shaky constitutional foundations as it is), not with the removal of a useful word. Perhaps teaching the children the looseness of language and meaning, and the different historical uses and connotations of the word "God" would be a more intelligent approach, rather than excising it.
posted by evanizer at 1:26 PM on June 26, 2002


Remember this issue was about forcing kids to say the pledge.

If we are to be a "free" country, we shouldn't be forcing kids to a) dictate their daily allegiance and b) saying the country is under some god when there is supposed to be a separation of church and state and freedom of (and from) religion is one of the founding virtues of this country.

I agree. If we are to be a "free" country, we shouldn't be forcing kids to a) attend public schools, which will always teach some kind of orthodoxy, be it christian, athiest, or otherwise.
posted by insomnyuk at 1:26 PM on June 26, 2002


Sapphireblue, I don't know. I just don't see why it should be viewed as a "slap in the face." Everyone knows it's empty symbolism. Everyone knows it has been part of the pledge for 50 years without a single, actual, meaningful restriction on anyone's right to believe whatever the hell they want. Everyone knows that the Supreme Court has said you can't be compelled to say it. But look at all the passion its incited on this board. One blogger has already called it "Quite possibly the best news I've heard in ages." We'll be hearing about it for days on TV, the radio, and in the papers. My point is about perspective. Mountains out of molehills. Like Modem says, aren't there real problems we should be focused on?
posted by pardonyou? at 1:26 PM on June 26, 2002


Thank goodness. "Under God" should have NEVER been added in the first place. Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance everyday was the most wasteful 30 seconds of my life in school. :)
posted by LinemanBear at 1:28 PM on June 26, 2002


I'm a Christian. And I'm quite religious. My faith means a lot to me. But. On the other hand. Government should be secular. I have my own ideas. Don't impose yours on me. I'm willing to listen, but not to be forced. The Pledge happens be in line with my viewpoints. But what if it were not? Would I want my children forced to recite religious dogma that I disagreed with? Of course not. And that's what it comes down to. It's got nothing to do with linguistics, evanizer, and everything to do with belief.

I hate to see God removed from all aspects of society. It irks me that most of my friends think that Christianity is irreconcilable with any sort of intellectual life.

But this was a good decision. This was the right move.
posted by emptyage at 1:29 PM on June 26, 2002


I've never liked the pledge; the "under God" clause is just one problem. My first objection is merely etymological: "allegiance" is from "liege": it originally signified the obligations of a peasant to a feudal lord. To the extent that this shade of meaning persists, allegiance is an inappropriate thing for an American citizen to pledge his/her country. That's minor, though, compared to the idea of pledging allegiance to the flag. The flag represents the current political and military leaders of the country, and Americans should owe no allegiance to their leaders (it should be the other way around). I suppose the question of "what the flag represents" is an arguable one, but this controversy alone should be sufficient to prevent us from having children recite a pledge of allegiance to said flag. Especially when there's a much clearer, uncontroversial option. If an Americans want to take a pledge, they should take a pledge to abide by, protect, and defend the constitution. It works for oaths of office, it can work for a daily schoolchild pledge.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:31 PM on June 26, 2002


Is there any atheist or agnostic in this country -- of which I am one -- who truly feels those two words are threatening to their belief system?

No but that misses the point doesn't it.

I've been using the strike tag every time I've repeated the pledge for the past 48 years. This is great news.
posted by onegoodmove at 1:32 PM on June 26, 2002


I'm with Saphhireblue on the Sunday laws thing. In Kansas City, we always ended up driving into Missouri to buy alcohol on Sundays. And my favorite bar in Lawrence was a block away from the ECM building, which legally counted as a church and therefore by its proximity prevented the bar from serving anything but 3.2 beer. If anything, these laws only made people more resentful towards religion.

The wording of the pledge may not seem like a big deal in the greater scheme of things, but it is something that I was compelled to say as a child, ever single day for years, before I did anything else at school, suggesting to my impressionable young mind that the words in it are serious and meant to be taken literally.

The word "God," other than it's capitalization, is not really more of a Christian thing than its evoking any other theist/deist religion. Judaism revolves (or is supposed to revolve) around God, and so for that matter does Islam, Muhammed was a prophet, so the comparison would only apply if we were calling the US one nation under Jesus, or even Moses or Ezekiel.

I don't know what would have happened if I had refused to participate in the pledge as a first-grader. It wasn't an issue; to kids that age it's just something that you are required to do in the morning along with hanging your coat in the closet and keeping your backpack out of the aisle. To say it's optional, I think, is more or less like saying that students are not legally compelled to do their homework or raise their hands when they have the right answer; it's part of the system, it's part of an indoctination towards patriotism, and if it isn't important enough for its content to make a difference, then it shouldn't take up a minute of every day of students' lives, standing up, facing the flag, hand on the heart.
posted by bingo at 1:33 PM on June 26, 2002


If it's empty, pardonyou?, if it means nothing, if "everyone knows" that, why is it a big deal to remove it? why indeed is it there at all? The fact that there's going to be a *huge* right-wing uproar over this seems to me to prove that those two words are pretty damned important and meaningful to a bunch of people.

And, this isn't directed specifically at you, but the whole "isn't there something better we can worry about" attitude always irritates me. Humans are multi-tasking machines, fully capable of processing the weighty and the fluffy all at once. (Next time my boss asks me to implement a new feature in the CMS I maintain, I'm gonna say to him: "One-armed doe-eyed orphans are homeless and starving in Afghanistan and YOU WANT ME TO IMPLEMENT QUOTED PHRASE SEARCHING?!")
posted by Sapphireblue at 1:35 PM on June 26, 2002


Another "non-issue" handled by our government.

I agree that religion shouldn't be foisted on our youth, but really — don't we have more pressing concerns right now?
posted by Down10 at 1:35 PM on June 26, 2002


When I was in the 4th grade (1973-74), our teacher not only made us say the pledge, but also grace before going to lunch, and if I remember correctly the Lord's Prayer as well. And there were Bible readings -- we got through Genesis and a big chunk of Exodus. This was a public school in the suburbs of a state capital. Being only 9 at the time, I did not realize until years later how illegal it all was (well, not the pledge part, but the rest). Anybody else have public school teachers who decided "To heck with the concept of separation of church and state"?
posted by JanetLand at 1:37 PM on June 26, 2002


"Government should be secular."

That's where we disagree. I think government should not be anything. Government is not a person, it does not have a belief system, and the state should not say either way whether God exists or not. That's not really being secular, its just refusing to answer the question. Neutrality.

That way, "society", or better yet, individuals are free to choose either way. Instead, we force children to attend schools, who force them to restate the Pledge of Allegiance. Don't let their parents teach them! The Pledge of Allegiance is good enough, the government tells me so.

Whenever I say the Pledge of Allegiance, I don't say the part where it says "indivisible".
posted by insomnyuk at 1:38 PM on June 26, 2002


Don't Americans ever reflect on how ludicrous it is?
Salmacis, this thread answers that question.
I got so fucking sick and tired of having to recite the Pledge of Allegiance when I was in school, and the illegal Lord's Prayer that some teachers made us recite every morning, and the coercive goddam prayer circles the drama coach would hastily organize before we took the stage at the school play.
That's how we live in the land of the free.
posted by Holden at 1:38 PM on June 26, 2002


Everyone knows it's empty symbolism.

Well then, you won't miss it, and I needn't have spent two weeks in detention for refusing to say it on the ground that I'm an athiest and the inclusion of those words establishes a religious belief in the pledge.

Besides, are you saying that empty symbolism is something to encourage? When I say the Pledge of Allegiance, *without* those two words, I fucking mean it.
posted by mimi at 1:38 PM on June 26, 2002


In my high school, the pledge is recited daily over the intercom directly preceding morning announcments. Recently, the student reading it intentionallly left out "under God." Most kids listening didn't notice.

Apparently the student was given a stern warning. The next morning, the pledge was read as written.

Personally, I abstained from reciting the pledge with my classmates for the last 7 years of my public education. Why? Not because I was offended by it, but because it is meaningless to me to do so. Students repeat the words without thinking about them, which completely waters down the message behind the pledge. Unless I'm going to say those words with some sort of conviction each time, I don't see the point in doing it. But that's another story.
posted by katieinshoes at 1:42 PM on June 26, 2002


This is not an issue of religion, it's an issue of a linguistic agenda to remove a word from (unenforced) use by school children.

As noted in this article, half the states require the pledge to be recited during the school day, and many more have or are adding it since Sept. 11. In Illinois, there's a bill that I believe just passed requiring high school students to recite it as well, although it's not mandatory at that level.

I agree that the the whole concept of being required to recite the Pledge is on shaky constitutional grounds, but taking out reference to god(s) at least removes the church/state issue.
posted by me3dia at 1:43 PM on June 26, 2002


onegoodmove: "No but that misses the point doesn't it."

No, not my point. Hits it squarely, in fact. I guess I'm surprised by all of the posters who claim to have felt so oppressed and imposed upon by having to say the pledge. To me they were just words, and I was reciting them still in my usual morning fog. I imbued them with about as much importance as the words to "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" I was "forced" to sing in music class.

Don't get me wrong, I'll be the first to object if the government does something meaningful to restrict my freedom of speech or religion. But two symbolic words said aloud at the same time as 30 other kids? And which the courts have already held you don't have to say? No big deal.
posted by pardonyou? at 1:44 PM on June 26, 2002


The word "God," other than it's capitalization, is not really more of a Christian thing than its evoking any other theist/deist religion.

Um, that's still invoking religion...
posted by mimi at 1:46 PM on June 26, 2002


Sapphireblue: "if it means nothing, if "everyone knows" that, why is it a big deal to remove it?

mimi: "Well then, you won't miss it..."

Sapphireblue, it's not a big deal. In fact, that is my entire point. Mimi, no I won't miss it. My entire argument -- shared by almost nobody, apparently -- is that this is the kind of crap that doesn't deserve the attention and weight it's going to be given. This decision is not going to materially affect one person's life. But yet it's all anyone's going to talk about for days.

And it's not a question of multitasking, Sapphireblue, it's a question of skewed notions of importance.
posted by pardonyou? at 1:48 PM on June 26, 2002


Interestingly enough, the court didn't just say that students couldn't be compelled to say the pledge -- it held that no student could recite the pledge as written. From the CNN article:

Although no child is forced to say the pledge, the judges said any child whose personal or religious beliefs prevented him from reciting the pledge was left with the "unacceptable choice between participating and protesting."

I think that's a little extreme.
posted by coelecanth at 1:49 PM on June 26, 2002


While we're at it, can we also change 'indivisible' to the more commonly-spoken 'invisible'?
posted by Dirjy at 1:50 PM on June 26, 2002


You're right, pardonyou. The right-wingers should just let this go and focus on what's really important, like protecting ourselves against terrorism, trying to achieve peace in the Middle East, improving public schools and the like. They lost the court battle on an unimportant issue and shouldn't succumb to skewed notions of importance. I'm glad we agree.
posted by Holden at 1:52 PM on June 26, 2002


As ColdChef implies, doesn't this also make US currency constitutionally invalid?
posted by HTuttle at 1:53 PM on June 26, 2002


Instead of focusing on whether it should be taken out, can anyone give a sound reason as to why it should be there in the first place?
posted by adampsyche at 1:56 PM on June 26, 2002


Interestingly enough, the court didn't just say that students couldn't be compelled to say the pledge -- it held that no student could recite the pledge as written. From the CNN article:

Not exactly. It means that the school cannot require that the pledge be read in that form, whether or not the students are actually required to join in. In other words, not only can students not be required to say the pledge with the offending phrase, the school is not allowed to present the pledge in that form. However, if the school presents the pledge in excised form, and some students voluntarily choose, on their own, to add the offending phrase back into the pledge, no violation has occured.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:57 PM on June 26, 2002


In the interest of brutal honesty, I'd suggest we change all U.S. currency to say, "In Gold We Trust."
posted by MegoSteve at 1:58 PM on June 26, 2002


Actually, Holden, we do agree. I'm not sure if I can see through the dripping sarcasm in your post, but you seem to be under the mistaken impression that I'm a right-winger. In fact, I totally agree that right-wingers shouldn't succumb to skewed notions of importance. But, by the same token, neither should the left-wingers, including the dozens in this thread who view this as the most momentous decision since Roe v. Wade.
posted by pardonyou? at 1:58 PM on June 26, 2002


As ColdChef implies, doesn't this also make US currency constitutionally invalid?

Not necessarily. The Court has always made a distinction between prayer in schools, where children, particularly elementary school children are exposed, and prayer in other contexts. Legislative prayer has been upheld, albeit over a vigorous dissent, as being in conformance with our history and tradition. Likewise with money.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:59 PM on June 26, 2002


In the interest of brutal honesty, I'd suggest we change all U.S. currency to say, "In Gold We Trust."

Except we're no longer on the gold standard.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 2:00 PM on June 26, 2002


I knew someone would bring that up... I was speaking metaphorically about greed. Sorry.
posted by MegoSteve at 2:03 PM on June 26, 2002


I think our money should say "In God We Trust--All Others Pay Cash!" I love them signs.
posted by ColdChef at 2:03 PM on June 26, 2002


As ColdChef implies, doesn't this also make US currency constitutionally invalid?

Or could the phrase "So Help Me God" be deemed unconstitutional? (I kinda doubt it, but where do we stop?)
posted by emptyage at 2:03 PM on June 26, 2002


I pledge my Weejuns.
Tootie Flag.
Of the United States of America.
And to the Republic of Richard Sands.
One nation under Zod.
Blinvisible.
With gibberish and mustard
For all.
posted by Tin Man at 2:03 PM on June 26, 2002


I agree that religion shouldn't be foisted on our youth, but really — don't we have more pressing concerns right now?

Yes, lets suspend the legal system because of these trying times! pfft


So is SCOTUS going to shoot this down or what? I would be surprised if it stood. I think we should just change it to "Under Allah" so the right can appreciate the finer points of freedom of religion and freedom from religion.
posted by skallas at 2:07 PM on June 26, 2002


What mr_roboto said. It's the pledging allegiance to a flag that always creeped me out. I mean, swearing to uphold the constitution..you bet, swearing to defend our country from invaders, sure...ok, but pledging allegiance to a swatch of fabric...um, no. (What's really odd, is that in my suburban white picket fence hell, all of the neighbors have had flags up since September...and only the 2 military guys have done it right. As much as I don't like the "pledge", I hate to see the stars and stripes flown incorrectly, or dragging the ground, or dirty, torn and tattered. )

Now, onto blue laws. :) I'm in Texas, no hard liquor sales here ever after 9pm on most days and never on Sunday...but I think you can still buy beer on Sundays. But the blue laws go way beyond that...there are huge swathes of towns where you can't buy ANYTHING alcoholic...no beer, no wine, no booze...nada.

I live in one of them. I'm serious when I say it's a 35 minute drive to buy martini fixings. Back when I could drink, I would just have people pick stuff up for me on their way out to the lake. :) (Pregnant now...can't drink...I miss a martini before dinner and red wine with steaks...yes I do.)
posted by dejah420 at 2:07 PM on June 26, 2002


coelecanth:

Interestingly enough, the court didn't just say that students couldn't be compelled to say the pledge -- it held that no student could recite the pledge as written. I think that's a little extreme.

Maybe you should read the Bill of Rights. It's quite clear.
posted by mark13 at 2:11 PM on June 26, 2002


Or could the phrase "So Help Me God" be deemed unconstitutional? (I kinda doubt it, but where do we stop?)

It is. It's the same thing. Government should not endorse religion of any kind. But I've heard you're allowed to request a non-religious version when taking oath. Anyone?
posted by Succa at 2:11 PM on June 26, 2002


pardonyou?, I think Holden was making reference to those people who are going to wail and gnash their teeth and say things like "First they took prayer out of the public schools and now this?", not saying you are one.

Your notion that it doesn't matter a whole lot is fine by me but the way the Bob Barrs of the world are going to look at this ruling is the reason it's important to me, the reason I'll be happy to see those two words terminated with extreme prejudice. To you and to others, they're just empty words. To the religious right, they're God's last stand in America's public schools. So long as a political debate framed in those terms exists, I feel I've got a moral obligation of my very own, to stand up on the other side of it.

Sure, it's just politics, but you can either play the game, or ignore the game til it stampedes your fence-sittin' ass. At least that's how I see it.

dejah: I lived in a dry county once myself. Middle of nowhere. The liquor store on the county line was *also* in the middle of nowhere, but wow, they did a booming business :)
posted by Sapphireblue at 2:12 PM on June 26, 2002


Anybody else have public school teachers who decided "To heck with the concept of separation of church and state"?

I substitute teach in public schools where teachers bring their religion into the curriculum every day. I also see students who do not know their rights about saying/not saying the Pledge. I have had students tattle on their friends for not saying the Pledge. This is an important ruling.
posted by neuroshred at 2:13 PM on June 26, 2002


Count me among those who think "under God" does not belong in the pledge. I can remember dropping that phrase out of the pledge when I was seven years old.
posted by Dick Paris at 2:15 PM on June 26, 2002


Pardonyou, I meant no sarcasm. Sincerely.
posted by Holden at 2:16 PM on June 26, 2002


Succa: mrmorgan said in this thread from last year (the subject of which we'll never again know, since the original post is pure editorializing and the link has gone 404, but seems to have been closely related to this thread) that he, an atheist, once was sworn in in court "under penalty of perjury."
posted by Sapphireblue at 2:16 PM on June 26, 2002


Uh-oh, given the hoopla, I don't like "...One Nation..."'s days, either!
posted by herc at 2:17 PM on June 26, 2002


I have not read the decision. However, I generally agree that requiring children to pledge allegiance to our nation, with or without references to God, is a real violation of their First Amendment rights.

What troubles me is that, at least according to the Yahoo account, the nutty Ninth has banned the Pledge from public schools altogether - no voluntary recitation, with or without mention of God. That strikes me as equally restricting those children's freedom of speech and worship.

I predict that there will be numerous attempts in the next several years to amend the Constitution to permit the recital of the Pledge in public schools.

Ultimately, the constitutional requirement that public schooling remain devoid of any value system whatsoever is the strongest argument in favor of parental school choice.
posted by mikewas at 2:18 PM on June 26, 2002


Succa: Sorry I missed this the first time, but yes, any instance where government requires an oath the oath-taker may choose to "swear" or "affirm."

"Affirmation" is presumably the non-religious option, rather than the Stuart Smalley option.
posted by mikewas at 2:21 PM on June 26, 2002


Many years ago I found out that the phrase had been added in 1954. I never asked in detail how it got in there—it seemed obvious enough, since the phrase reeks of 1954. So I'd love for it to disappear. But it will be a bad thing indeed if this ruling gets upheld by the Supreme Court. Why? Because a constitutional amendment protecting "under God" would be a certainty. Look at how close we've come to an amendment banning flag burning, for pete's sake! Even though the pregnant date "1954" will be repeated in every article on this subject, people will retain their feelings about the venerable tradition of the pledge and how necessary it is to the nation's life—looky there, brainwashing the young does work...

The flag represents the current political and military leaders of the country

Is this supposed to be some kind of historical claim? Because most Americans feel that the flag represents their nation tout simple, quite above any current conditions.
posted by Zurishaddai at 2:22 PM on June 26, 2002


I went to a private school that had a mandatory, non-denominational chapel service (where "non-denominational" means "Christian" without saying so). The Jewish kids got a seperate daily service in a different part of the school. Kids of all other religious (or non-religious) persuasions were crammed into the same chapel service. We weren't required to say the Lord's Prayer, or sing the shamelessly Christian school hymn, but most people did anyway for fear of reprimand or social exclusion. I never participated in the prayfest and I never got in trouble, but they never let anyone opt out of going to the service itself. Their fear was that if they made the service optional, nobody would attend.

Anyway, I think this issue is as big as it's being made out to be. It might not be as scary or immediately threatening as terrorism or suspicious packages or whatever, but it's still discriminatory and unconstitutional, and needed to be addressed.
posted by Succa at 2:23 PM on June 26, 2002


my personal favorite:
I pledge allegience, to Queen Fragg, and her mighty state of hysteria...Ow, Leggo!
- Calvin
posted by sixtwenty3dc at 2:27 PM on June 26, 2002


overheard: "The phrase "separation of church and state" appears nowhere in the constitution. The Constitution simply states the government shall not establish and specific organized religion. (thus the reason its called the Establishment clause). The framers never stated or indicated in any way that the government must be kept completely independent of religion. Hell, they even held a prayer the day the wrote the blessed thing!."

I tend to think that saying the pledge doesn't really establish a specific religion. I'm under the impression that raising this issue is more harmful than good. Its along the lines of "if it ain't broke don't fix it". That might sound lame to say, but its the way I feel. There are countries all over the world who are up in arms (literally) because of an official religion. We don't have that, this is obvious. "In God we Trust" hardly establishes a religion.

Bitching and fighting about this makes us look as silly as Northern Ireland and Pakistan. (no offense)
posted by tomplus2 at 2:28 PM on June 26, 2002


Just because most people believe something doesn't make it the truth...I already read that one on the evolution thread, or was it the abortion thread, or was it the Presidential Election thread? We've all seen how many tinhorn dictators have misused religion to maintain crushing power over the populace (Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, etc) so I guess it's best to err on the side of caution. Out, damn spot!
posted by Mack Twain at 2:29 PM on June 26, 2002


Down10 - don't we have more pressing concerns right now?

What, the basic rights of all citizens to not be harassed by a religion isn't important enough. And this is the judicial system, this is what they do - review the laws of the land.

Pretty important stuff, huh?

On preview - I'm with Skallas
posted by plemeljr at 2:31 PM on June 26, 2002


pardonyou?: Everyone knows it's empty symbolism.

Yeah, well, I think we could all use a little less empty symbolism. There are meaningful symbols out there which are cheapened by every borrowing of their power.
posted by hob at 2:32 PM on June 26, 2002


This is a fine line, agreed. How long have we been saying the pledge. My grandmother, in her 80's who is very patriotic, had no clue about this being done in school when I was a kid.
How many of our Presidents, said the pledge?
There is no Pledge of Allegiance in a democracy, with church and state separated. No ones walking on my religion, as I have a faith.
I will take your money, if that insults your pockets.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:32 PM on June 26, 2002


"In God we Trust" hardly establishes a religion.

What about to someone who doesn't believe in God?
posted by Succa at 2:34 PM on June 26, 2002


The bus driver at my public grade school in the early 70s had us all sing "Jesus Loves Me" every afternoon on the bus. At the time, we thought, whee, cool, a new song, but looking back...what the fuh?
posted by GaelFC at 2:35 PM on June 26, 2002


Succa: From The Straight Dope: How do courts swear in atheists?. (Answer: You do affirm that all the testimony you are about to give in the case now before the court will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; this you do affirm under the pains and penalties of perjury?)

As to the cries of "don't we have more important things to worry about?!": What, a Federal judge is supposed to stop ruling on cases and just wait out the Middle-East pissing match so as not to give us something else to think about?
posted by Shadowkeeper at 2:35 PM on June 26, 2002


"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education"

- Mark Twain

pardonyou? I agree completely; this story didn't warrant the excessive press coverage it received.

Gottah love the Mark Twain quote, I've been saying it all my life!
posted by ( .)(. ) at 2:39 PM on June 26, 2002


tomplus2, when you say:

The phrase "separation of church and state" appears nowhere in the constitution. The Constitution simply states the government shall not establish and specific organized religion...I tend to think that saying the pledge doesn't really establish a specific religion.

You seem to think that the establishment clause contains the word "specific", which it does not. Hence, the pledge need not establish "a specific religion" to violate the First Amendment. The words "under God" are sufficiently offensive.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:42 PM on June 26, 2002


I gotta say, though, that even those some are bemoaning this non-issue taking attention from other issues, there's a nearly pornographic aspect poping into places New Republic's BBS space to read about how Clinton is to blame (note: the two agreeing judges were appointed by Nixon and Carter), "modest" proposals to allow states to declare state religions, and discordant parody attempts. I'm not proud that I find it so appealing to watch (like admitting to a Jerry Springer addiction) but still strangely fascinating.

Any good points to similar "liberals acting badly" boards? I bet I'd be just as engrossed in a rant saying it was the best thing since Roe v. Wade.
posted by bclark at 2:44 PM on June 26, 2002


Side note, our MONEY, unless you want to discuss for gold & silver standard. Then lets take it to the supreme court.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:45 PM on June 26, 2002


Succa (& others): I was actually referring to the President's Oath of Office, which ends informally, with "So Help Me God."

see link

But like I said, I doubt it. Since it's a voluntary statement, I'm not sure that one could be prohibited from affirming.
posted by emptyage at 2:45 PM on June 26, 2002


The backlash begins ...

Nice move there connecting it to the issue of judicial appointments. Shame the press won't mention the degree to which the very Republicans crying about judicial appointments were the architects of the tactic in the first place under Clinton.

I believe this ruling will hand the 2002 congressional elections to the Republican Party.
posted by Chanther at 2:49 PM on June 26, 2002


Yeah, well, I think we could all use a little less empty symbolism. There are meaningful symbols out there which are cheapened by every borrowing of their power.

Hear, hear!

And I agree that the twisted SCOTUS we currently endure will have a VERY hard time upholding this unusual evidence of good sense. Perhaps if enough of us loudly cheer this, rather than shrugging it off as insignificant and letting the rabid right-wingers rule the day with their hoots of dismay.

Propaganda has no place in our government, be it of a religious or some other flavor. Take it out of the pledge, take it off the money, take it out of oaths. Believe what you will, but don't use our shared, secular governmental institutions to preach your creed at the rest of us.
posted by rushmc at 2:54 PM on June 26, 2002


Chanther: I wouldn't be surprised if Republicans make a nice showing in the fall either, but you don't think that any of that War On Terror business would have anything to do with it.....?
posted by Sapphireblue at 2:55 PM on June 26, 2002


When I was a kid in California, the "under God" was deleted from the pledge. . .right wing talk show people made a fuss about it but life went on.

No one seems to remember that, but then no one seemed to remember that little extra horn riff at the end of one version of Penny Lane either.
posted by Danf at 2:57 PM on June 26, 2002


wow, was that the RNC urging people to ignore the law of the land if they don't like it? right on, i'll toke to that.
posted by hob at 2:57 PM on June 26, 2002


thomcatspike - that's the most biased article I've read in days! I find it hard to believe that
400 000 adolescents attempt suicide each year, and that a child is shot every day in the U.S.

For me the bottom line is that if you don't want to say something then don't say it. And if you were suspended for not saying the pledge then that would be a different story. Here in Canada every student attending school (high school included) has to listen to a recording of the national anthem each morning (is it the same in the U.S.?), and the funny thing is that most of the students in my class weren't born in Canada (neither was I) so I doubt they felt any patriotism.
posted by ( .)(. ) at 2:58 PM on June 26, 2002


Actually, save the "In God We Trust" debacle for a rainy day. The real fun should begin with the insurance companies and ridding their contracts with the phrase "act of God" to describe an event entirely outside the realm of the describable. Should this decision be the beginning of a crackdown on all forms of God that pervade our quotidian existence, then I would LOVE to see lawyers arguing in court over an old contract that features the "act of God" boilerplate.

PROSECUTOR REPRESENTING PROPERTY OWNER: "Your honor, my client couldn't anticipate the bolt of lightning that completely destroyed his farm. Under the terms of the contract, it was an Act of God which permitted...."

DEFENDER REPRESENTING INSURANCE COMPANY WHO IMPLEMENTED "ACT OF GOD" CLAUSE IN CONTRACT: Objection.

JUDGE: Sustained. Prosecutor, you are well aware that you're going to have to stop regaling the Court with this God nonsense. I'm sure you know of the modifications meted out to our pledge of allegiance.

PROSECUTOR: Your Honor, I was trying to elucidate the semantic...

JUDGE: I don't care, counsel. I will have no "act of God" in our court. Shall I throw out the case?

PROSECUTOR: Very well, Your Honor.
posted by ed at 3:00 PM on June 26, 2002


Chanther -- right on. And it isn't fair, really -- Clinton appointed very few of the kinds of judges who would make this kind of law.

But, in any event, it will give Bush a MASSIVE window to push through his more conservative nominees to the Courts of Appeals and to the SCOTUS if there are any retirements after the final session tomorrow. Democratic Senators will have to think very hard about delaying nominees when it could cost liberal Democrats in moderate states (like Wellstone) so severely.
posted by MattD at 3:00 PM on June 26, 2002


Yeah, well, I think we could all use a little less empty symbolism. There are meaningful symbols out there which are cheapened by every borrowing of their power.

Hob nails the point. First, requiring children to recite anything, mindlessly, is antithetical to the goals the recitation is allegedly trying to achieve. When I pledge myself to something, it's a real commitment, and I mean it. I won't cheapen that by having it be due to coercion, either implicit or explicit.

To me they were just words, and I was reciting them still in my usual morning fog. I imbued them with about as much importance as the words to "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" I was "forced" to sing in music class.

So the argument is that kids should recite a pledge that's meaningless? Or that we should all see our promises as being as fleeting and nonchalant as yours apparently are?

The minority always wins.
That's so farcically far from the truth it'd be hysterical if it weren't upsetting. Have you ever been to the United States?

Anybody else have public school teachers who decided "To heck with the concept of separation of church and state"?

The majority of the public school teachers I had were willfully unconcerned with the alleged separation.

This decision is not going to materially affect one person's life. But yet it's all anyone's going to talk about for days.

Had this decision come a dozen years ago or so, it would have materially affected my life a great deal. I would not have been repeatedly threatened with suspension (for "insubordination") in high school. I would not have been told, by teachers in my public school, that my future career opportunities would be threatened if I didn't "find god" at some point. I'd certainly not have been perceived as a "troublemaker" for defending my right to be logical.

...the judges said any child whose personal or religious beliefs prevented him from reciting the pledge was left with the "unacceptable choice between participating and protesting."

I think that's a little extreme.


That was exactly my choice as a teenager. I first chose to sit and not recite the pledge. After being threatened with suspension, I chose not to face the flag when I stood silently. (see the logic of "but pledging allegiance to a swatch of fabric...um, no.") After being threatened with suspension again, I chose to face the flag and stay silent.

A few more threats, and I progressed to saying the pledge as is, but substituting "under nothing" or "under the law" or just silence for the "under god" phrase, and at that point they finally relented.

If you think it doesn't matter that a smart, motivated kid could be made to fear and resent attending high school due to a lack of belief in others' mythologies, then yes, this is all unimportant drivel.

To a person who grew up like I did, this is the first bit of hope that one great torment that was visited on me by paranoid McCarthyites and their intellectual progeny might not be inflicted upon my children.

So, yes. I called it "Quite possibly the best news I've heard in ages."
posted by anildash at 3:01 PM on June 26, 2002


More fodder:

"In recent years, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned 27 of 29 9th Circuit decisions so that tells you that the 9th Circuit is out of step with the rest of the federal judiciary," said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.
posted by emptyage at 3:02 PM on June 26, 2002


No, Sapphire, I think the War on Terror will have very little to do with it, other than symbolically. I think that few Democrats will have the inclination to strongly oppose the president's policies on the War on Terror. Some national Democrats are picking around the margins, criticizing the Middle East policy and whatnot, but I don't think those sorts of arguments are going to get much play in the congressional elections.

But both the War and Terror and this issue play exactly into the Republican strategy, which is "We are the party which defends America. We are the party which upholds our sacred traditions - the party of patriotism and the Flag and the Pledge and God-fearing Americans. If you vote for a Democrat, then the terrorists have already won."

Not every Republican will take this stance, but it is the national strategy.
posted by Chanther at 3:02 PM on June 26, 2002


I went to a private school that had a mandatory, non-denominational chapel service (where "non-denominational" means "Christian" without saying so).

I had a simialar experience, as several of the kids were from the middle east. Not once was it mentioned or complained that we read each morning from the BiBle. It made me wonder that during open house for the scholol, these childrens parents aplauded it. And yes, several told me they believed in Allah.
God's will is our Peace
posted by thomcatspike at 3:04 PM on June 26, 2002


similar, school, children's, hit wrong yellow button. oops
posted by thomcatspike at 3:06 PM on June 26, 2002


Fox News has a blurb on the history of the pledge, claiming:
In 1954, under pressure from the Knights of Columbus and other religious groups, Congress officially added the words "under God" to the Pledge.

The idea (however unlikely this decision is to be upheld) that the 1950's KoC could end up disfiguring our constitution with their pet idea is pretty sick...
posted by Zurishaddai at 3:08 PM on June 26, 2002


"We are the party which defends America"

Well, that's exactly what I meant. Not so much that there's any Democrat who will run on a platform that includes coming out against the "war." The War On Terror is going to survive and thrive for many of the same reasons the War On Drugs did/has: there's no politician in the nation who wants a change of career so much he'll stand up and openly say "we're going about this all wrong."

But I'm close to committing topic hijack again so I think I'll shut off the computer and go find a cheeseburger.
posted by Sapphireblue at 3:11 PM on June 26, 2002


bclark,

You're right...some of the stuff on FreeRepublic is so bad it's entertaining (due to the sheer incomprehensibility of how people could ever think like this):

These liberals will stop at nothing to destroy this country. Tell me, what is the difference between the destruction of the twin towers in New York and this. [link]

Chuck Colson has called America the "post-Christian Republic" and I think he got it right. We are now 50% Hispanic, the Arabs/Asians are popping out babies, while Americans are having fewer than 2 children per marriage. We are already a minority, thanks to the Hispanic population. I don't want to see the Census in 8 years that will show that we are a smaller minority, as Asians and Hispanics babyboom their way into getting rid of everything about America as we know it. [link]

And once we take back the Senate and strengthen our hold on the House, we will have the political firepower to RESTRUCTURE the 9th Circuit, long a bane of civilization and civilized, God-fearing people everywhere, right out of existence. [link]

etc....etc....etc....
posted by thewittyname at 3:12 PM on June 26, 2002


Sorry for the length of this post, but here is a portion of the dissenting opinion (it was a 2-1 decision). I agree with every word said here:
Some, who rather choke on the notion of de minimis, have resorted to the euphemism “ceremonial deism.” See, e.g., Lynch, 465 U.S. at 716, 104 S. Ct. at 1382 (Brennan, J., dissenting). But whatever it is called (I care not), it comes to this: such phrases as “In God We Trust,” or “under God” have no tendency to establish a religion in this country or to suppress anyone’s exercise, or non-exercise, of religion, except in the fevered eye of persons who most fervently would like to drive all tincture of religion out of the public life of our polity. Those expressions have not caused any real harm of that sort over the years since 1791, and are not likely to do so in the future. As I see it, that is not because they are drained of meaning. Rather, as I have already indicated, it is because their tendency to establish religion (or affect its exercise) is exiguous.

I recognize that some people may not feel good about hearing the phrases recited in their presence, but, then, others might not feel good if they are omitted. At any rate, the Constitution is a practical and balanced charter for the just governance of a free people in a vast territory. Thus, although we do feel good when we contemplate the effects of its inspiring phrasing and majestic promises, it is not primarily a feel-good prescription. In West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 630, 642, 63 S. Ct. 1178, 1181, 1187, 87 L. Ed. 1628 (1943), for example, the Supreme Court did not say that the Pledge could not be recited in the presence of Jehovah’s Witness children; it merely said that they did not have to recite it. That fully protected their constitutional rights by precluding the government from trenching upon “the sphere of intellect and spirit.” Id. at 642, 63 S. Ct. at 1187. As the Court pointed out, their religiously based refusal “to participate in the ceremony [would] not interfere with or deny rights of others to do so.” Id. at 630, 63 S. Ct. at 1181. We should not permit Newdow’s feel-good concept to change that balance.

My reading of the stelliscript suggests that upon Newdow’s theory of our Constitution, accepted by my colleagues today, we will soon find ourselves prohibited from using our album of patriotic songs in many public settings. “God Bless America” and “America The Beautiful” will be gone for sure, and while use of the first and second stanzas of the Star Spangled Banner will still be permissible, we will be precluded from straying into the third. And currency beware! Judges can accept those results if they limit themselves to elements and tests, while failing to look at the good sense and principles that animated those tests in the first place. But they do so at the price of removing a vestige of the awe we all must feel at the immenseness of the universe and our own small place within it, as well as the wonder we must feel at the good fortune of our country. That will cool the febrile nerves of a few at the cost of removing the healthy glow conferred upon many citizens when the forbidden verses, or phrases, are uttered, read, or seen.

In short, I cannot accept the eliding of the simple phrase “under God” from our Pledge of Allegiance, when it is obvious that its tendency to establish religion in this country or to interfere with the free exercise (or non-exercise) of religion is de minimis.

Thus, I respectfully concur in part and dissent in part.
Ah, de minimus. A concept that has forever vanished from American society. Oh well, cat's out of the bag now.
posted by pardonyou? at 3:16 PM on June 26, 2002


How about: "One nation, under a materialistic, mechanistic, morally relative, and evolving universe..."
posted by aaronshaf at 3:23 PM on June 26, 2002


Anybody else have public school teachers who decided "To heck with the concept of separation of church and state"?

Your example is certainly more extreme than mine. In Junior High, we had a shop teacher whose collection of top-of-desk books included dictionary, grammar guide, and Holy Bible. It never came up while I was in the room, but according to rumor and legend, "using the Lord's Name in vain" got you a rather stern lecture.
posted by ilsa at 3:23 PM on June 26, 2002


How about: "One nation, under a materialistic, mechanistic, morally relative, and evolving universe..."

How about? Except probably "in" rather than "under". And it's only relativistic at high speeds and very large distances.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:26 PM on June 26, 2002


I would not have been told, by teachers in my public school, that my future career opportunities would be threatened if I didn't "find god" at some point

That is SO sick.
posted by rushmc at 3:30 PM on June 26, 2002


Zurishaddai, I was about to link to that. The thing I found most intersting about that article was that the guy who wrote the pledge was a commie. Er, "Christian Socialist."
posted by mrbula at 3:35 PM on June 26, 2002


Sorry, pardonyou?, but the quote you provided reads like nothing more than an apologist with an agenda to me. There's no logic in it, just rationalization of a pre-existing belief. All that talk of "feeling good," is ridiculous, on a par with Bush's idiotic rejoinder to Gore in one of the debates in which he dodged the question by stuttering "I'm not a bad man in my heart, are you saying I am?"

The fact of the matter is that language can be used to promote an agenda, and that official language should not be worded in such a way as to promote a specific religious agenda when the government is specifically, constitutionally forbidden from doing so. Even reasonable religious people can see and approve of that distinction, as we have seen in this thread.

If a powerful lobbying group in 1954 had gotten the words "one nation, under Martians" added to the Pledge, would you not see the necessity of removing it? (Keep in mind that in 1954, the majority of Americans believed in the existence of Martians, the fact that they do not exist notwithstanding.)
posted by rushmc at 3:38 PM on June 26, 2002


God is dead.
posted by dopamine at 3:38 PM on June 26, 2002


Just some random thoughts about this ruling:

Just to be clear on what the 9th circuit did here: In 1943 the Supreme Court held that students could not be punished for refusing to recite the pledge. (the case is West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943) if anyone wants to read it). No student anywhere in this country can be forced by a public school to recite the pledge. The 9th Circuit took the next logical step and held that school officials can't even recite the pledge in front of students.

I tend to think that this opinion, if followed, would turn out to be quite important in 1st amendment law. It's hard to see how you could draw a distinction between this and, say, performing "God Bless America" at a public event. But, I don't think there's much chance that SCOTUS will agree with the 9th Circuit. So, brace yourselves for a reversal, probably sooner rather than later.

One thing to think about: the one guaranteed result of this decision is that it will flood the 9th circuit federal and state courts with frivolous lawsuits directed at public officials that somehow invoked religion in the course of their official duties. is it really worth all those tax dollars?

Finally, as a Christian, i'm not too bothered by the idea of striking "under God" from the pledge. On the one hand, I'm not particularly sympathetic to those that feel oppressed just by having the word "God" uttered in their presence by a public official. But on the other hand, Christianity has historically been at its best and most pure when it has been least affiliated with state power. Power corrupts religion just like it corrupts everything else. So, although i think the court's interpretation of the first amendment is somewhat ludicrous, may be a good thing for church regardless.
posted by boltman at 3:43 PM on June 26, 2002


dopamine is dead.

-God
posted by plemeljr at 3:44 PM on June 26, 2002


Anyone else think that the Pledge of Allegiance should not be recited for reasons IN ADDITION TO the "under god" portion? I'm as patriotic as any American, and I firmly believe in American principles & values, but the very idea of a "pledge of allegiance" is ridiculous in so many ways that it would be laughable if it weren't so wrong.
posted by davidmsc at 3:44 PM on June 26, 2002


To a person who grew up like I did, this is the first bit of hope that one great torment that was visited on me by paranoid McCarthyites and their intellectual progeny might not be inflicted upon my children.

Is this still todays FBI?, and were did they go wrong, with what anildash has said above.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:48 PM on June 26, 2002


The 'de minimus' argument would be compelling, pardonyou?, if it weren't for the fact that the primary motivation for the establishment clause in the first place was the ever-present Oath of Allegiance to the British monarchy, which was (and is) also an oath to a particular religious institution. So if 'ceremonial deism' is to be challenged anywhere, it's going to be in the ritualised, mandatory swearing of oaths.
posted by riviera at 3:57 PM on June 26, 2002


Anything that separates anything religious from anything political is always good. They didn't belong together in the first place. Religion used politics. Then politics used religion. It's time they were left to fend on their own.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:23 PM on June 26, 2002


Wow, why are you all so scared of the word "God"? I mean, it's just a word. I've got some other scary words for you, like "pudding" and "winnowing" and "vibraphone" and "Savonarola" and "margarine". The whole state of California must be cowering in fear and convulsing in outrage from such unfettered uttering of phonemery.

Apparently no one has ever thought about the fact that, in the language of 18th century Deists, simple terms like "God" (gasp!) had different connotations and references than it does to your average vegetarian atheist in the Bay Area.

I'm pretty much a deist/agnostic, but I don't really see this as an important victory for constitutional rights. It seems this case and it's opinion is a symbolic semantic quibble. Those that are railing against "empty symbolism" take note.

I grew up in a rural Pennsylvania public school and we recited the pledge, sometimes listened to the national anthem, and always had a moment of "silent meditation", never a prayer or even the connotation of one. The pledge was never explained and it wasn't until much later that I parsed it and though about what it meant. I always try to ask myself WWFD in these situations: What Would (Ben) Franklin Do? I'm pretty sure he and Jefferson and George Mason et al would be uncomfortable with pledging allegiance (unless you're taking office or joining the military) so perhaps the pledge should go. Again, my issue is with the whole pledge, not the mention of the generic entity "God".

As for the other school rituals, I'm sure there's something darkly evil about having a moment of silence contemplation and that will soon be excised from the school day as well, but it was a nice routine and I still try to practice it to this day.

Oh, just to cause further panic: God God God God God God God God God God God God God! Pudding! Wankel Rotary Engine! Call the 9th circuit and have me excised.
posted by evanizer at 4:24 PM on June 26, 2002


Miguel, It's time they were left to fend on their own.
instead of It's time, maybe we need to regress, as our Founding Fathers built our country with these ideas when separating from England. I know your in Portugal. So is this what you feel for your government, or the world, not that, I know.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:42 PM on June 26, 2002


re: the founding fathers. there is no way that Madison or Franklin or Jefferson or ANY of the founding fathers would have approved of a federal court using the Constitution to tell local schools what they were and were not allowed to recite in front of their students. it simply wouldn' t have even entered their minds that a federal court could exert this kind of power over locally-controlled schools.

whether or not this is the right decision, there is no question that this a thoroughly late-20th century interpretation of the constitution.
posted by boltman at 4:47 PM on June 26, 2002


"It seems this case and it's opinion is a symbolic semantic quibble."

That should be "its," not "it's."
posted by honkzilla at 4:52 PM on June 26, 2002


Thank you for the correction darling... : )
posted by evanizer at 7:10 PM on June 26, 2002


Since both prayer and the Pledge are now unconstitutional, I think it would be fun if teachers started making their students recite the Green Lantern oath.
posted by MegoSteve at 9:48 PM on June 26, 2002


My former employer, the Mpls Star Tribune, has an interesting graphic -- a Flash map of the US with each state marked as to whether it requires students to say the pledge, says the pledge is optional, says teachers can post the pledge, or has no law about it at all.
posted by GaelFC at 11:18 PM on June 26, 2002


Semantics are fun, kids. Let's look at how the average 10 year-old interprets the word "God," and compare it to evanizer's argument that the usage comes from an antiquated 18th century notion of God. Methinks his argument would fall.

How about this compromise? Instead of 'empty symbolism,' why not have a pause in which the students are asked:

"Do you love your country today? Why, or why not?"

Encourage thought and analysis, rather than mindless automatons.
posted by Psionic_Tim at 11:28 PM on June 26, 2002


Wow, why are you all so scared of the word "God"?

I'm not, evanizer. Why are the god-lovers so afraid of me?
posted by anildash at 11:33 PM on June 26, 2002


I don't buy the whole "it's just a word" argument. If it's just a word, then do a textual search-and-replace on the pledge, switching "God" for "Satan" or some other such heresy, and see how America feels about it. It's not the word, it's the connotation of the government imposing that word on its citizens.
posted by Succa at 11:43 PM on June 26, 2002


Today's ruling gives me hope for America.

Thanks to the good doctor who brought the original suit...who fought so hard for the rights of Americans. We are in your debt.

You did the right thing.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 12:08 AM on June 27, 2002


I'm an atheist, and I have just one word to say about this ruling: "Amen!"
posted by hitsman at 12:29 AM on June 27, 2002


If the economy is bad in Nov. it will be foolish for any politician to make an issue out of two words in the pledge. If the economies good, it's anyone's bet.
posted by drezdn at 12:44 AM on June 27, 2002


I don't know if this has already been posted, but here is a link to a short history of the Pledge of Allegiance, which was published in 1898 in The Youth's Companion magazine. It was written by Francis Bellamy, a Christian Socialist, and the brother of Edward Bellamy, author of Looking Backward.

The article points out that, "In 1954, Congress after a campaign by the Knights of Columbus, added the words, 'under God,' to the Pledge."
http://www.vineyard.net/vineyard/history/pledge.htm

posted by rwkenyon at 1:04 AM on June 27, 2002


Good. For years I was told to stand and proclaim that I accepted -- that we all accepted -- that the country was run by some something awful and weird, an invisible, unknowable, eternal, dangerous thing that knew everything you were doing. And I don't mean the CIA.

Now maybe other kids won't have to spout such malarkey before they can learn algebra in the morning. If you want to engender faith in a country, you just need to run a country worth having faith in. The rest follows naturally.
posted by pracowity at 1:09 AM on June 27, 2002


The other interesting meta-argument that complete fascinates me about this debate is how it reveals the complete failure of civics education in the U.S. Not picking on anyone in particular, but the number of people on television, in print and on the Web that are arguing from what they remember about the way American civics work only reveals how little they remember from their high school civics classes, eh?
posted by bclark at 4:27 AM on June 27, 2002


Every single argument I hear in support of the Pledge uses the same old slippery slope argument. "Well, if you take "God" out of the Pledge, we can't sing "God Bless America!" My soul weeps for thee!
posted by adampsyche at 5:32 AM on June 27, 2002


I've always believed one should respect the flag for what it represents. It's a symbol for many important sacrifices that people have made to keep the life we lead here. But it's a conduit to those sacrifices, not an end unto itself.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 6:00 AM on June 27, 2002


vibraphone

The word makes me tremble.

But I'm not afraid of Anil...
posted by mikewas at 7:02 AM on June 27, 2002


couldn't we just sell california to the chinese.
posted by clavdivs at 7:23 AM on June 27, 2002


Apparently no one has ever thought about the fact that, in the language of 18th century Deists.....

Problem is, this is an issue with 1954 politicians (deist, christian, or any other personal philosophy). That means you're off by 200 years.

As to what they meant in 1954:

"the children of our land, in the daily recitation of the pledge in school, will be daily impressed with a true understanding of our way of life and its origins." -- Louis C. Rabaut, House sponsor of the bill that made the change.

"From this day forward, the millions of our school children will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural schoolhouse, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty." -- Dwight D. Eisenhower, during the signing ceremony.
posted by dwivian at 7:58 AM on June 27, 2002


Knights of Columbus don't they have another more well known name, ugh.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:14 AM on June 27, 2002


I would not have been told, by teachers in my public school, that my future career opportunities would be threatened if I didn't "find god" at some point

I get a lot of Jehovah's Witnesses in my area. The most recent set came when I was very busy during spring cleaning, had the house in total disarray, I'm covered in dust and toting a vacuum about the place in the hopes of taming the wild cat hair tumbleweeds...so I was really in no mood to be interrupted, but they wouldn't go away...kept ringing the door bell and knocking on the window next to the door.

Eventually, I decided my choices were to either release the hounds or answer the door...and answering the door was going to be easier than getting the dog back...so, I opened the door, dusty, sweaty and cranky.

This poor polyester-clad, beehived woman took one look at me and blurted "HaveyoufoundJesus?"

To which I responded, "Yep, he was under the bed the whole time." And shut the door. They've never come back. Which is nice. :)
posted by dejah420 at 12:57 PM on June 27, 2002


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