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Lawmakers blast pledge ruling...
June 27, 2002 6:14 AM   Subscribe

Lawmakers blast pledge ruling... Yes I know this thread was started yesterday but at over 130 posts and given the recent news from lawmakers stating they would push for a constitutional amendment authorising the words "under God" if the Supreme Court did not smack down the 9th circuit courts decision I felt compelled to post again on this subject. Smack me down if you like...
posted by gloege (155 comments total)

 
One nation under God ... In God We Trust ... God Bless America ... I will tell the truth, so help me God. Why not just amend the Constitution and endorse religion. Stop the hypocrisy!
posted by quirked at 6:34 AM on June 27, 2002


What a load of crap. These are the same lawmakers who, in their quest to child-proof the U.S. are trying to deliver the smackdown to the Supreme Court. Thankfully the SC had the balls to make such a ruling although I could have lived with a revised Pledge. Just remove the "G" word and all would be fine. No?
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:49 AM on June 27, 2002


When in doubt, always go with the photo of children saying the pledge. But make sure that many races are represented. Oh, and gotta have big flags behind them.
posted by ColdChef at 6:50 AM on June 27, 2002


I'm sitting here in the House press gallery awaiting this morning's Pledge, which promises to be the loudest in memory. Also, the House predictably will take up a resolution saying the decision was nonsense. If anything interesting happens (no promises here), I'll report back.
posted by thescoop at 6:55 AM on June 27, 2002


Great. An absolutely foolish waste of the effort to amend the Constitution. Surely their efforts would be better spent amending to authorize the ripping of rights from citizens, but then pledge is probably a higher priority than raising the debt ceiling to keep the government running or getting to the bottom of the various accounting debacles. This is all to say nothing of the brain dead attempts to unify law enforcement at the federal level.

"I pledge allegiance to flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which is stands, one nation that I will while being a loyal American question stupidity and misguided attempts to reshape so the we can maintain liberty and justice for all"
posted by shagoth at 6:56 AM on June 27, 2002


just change god to dog :) problem solved!
posted by kliuless at 6:56 AM on June 27, 2002


I love that the lawmakers in this article are using such insightful gems such as "stupid", "outrageous", "nuts" and "political correctness run amok". Way to work that hot button guys.

I'm also disappointed that the Dems (including Byrd and Daschle) seem to be aligned with the Republicans on this issue. Who's left to defend our freedom from having religion imposed on us? I keep forgetting which party is the one that's supposed to be protecting individual liberties from a greedy and ever-expansive national government.

So, what are the odds of the Supreme Court striking this down?
posted by rks404 at 6:59 AM on June 27, 2002


"Our Founding Fathers must be spinning in their graves. This is the worst kind of political correctness run amok," Bond said.

huh? but it wasn't part of the pledge till recently. and why should we care about the opinion of a brittish secret agent anyway?
posted by ggggarret at 7:04 AM on June 27, 2002


much ado about nothing.
posted by zoopraxiscope at 7:04 AM on June 27, 2002


In other news, national legislators are stupid, craven and ill-informed. How could we not have noticed?
posted by riviera at 7:07 AM on June 27, 2002


I second what ggggarret said, about the 'under god' being a recent addition.

Wern't the Founding Fathers the ones pushing seperation between Church and State?
posted by jazon at 7:08 AM on June 27, 2002


Thankfully the SC had the balls to make such a ruling

The Supreme Court did not make the ruling, it was the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. I think the Supremes will strike it down.

And now the death threats begin.

"There have been phone messages that are not particularly attractive, I guess from the people who have God on their side," he said on NBC's "Today" show.

I can not believe this shit. The people who vault the US as a free society are the same ones who want to shove God down the throats of others. I guess we can be free, but only if it is their kind of free. Has anyone esle been reminded of Jello Biafra's Pledge of Defiance?
posted by adampsyche at 7:09 AM on June 27, 2002


rks404: The odds are pretty good, actually.

Even the Ninth Circuit ruloing was a 2-1 split; the Ninth Circuit has a pretty solid history of getting overruled by the Supreme Court.

If they agree to take the case (and I'm sure they will, as I understand there's a direct conflict with a 7th Circuit ruling on the same point) it will be for the pleasure of writing a scathing, sarcastic opinion demaning the decision of the appellate court.

According to Dahlia:

the Supreme Court thinks the use of the word "God" in the pledge is constitutionally permissible. They know this because members of the court have, while never having ruled squarely on this issue, said so. More than once. But the 9th Circuit dismisses that as "dicta" and drops it into a footnote.

I would have liked it if she put some links in there, but what can you do.

One important thing to note: the Supreme Court won't even think of hearing this until next year (the normal time frame for such things) and we just happen to have mid-term elections coming up before then.
posted by mikewas at 7:10 AM on June 27, 2002


I think that the media coverage of this story has been (predicatably) bad, and it's worse than I thought. Sure, every politician wants to distance themselves from this topic, especially as we approach the mid-term elections. And yes, most americans believe in angels. So they're really representing us the broadest sense.

But nearly every story I've seen / heard, including this AM on NPR, has been much more focused on the pledge "being declared unconstitutional" instead of on the issued of being compelled (by state law) to recite the pledge.

The issue is, as I see, compulsion + religious speech = big fat constitutional no no. I mean, sure, people can do what they want in private, and they can even do their private praying publicly (in a government sponsored event no less). But the state can't compel me to pledge that the US is "under God". All the news stories are just jumping the gun saying that the pledge is unconstitutional, which is a shortcut around the heart of the matter.
posted by zpousman at 7:11 AM on June 27, 2002


Why don't we all live in our basements?

Then we could change "under god" to "under ground" by adding R, U, and N. Problem solved!
posted by iceberg273 at 7:16 AM on June 27, 2002


How is it Jesse Helms is the only Senator that didn't cast a vote on this? Has he just stopped showing up since he's retiring?
posted by alan at 7:16 AM on June 27, 2002


My understanding is that they weren't compelled to recite it. I thought the Supreme Court rules that unconstitutional in the 70's.
posted by revbrian at 7:19 AM on June 27, 2002


under god was added in 1951 or 54....
posted by mkelley at 7:19 AM on June 27, 2002


In the next election I'm voting for new people who respect the Constitution and don't vote 'yea' simply to tell god-lovers what they want to hear. Bah.
posted by fleener at 7:21 AM on June 27, 2002


"under god" was added during the Red Scare. Yeah, that's something for us to rally around. Maybe Bush will propose another change to the pledge to mention every citizen's duty to fight the war on terror.
posted by fleener at 7:22 AM on June 27, 2002


To all you non-Americans out there: you must be laughing your heads off at us right now. And I wouldn't blame you.
posted by Tin Man at 7:22 AM on June 27, 2002


In other news, national legislators are stupid, craven and ill-informed. How could we not have noticed?

And why do we keep electing them?
posted by rushmc at 7:22 AM on June 27, 2002


Because they're the only ones with enough funding to run viable campaigns.
posted by Tin Man at 7:24 AM on June 27, 2002


An amendment? Jeez. Definitely makes me think of this simpsons song:
Boy: Say, who left all this garbage on the steps of Congress?

Amendment-to-be: I'm not garbage.
I'm an amendment to be.
Yes, an amendment to be.
And I'm hoping that they'll ratify me.
There's a lot of flag burners
Who have got too much freedom.
I want to make it legal for policemen to beat 'em.
'Cause there's limits to our liberties.
'Least I hope and pray that there are.
'Cause those liberal freaks go too far.

Boy: But why can't we just make a lawagainst flag burning?

Amendment-to-be: Because that law would be unconstitutional. But if we changethe Constitution...

Boy: Then we could make all sorts of crazy laws.

Amendment-to-be: Now you're catching on.

posted by malphigian at 7:29 AM on June 27, 2002


huh? but it wasn't part of the pledge till recently. and why should we care about the opinion of a brittish secret agent anyway?

That's right. It was only added in 1954. The original version of the pledge was penned back in 1892 and read thus:
"I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands - one nation indivisible - with liberty and justice for all."
A bit more info about the history of the pledge is available. And here.
posted by warhol at 7:29 AM on June 27, 2002


Doh, sorry, broken link, the one on this page works.
posted by malphigian at 7:30 AM on June 27, 2002


Say...if you're a Christian, you're not supposed to "pledge allegiance" to anything but God anyway. First commandment, no? Right-wing hypocrites.
posted by drinkcoffee at 7:30 AM on June 27, 2002


A ruling whose merits will materially affect exactly zero people will now have repercussions that affect millions, including (as many have indicated) the next elections. That's why this was a stupid ruling. As zoopraxiscope said, "much ado about nothing." But now we have to deal with the "ado."
posted by pardonyou? at 7:30 AM on June 27, 2002


In other news, national legislators are stupid, craven and ill-informed. How could we not have noticed?

And why do we keep electing them?


Because the Amercian people are stupid and ill-informed. Duh!
posted by quirked at 7:32 AM on June 27, 2002


I say just remove the "under god" part since it was only added in the 50's. That way it is a pledge to the country, and not to religion.
Peoples choice to practice whatever religion they want to in this country, or not to practice dates back to the creation of this country and it's initial settlement. Add to that the whole separation of church and state issue, and tell the damn politicians to practice religion on Sunday. Monday to Friday they need to get back to work like everyone else.

Flip side: That someone took the time to sue over this because he felt his daughter "was hurt by being forced to watch and listen to a government-enforced ritual that proclaimed God" just shows how warped the legal system has become. They should just yeah yeah him and send him back to his life. There has to be far more important things for the courts to be focusing on.

As stated by zoopraxiscope "much ado about nothing."
posted by a3matrix at 7:38 AM on June 27, 2002


How is it Jesse Helms is the only Senator that didn't cast a vote on this? Has he just stopped showing up since he's retiring?

He's recovering from open-heart surgery.
posted by Dean King at 7:43 AM on June 27, 2002


Say...if you're a Christian, you're not supposed to "pledge allegiance" to anything but God anyway. First commandment, no? Right-wing hypocrites.

Very good point.

This whole issue is one of power. Public schools do not exist to educate, they exist to socialize, to make children hold common values (dictated by whoever is in control of the government) and be 'good' citizens. This problem will never go away, and I suspect will get worse, as long as there is state controlled education. There are constant battles between various religious groups (including athiests who often hold to their view with the fervor of thiests) to not only control the pledge, but the curriculum itself. What defines a religion? At what point do we recognize that just about every subject can be taught from a different perspective, based on religion, and that many of these perspectives contradict each other? As long as children are forced to attend government schools, this will always be a problem.
posted by insomnyuk at 7:44 AM on June 27, 2002


Tin Man, so you only vote for someone if you think they'll win? This isn't a horse race. You vote for the best candidate. You're web-savvy. You can find out all you want to know about any candidate on your ballot.

If we continue to treat the country like a horse race, we'll continue stepping in horseshit.
posted by fleener at 7:56 AM on June 27, 2002


Fleener: rushmc asked "why do we keep electing them" (emphasis added). I was just stating my opinion on why stupid candidates always win -- it's because the public at large votes for them. I wasn't talking about my voting preferences.
posted by Tin Man at 8:00 AM on June 27, 2002


Because they're the only ones with enough funding to run viable campaigns.

And that, my friends, is why America, as currently practiced, is no longer America, as conceived. I suppose the current open disregard for the Constitution is the next logical step for a nation that has strayed so far from its defining principles.
posted by rushmc at 8:03 AM on June 27, 2002


Meanwhile, Bush said this today:

"We need commonsense judges who understand that our rights were derived from God." (here)

Philosophers are gonna have a field day with that one.
posted by Tin Man at 8:04 AM on June 27, 2002


My understanding is that they weren't compelled to recite it.

The justices ruled that putting kids in the situation to recite or not recite the part with God was unfair.
posted by adampsyche at 8:05 AM on June 27, 2002


>>How is it Jesse Helms is the only Senator that didn't cast a vote on this? Has he just stopped showing up since he's retiring?

Helms has been undergoing rehabilitative work after his recent surgery and hasn't made many votes lately.
posted by thescoop at 8:09 AM on June 27, 2002


***Bush, who attends church on a semi-regular basis and whose political base is rooted deeply the Christian conservative movement, said God ``is obviously an important part of my life'' and in the lives of most Americans.

``That's why the ruling is out of step with the traditions and history of America,'' Bush said.***
(from the NYT article mentioned above....)

That's what bothers me most about this whole deal. The "traditions and history" of America aren't being represented at all. Our Consititution protects the MINORITY as well as the majority, although Bush doesn't seem to think so.
Damnit, when is Joe Bob Briggs going to run for President?
posted by bradth27 at 8:09 AM on June 27, 2002


People fled to the this country before the Revolution for profit or for religious freedom. The connection between American identity and religious pluralism seems obvious. Even before the Revolution, this was the most religiously diverse country in the world. Amid the patriotic zest and ferver at the end of the Revolution, American clergymen were entirely convinced of the complementary relationship between their republican governments and their own religious institutions and Americans happily embraced the idea of a "civil religion". However, make note that there appears to have been as much opposition to the idea of establishing one particular church as there was agreement that religion (rather Christianity, or Protestantism) should be maintained. Eleven of the original thirteen colonies limited political office to Protestants for years even as exclusive establishments of religion were abolished. Is there any wonder to the prevalence of WASP moral idealism throughout our system of government and the overwhelming influence of Christianity in every political and national symbol be it financial, artistic or otherwise?

I would also point you to Benjamin F. Haywood's address on the The Practical Separation of Church & State given to the 1876 Centennial Congress of Liberals.
posted by gloege at 8:09 AM on June 27, 2002


Establishment of even ceremonial deism (justice Brennan's description) is in direct conflict with the religious beliefs of American Buddhists, Atheists, Hindus, Agnostics, and many smaller religious populations. It is an establishment of religion since it is the official wording of the pledge whether kids are protected in abstaining or not.

If I want to raise my kid Buddhist, why should she have to be confronted by the official pledge of her government that simultaneously invokes a creator God and puports to limit the Government from establishment of Religion?

Of course, this is not how the "debate" is framed. "THE PLEDGE HAS BEEN RULED UNCONSTITUTIONAL! THIS IS AN INSULT TO VETERANS!" shrill. "How do you feel about the ruling? Well, as an immigrant to this country, I love the pledge. Thank you Mr. Secretary."
posted by mblandi at 8:12 AM on June 27, 2002


To all you non-Americans out there: you must be laughing your heads off at us right now. And I wouldn't blame you.

Speak for yourself, although since we Americans get to laugh our heads off at the sublime stupidity of the rest of the world constantly, I suppose they deserve an occasional laugh as well.

I think this is a complicated issue. I believe the decision by the 9th circuit was wrong, mostly because of a question of degree. To what degree did the unspecific mention of the word God constitute a law regarding an establishment of religion? Not much. And the recitation of the pledge has not been mandatory for years. I don't think the majority opinion convincingly argued their case in favor of the unconstitutionality of this line in the pledge, therefore I suspect the Supremes will strike the ruling down.

I'm more uncomfortable with the whole idea of a mandated pledge for school children. I think there are more grounded and educational ways to inspire respect for and interest in the principles of the United States than the recitation of an oath each morning. Love of country should come from a thorough understanding of the foundations and principles of said country, not from an enforced display of allegiance. The same goes for a religious affiliation. But humanity too often expects blind and unexamined acceptance of doctrine from children, which is the whole modus operandi behind the perpetuation of Islamic (and other religious) fundamentalism.

This whole thing smells of politics all around, with Republicans (rightly) seizing on this as an opportunity to gain the affection of their constituency, and some Democrats (like Tom Daschle) jumping on the bandwagon to ensure they don't get mud on their faces. I won't be so cynical to say that this is the case with everyone. Byrd, for instance, was present for the vote in favor of the addition of the "under God' portion of the pledge and I think has strong convictions about it. But there are those of us agnostic deists who, while not supporting the idea of the spiritual reference, still disagree with the principle of the ruling of the 9th on principle.
posted by evanizer at 8:13 AM on June 27, 2002


Hmm...."our rights were derived from God"? Bush apparently never read Locke's Treatises on Government (an extremely influential text on our founding fathers if I am not mistaken) which asserts exactly the OPPOSITE.
posted by drinkcoffee at 8:13 AM on June 27, 2002


Oops got the wording wrong, the pledge doesn't puport to limit the Government from establishment of Religion. It's clear what I mean.
posted by mblandi at 8:14 AM on June 27, 2002


Wow, Tin Man: I'm now looking for a wire report that includes Putin laughing his head off in response. Actually, Putin's more polite, but I suspect that video footage will reveal that classic Putin 'this makes me look rather good' smile.

evanizer: you've been arguing this well, and I really do sympathise with you. I suppose the question is this: should the issue under question be the pledge itself, or the social context by which it becomes a shibboleth for those who wish to exercise their right to refrain from it?
posted by riviera at 8:19 AM on June 27, 2002


To all you non-Americans out there: you must be laughing your heads off at us right now. And I wouldn't blame you.

Speak for yourself, although since we Americans get to laugh our heads off at the sublime stupidity of the rest of the world constantly, I suppose they deserve an occasional laugh as well.


Evanizer, I guess my point was more about the coverage itself -- how stupid it is that CNN, the President and the Congress think this is the most important issue facing our country right now.

And I agree with you that Americans don't hold a monopoly on stupidity.
posted by Tin Man at 8:20 AM on June 27, 2002


[Robert I. Sherman, American Atheist magazine]: What will you do to win the votes of the Americans who are Atheists?

[George Bush, Sr]: I guess I'm pretty weak in the Atheist community. Faith in god is important to me.

Sherman: Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are Atheists?

Bush: No, I don't know that Atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.

--August 27, 1987 (source)
posted by RJ Reynolds at 8:23 AM on June 27, 2002


Shit. "purport -s".
posted by mblandi at 8:27 AM on June 27, 2002


"We need commonsense judges who understand that our rights were derived from God." (here)
Philosophers are gonna have a field day with that one.


That's the traditional, and still strongest, rationale for the origin of human rights. You'll find it, for instance, in the U.S. Declaration of Independence. The U.N. fudged this in its Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but in a good way I think:

"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood." Endowed by whom? On the other hand, does it really matter?
posted by oddovid at 8:28 AM on June 27, 2002


Uh, drinkcoffee, I'll have to go back and read Locke, but I think you're wrong. Our Founding Fathers wrote an influential text called the Declaration of Independence, which says (italics mine):
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness -- That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
posted by Holden at 8:28 AM on June 27, 2002


evanizer said: "But there are those of us agnostic deists who, while not supporting the idea of the spiritual reference, still disagree with the principle of the ruling of the 9th on principle."

I too disagree with the 9th on principle - my principle however is different than yours. This is truly NOT about the Pledge... or rather I should say JUST about the pledge. This is a small step in the right direction towards true separation of church and state. We are over two hundred years due for this discussion and serious change is called for.

Unfortunately, given the US government's nature to promote change that restores peace to the moral majority as opposed to doing the right thing, this as everything that bears true discussion, a hard, honest look at history and its true relevancy to today and a decision that benefits and includes all (which can be done in this case) will be swept under the rug.
posted by gloege at 8:29 AM on June 27, 2002


Re: Bush's comments in that NYT article

"and promised to appoint judges who affirm God's role in the public square."

It just keeps getting scarier and scarier.

"a confirmation of the fact that we received our rights from God as proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence.''

Maybe he doesn't understand what the Declaration is. It was a way to assert our independence and tell off Georgey-boy in no uncertain terms and dissolve our allegiance to the British crown. That our liberties are not granted to us by the monarchy. Also take into context the period and values of the time when considering the Declaration as a rallying point for asserting our liberties. What were they gonna say? "We affirm our faith in Zeus and the Pantheon of gods who reside at Mount Olympus." Yeah, that would've worked. Of course they would use God. They were Christians speaking to other Christians. It makes sense to say, "God granted you your liberty and no king can give it to you or take it away."

But the US Government is sure gonna try.
posted by mikhail at 8:34 AM on June 27, 2002


Oddovid, how is that the stongest rationale?

"Intrinsically endowed" seems fine by me.
posted by mblandi at 8:34 AM on June 27, 2002


["We need commonsense judges who understand that our rights were derived from God." ]

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..."

Bush is hardly making this stuff up!? It's pretty standard stuff really.
posted by revbrian at 8:35 AM on June 27, 2002


I'm surprised no one has used the "American Taliban" catch-phrase yet. In a lot of ways this just seems so ripe for it.
posted by joemaller at 8:35 AM on June 27, 2002


Uhhh Holden there was A REASON FOR THAT! We have yet to be a nation of political equality. Again I mention:

Eleven of the original thirteen colonies limited political office to Protestants for years even as exclusive establishments of religion were abolished. Is there any wonder to the prevalence of WASP moral idealism throughout our system of government and the overwhelming influence of Christianity in every political and national symbol be it financial, artistic or otherwise?

For more information, check this out.
posted by gloege at 8:36 AM on June 27, 2002


or i was just thinking you could have kids shout out whatever they want at that portion of the pledge :) or NOT!
posted by kliuless at 8:37 AM on June 27, 2002


"We need commonsense judges who understand that our rights were derived from God."

Maybe I didn't emphasize why I found this statement so interesting. It's the fact that he says it takes "common sense" to believe in God. Faith vs. reason are complementary, faith and reason are mutually exclusive, reasoning your way to faith, the power to reason is evidence of God's existence, etc. I just thought it was a fascinating soundbite.
posted by Tin Man at 8:40 AM on June 27, 2002


True, Tin Man: and I'd like to know how someone can 'understand' that his or her rights are derived from God.
posted by riviera at 8:46 AM on June 27, 2002


riviera-

Well, through common sense, silly. (sarcasm should be noted)
posted by bradth27 at 8:48 AM on June 27, 2002


I'm amazed at the frothing reaction in statements from congress (though not from the whitehouse). They all scream that the decision is wrong and stupid and what-not, but none of them say why they think that is so. I'm just waiting to hear that it's like the terrorists have already won, or for supreme court judgements to be labelled as terrorist acts.
posted by holycola at 8:52 AM on June 27, 2002


This whole debate could be avoided if we just follow the lead of P. Funk.
posted by dogwelder at 8:53 AM on June 27, 2002


"Bush is hardly making this stuff up!? It's pretty standard stuff really."

Yep, it's not that he's making stuff up, but he's using history out of context. Yes this country was founded by men who were Christians and who held a particular set of values. But these values are not exclusively Christian. Yes, this country took shape, and was set on its course by Christian men, but this country was not founded as a Christian nation.

The founding fathers, acting as parents of a new-born nation acted to instill not only values, but a logical and thoughtful process to governmental activities. They were not out to set up a theocracy in place of a monarchy.
posted by mikhail at 8:56 AM on June 27, 2002


Jesus, RJ, that's terrifying. Uh... thanks (?)
posted by Sapphireblue at 8:59 AM on June 27, 2002


Misdirection, folks...

Lawmaker #1: Man, the heat sure is heading northward on this War on Terror thing, and all of these accounting scandals aren't helping much.

Lawmaker #2: Yeah, if there was only something we could do to rally the country and get their minds off of our rampant incompetence.

Intern: Sir, did you what the 9th circuit ruled?

Pause

Lawmakers #1 and 2: Well I think we just found our huckleberry...
posted by fooljay at 9:00 AM on June 27, 2002


evanizer - "To what degree did the unspecific mention of the word God constitute a law regarding an establishment of religion? Not much."

That's the opinion to be debated isn't it?

I find it specific in a number of ways. I don't see God as a generic term here. Taking into account that it was a campaign by the Knights of Columbus that influenced the decision to add the words 'under God', I'd say it was very specific, which God they were talking about. It also sets up the idea of Monotheism. A very specific mention of a very specific idea. We can debate that Congress saw it as a generic and banal addition, but I hardly think that's the case.
posted by mikhail at 9:07 AM on June 27, 2002


evanizer: To what degree did the unspecific mention of the word God constitute a law regarding an establishment of religion? Not much.

Um. Congress shall make NO law. Doesn't say that they are allowed to make a law with a small degree of establishment, or that it's okay with just a little religion.... NO. That's an absolute.

Now, if the people want to be "Under God", they can change the Constitution, but I see that as a slope greased and pockmarked by airjets.....
posted by dwivian at 9:10 AM on June 27, 2002


Cold Chef, make sure that many races are represented
Attending grade school in La Habra California, this color photo you speak mirrored with my class pictures looks the same. I attended a private school which was in the 70's. Where else can you see "It's a small world."

By the way speaking of school, this one the founders, Birch Society(fit the mold). Then when I went to High School down the road, I never once said the pledge.

So is this a debate that will split both the democrat and the republican parties? Because I see it here already. Not that I'm aligned to one party's beliefs.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:10 AM on June 27, 2002


Boy, she had me fooled, did you see her apologize, to the speaker of the House, or did she say, "President"?
posted by thomcatspike at 9:15 AM on June 27, 2002


thomcatspike, you've lost me.
posted by Tin Man at 9:18 AM on June 27, 2002


Whoa, back up revbrian. 'Tis fine and good to reference the Declaration of Independence's endowment by creator but that is hardly relevant. The US federal government is empowered with a structure defined by the constitution. Following your link to the Constitution I have yet to find any reference to God, Creator, et al, but did find this little tid bit:
Before [the president] enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:--"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
No mention of using a Bible, raising a right hand or the phrase "so help me God".
posted by Dick Paris at 9:29 AM on June 27, 2002


thomcatspike: Senator Dianne Feinstein is one of the two Senators from California. The Vice President of the United States (Dick Cheney) serves as President of the Senate, so when the Senate is in session, members of that body will address him as "Mr. President."

If you ever watch one of our State of the Union addresses, you will hear the President of the United States address him as "Mr. President."

FYI.
posted by ebarker at 9:31 AM on June 27, 2002


Errr... enough useless bitching already! Be like Nathan: Write your Congresscritters and let them know how stupid you think they are.
posted by nathan_teske at 9:38 AM on June 27, 2002


ebarker, thank you, I was listening (mostly) on CNN, and I knew Bush was not present. I couldn't make out the figure in the chair, plus he did seem wider. I was just thrown for a loop, with all of it.
Maybe I needed to say the pledge in High school.
Tinman, lost on this post, or the 1st?
posted by thomcatspike at 9:40 AM on June 27, 2002


Hey, Mr Kit Bond, the 'founding fathers' were pretty happy without the 'under God' reference for a couple hundred years until 1954, so I highly doubt they're spinning in their graves.
posted by timyang at 9:41 AM on June 27, 2002


Tinman: Maybe I didn't emphasize why I found this statement so interesting. It's the fact that he says it takes "common sense" to believe in God. Faith vs. reason are complementary, faith and reason are mutually exclusive, reasoning your way to faith, the power to reason is evidence of God's existence, etc. I just thought it was a fascinating soundbite.

You're mistaking the notion of "common sense" for reason or logic. "Sense," after all, is feeling - closer to faith than logic. In fact, every time I've heard the term "common sense" used, it's been in reference to something that everyone simply knows, regardless of whether or not there was any rational evidence for it.

I'm not suggesting that our President is one to split such semantic hairs. But... "I'm a lawyer; that's my job... that's what I do." (tip o' the hat to Keanu Reeves in Devil's Advocate)
posted by mikewas at 9:42 AM on June 27, 2002


Yes timyang, but what president has said it in school? I agree with you, and I think the senate too. And your point supports the money issue. But like I mentioned in yesterdays thread, did your parents, grandparents, great and so forth do this?
posted by thomcatspike at 9:46 AM on June 27, 2002


just change god to dog :) problem solved!

hmm..."...under dog..."
i rebel, i refute, i take issue. I think of our democratic roots: Greece, that lovable and great culture which flourishes today. And when thinking greek, i think of Homer, our first democratic scribe; that whacky blind guy...so i think of homer and dogs and can only think of Argus. Poor Argus. His devotion, his love and quiet watch for his master to return. Argus should have been put in a kennel.(get off the docks, mingle) so, I think of..."one nation, under dog" (Argus).....and wonder if this could have been the first animal rights violation recorded.
{the end}

This new ruling seems another backlash to 'Our' response to "godless communism". Sometimes it is the right thing to stick to your guns and not change something simply out of fear for supposed 'Godless' people. (I'd fear the them T class tanks in 54')
am i a commie for not wanting it changed then?
was communism that bad that we would place god into our pledge. (private view, shoulda been there in first place)
perhaps it was. perhaps building more and better was not enough. Is this a prelude to an orthodox, state sponsored religion, paid for with your tax dollars. I guess history has its say there. Though this new school voucher ruling is interesting but a different ruling in the same issue.

so why try and challenge what was not really challenged then.
[anyone catch that red skelton skit on artbell]
posted by clavdivs at 9:46 AM on June 27, 2002


so much for checks and balances. sigh.
posted by centrs at 9:47 AM on June 27, 2002


Um. Congress shall make NO law
WORD. this is a fact. But we have the power to amend our constitution, therefore enabling change to occur within a referendum. (in theory)
so one cannot make said law, but one can invalidate that law or amend it.
posted by clavdivs at 9:52 AM on June 27, 2002


Thankfully the SC had the balls to make such a ruling.

My bad Adampsyche. They all seem to blend in together after awhile.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:55 AM on June 27, 2002


I'd be more than happy if they just made god lower case.

Because I'm sorry, we all know they mean Christian God when it's capitalized, just like Christian hymns capitalize Him and You.

I know that we capitalized Creator and God in the Dec of Independence, but we also capitalized Nature back then. We were just a bunch of capitalizing fools.

And drinkcoffee, you're right. If I remember my political philosophy Locke's first bit in the second treatise was saying "If God didn't give us all these rights, we'd have them anyways."
posted by witchycal at 9:55 AM on June 27, 2002


well, what was originally a small victory for people tired of christian fascism will no doubt be spun around by the bush camp as an excuse to put more right wing robots in the courts.

I'm beginning to think more and more each day that the conservatives really are the enemy!
posted by mcsweetie at 10:03 AM on June 27, 2002


Not surprised here. American politicians need to sell God and religion as much as politics to their constitiuents to come close to getting elected. That's why we have a supposed non-political Supreme Court.
posted by skallas at 10:05 AM on June 27, 2002


The fact that congress has to jump in line to save their asses is precisely why we shouldn't have reference to religion in our government.
posted by mblandi at 10:13 AM on June 27, 2002


This whole debacle is a crock of shit. The first amendment says this: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." and as far as I can tell, that's about all it says about religion.

In what way does having a pledge of allegiance violate the constitution? The pledge of allegiance neither establishes a religion nor prohibits anyone from exercising it. You can't even be forced to say the pledge if you don't want to. The notion that this guy's 2nd grader was somehow being injured just by hearing the word "God" is just trumped-up bullshit to get the case into federal court, where it wastes all of our time and money. Are we turning into a nation of such enervated neurotics that simply hearing the word "God" causes irreparable damage to a kid? One wonders if the whole thing wasn't a ploy by incumbent Congressmen needing a null issue to be passionate about.
posted by vraxoin at 10:20 AM on June 27, 2002


... with liberty for just us (christians) NOT all.
posted by jojomnky at 10:23 AM on June 27, 2002


The Virginia Declaration of Rights is an interesting read.

"Virginia's Declaration of Rights was drawn upon by Thomas Jefferson for the opening paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence. It was widely copied by the other colonies and became the basis of the Bill of Rights."

Section 1 states:

That all men are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

It's only Section 16 that speaks of God and Creator. Seems more an afterthought though. As if to say, "After all, we are good Christian men."
posted by mikhail at 10:23 AM on June 27, 2002


skallas wrote:
American politicians need to sell God and religion as much as politics to their constitiuents to come close to getting elected. That's why we have a supposed non-political Supreme Court.

And now judges can do it, too.

mikewas wrote:
You're mistaking the notion of "common sense" for reason or logic. "Sense," after all, is feeling - closer to faith than logic. In fact, every time I've heard the term "common sense" used, it's been in reference to something that everyone simply knows, regardless of whether or not there was any rational evidence for it.

I don't know... I would say that "common sense" does refer to reason. It's common sense that you don't cross the street at a red light because you'll get hit by a car if you do. It's common sense that you don't insult your boss in public, or else you'll get fired. These are all rational-based ideas, cause and effect.


But... "I'm a lawyer; that's my job... that's what I do."

Hehehe... me too... :-)
posted by Tin Man at 10:27 AM on June 27, 2002


...every time I've heard the term "common sense" used, it's been in reference to something that everyone simply knows, regardless of whether or not there was any rational evidence for it.

By that definition, the term is misused far more often than it is used correctly. There are very few things that would indisputably fit that bill--perhaps an awareness of the effects of gravity. The larger problem is the number of people who assume that something which they happen to believe is "common sense," in the sense that it's something "everyone simply knows," when in fact, it is simply something they happen to believe and they presume too much about its universality.
posted by rushmc at 10:29 AM on June 27, 2002


vraxoin - "The pledge of allegiance neither establishes a religion nor prohibits anyone from exercising it."

You quoted the relevant argument from the Constitution.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..."

Appending 'under God' to the Pledge of Allegiance respects the establishment of Monotheism, the belief that there is only one God. This puts Congress' actions and the Pledge of Allegiance in direct conflict with the First Amendment.
posted by mikhail at 10:31 AM on June 27, 2002


"You can't even be forced to say the pledge if you don't want to."

vraxoin, maybe you missed this graphic from the other thread.
posted by Dick Paris at 10:32 AM on June 27, 2002


rushmc:
And that, my friends, is why America, as currently practiced, is no longer America, as conceived. I suppose the current open disregard for the Constitution is the next logical step for a nation that has strayed so far from its defining principles.

Well, actually....you should take a look at the say, the "people's history of the united states" or some other books that look at our history a little more critically. I firmly believe that our current getup grows ever closer to being exactly what the founding fathers wanted..

I'm not going to dig up sources right now, but it is widely understood that the FF, in fact, wanted to limit the power of the common man, and keep the power in the hands of rich, white, landowning males. Seems to me that's where the power is...

(slightly OT)Freedom of the press, for example, was guaranteed because back then only rich people had presses. It has only been through the wisdom of numerous supreme court ruling that we have gained something closer to true freedom of speech. 'Course, all it took was a bunch of madmen with boxcutters to take that away...
posted by jaded at 10:34 AM on June 27, 2002


Is it just me, or is everyone getting distracted by specifics? The presence of "under God" in a Pledge supported by federal statute simply violates the idea of an areligious state. The government cannot meddle in religion (which, methinks, is a personal affair only), and that's that.

Thanks for that nytimes piece - it made me ill. :/ I think what bothers me most is that this issue is bringing our politicians' disrespect for church/state separation crawling out into the daylight, and nobody seems to care!

Er. Present company excluded.
posted by Ravagin at 10:34 AM on June 27, 2002


I couldn't make out the figure in the chair... I think it was the black hood with the skull and crossbones that threw me off.
posted by Mack Twain at 10:36 AM on June 27, 2002


In what way does having a pledge of allegiance violate the constitution? The pledge of allegiance neither establishes a religion nor prohibits anyone from exercising it.

By requiring the pledge to be said every day in school (no, they can't force every kid to say it, but it was a law that it be said every school day), the government established and endorsed a religion. The pledge, as it is, is a patriotic prayer. But it's a prayer nonetheless. And by making its recitation a law, the goverment established religion in the classroom.
posted by jennak at 10:36 AM on June 27, 2002


There was a good discussion of the decision in Slate yesterday.

Also, the New York Times editoral (condemning the ruling) was pretty good as well.
posted by boltman at 10:39 AM on June 27, 2002


vraxoin:
In what way does having a pledge of allegiance violate the constitution? The pledge of allegiance neither establishes a religion nor prohibits anyone from exercising it. You can't even be forced to say the pledge if you don't want to

Here's how: the statement "under god" dictates belief in a singular super-being named god. There are a number of states where reciting the pledge is, in fact, mandatory. By making the statement mandatory, you are telling people that they must believe in a singular super-being named god. That's a constitutional no-no.

In addition, when someone get's their citizenship, they are also required to say the pledge of allegiance. This means that to become a citizen of this fine nation, you must profess you belief in a singular superpower named god.

As pointed out previously, you'd probably feel different if you were compelled to say "under mohammed" or "under vishnu" or "under satan" or "under no one" instead.

There's also the issue of a compulsion to pledge allegiance *period*. That smacks of propagandic fascism.
posted by jaded at 10:44 AM on June 27, 2002


NY Gov. Paturkey sez: "It's junk justice."

More like it: cramming "under god" into the pledge in the first place was junk religion.
posted by k.43 at 10:47 AM on June 27, 2002


Interesting how many leftists are crying about the constitution now (as well they should!), but hardly raise an eyebrow over violations against the second amendment etc...
posted by dagny at 10:48 AM on June 27, 2002


There are a number of states where reciting the pledge is, in fact, mandatory

This has already been said a dozen times in the two threads but people apparently aren't reading the threads before posting: Since 1943 it has been unconstitutional for public schools to require students to recite the pledge.

As I said before, I think this ruling is going to get overturned by SCOTUS (if not the 9th Circuit itself en banc) as soon as it is possible to do so. I'll go further and predict it will be reveresed 9-0.
posted by boltman at 10:52 AM on June 27, 2002


Errr... enough useless bitching already! Be like Nathan: Write your Congresscritters and let them know how stupid you think they are.

Most important thing said in this entire thread.
posted by rushmc at 10:53 AM on June 27, 2002


Boltman -
Yes. An excellent editorial, and though I don't know if I agree fully, it's probably the best-reasoned argument against the ruling that I've yet read.
posted by Ravagin at 10:58 AM on June 27, 2002


How on earth can the moral absolute of the equality, rights, and responsibilities of man be extracted without some sort of religious belief?
posted by aaronshaf at 11:16 AM on June 27, 2002


And that, my friends, is why America, as currently practiced, is no longer America, as conceived. I suppose the current open disregard for the Constitution is the next logical step for a nation that has strayed so far from its defining principles

Yeah, where's my slaves? I bet if FDR were around he'd tell the court what to think!

This just feels like the flag-burning issue all over again. Everyone so passionate now about a pledge thats been around most of our lifetimes. Maybe if everyone ignores this issue, Congress can get back to work. Classic misdirection.
posted by vacapinta at 11:28 AM on June 27, 2002


I don't know if the the pledge violates the establishment clause, but, as a Christian, I think it definitely violates the prohibition clause. Because the use of "under God" and "in God we trust" and other instances of "procedural deism" as the effect of trivializing religion and making it something kids joke about. I want God language out of the schools and the government because they cheapen it.
posted by straight at 11:29 AM on June 27, 2002


How on earth can the moral absolute of the equality, rights, and responsibilities of man be extracted without some sort of religious belief?

It is amazing that people managed to get this 3,000 years ago and we are still having trouble with the concept of rights not derived from a divine creator. Take your pick:

1: Arguments that the equality, rights and responsibilities stem from humankind's unique position in the universe as rational creatures (for example Buddhism).

2: Arguments that equality, rights and responsibilities are part of a universal ideal way of organizing society.

3: Arguments that the recognition that each individual human being is uncountably more precious than diamonds (because each human is a unique and temporary event in the history of the universe) requires a social system based on equality, rights and responsibilities.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:32 AM on June 27, 2002


When were all these laws happening:
Since 1943 it has been unconstitutional for public schools to require students to recite the pledge.

That's right. It was only added in 1954. The original version of the pledge was penned back in 1892 and read thus:


What was the difference in the mood of the nation, form 1948 to 1954? Or even 1784 to 1892.
Maybe the control freaks thought we would be red, those that attended school thereafter. I know a World War just ended. Mistakes happen, constitutional or not. Talk about constitutional and amendments to it, we can argue taxes(please no). A lot of people could really careless what they learned or did in school, so I'm told now a days.

How many of you would like to change a post or two in Meta.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:38 AM on June 27, 2002


aaronshaf: How on earth can the moral absolute of the equality, rights, and responsibilities of man be extracted without some sort of religious belief?

Religion vs. Morality
posted by dagny at 11:43 AM on June 27, 2002


Our New Atheistic Pledge of Allegiance?
P. Andrew Sandlin | Purging the Pledge of God
posted by aaronshaf at 11:50 AM on June 27, 2002


Those who keep pointing out that kids aren't required to say the pledge may not have taught in schools recently. This is how the Pledge plays out in the schools where I've taught:

Kids are told to stand up. They are told to hold their right hand up, then put it over their heart. Any student who ignores these directions is scolded and potentially punished. Then the pledge begins. Depending on the teacher, those who do not mouth the words may be scolded/punished more.

Though the Supreme Court says kids can't be required to say the Pledge, in practice they are required. Legislating that the Pledge is mandatory means everyone participates, whether by standing up or putting one's hand on their heart or reciting the words. You can't sit it out, even if you have legitimate religious reasons for doing so.
posted by neuroshred at 11:56 AM on June 27, 2002


How on earth can the moral absolute of the equality, rights, and responsibilities of man be extracted without some sort of religious belief?

"People don't do right because of the fear of God or love of him. You do the right thing because the world doesn't make sense if you don't."

Dorothy Allison, Bastard Out of Carolina.

Careful there, aaronshaf, we atheists get *awfully* fucking irritated when religious people walk around insinuating that none of us have any morals.
posted by Sapphireblue at 11:57 AM on June 27, 2002


dagny, the problem with that site and its assertions:

Sure, it's important to reason things out, and often religion is a cheap way out for many, but people can rationalize anything without presuppositions. This goes for the inequality of man, hatred, voluntary human extinction, etc. Logic without presupposition, constructivism, doesn't get us anywhere like the constitution.

The principles upon which the constitution were based were reasoned, yes, but they were reasoned from a dogma: that all men were created equal. That is an absolute/religious principle. You just can't escape religion/dogma/absolutes and keep human equality, rights, and responsibilities.

Sapphireblue, I am certain that you have morals. Everyone does, including atheists. I'm just saying that absolute morality, especially the principles of the constitution, doesn't make any sense without some sort of authoritative truth to deduce from, such as a religious principle.
posted by aaronshaf at 12:01 PM on June 27, 2002


So do the agnostics although it is up for grabs if we get MORE irritated than the atheists... Great quote Sapphireblue!
posted by gloege at 12:03 PM on June 27, 2002


aaronshaf said " I'm just saying that absolute morality, especially the principles of the constitution, doesn't make any sense without some sort of authoritative truth to deduce from, such as a religious principle."

Okay fine but who gets do decide what sort of authoritative truth is deduced? Why does it HAVE to be religious principle? Are you stating that we cannot have a moral and just society without religion? May I start listing the religious hypocrites for you in our government alone? Just because you go to church and confess/pray/regret/whatever on a Sunday or two or every does NOT make you moral nor does it excuse the ludicrous/immoral/unethical behavior perfomed every other day of the week.
posted by gloege at 12:07 PM on June 27, 2002


There's lots of "freedom of religion" talk going on right now here on MetaFilter, as well as all over the country. Can I get a heaping helping of "freedom from religion", please?

IMNSHO there is no such thing as "seperation of Church and State", and I don't think there really ever has been. I agree that it's time that our lawmakers get in gear and recognize that there is a significant percentage of us that either do not believe in their god and/or any other deity for that matter.

Words and phrases like "In God We Trust", "One Nation, Under God...", and the like, which are seen and heard everywhere, are just another avenue for the Christians in power to try to inch their way into our lives and our homes. I, for one, am sick of it.

Oh yeah, and whomever said not saying "Under God" in the pledge would offend veterans is just being silly. I'm a veteran and I'm not offended at all! Christian veterans might be, but don't lump us all together.

Now I don't care if you believe in God, Shiva, Zeus, Allah, or the Tooth Fairy. You want to believe in something? Fine, have a good time and don't hurt anyone else in the process. But don't make me try to believe in it. Don't make hold accountable to your moralistic ideology. Don't try to push what you believe onto me. I don't try to affiliate you with agnosticism, don't try and make me affliliated with your belief.

Is that so hard?
posted by crankydoodle at 12:10 PM on June 27, 2002


"You just can't escape religion/dogma/absolutes and keep human equality, rights, and responsibilities."

You certainly can, as long as you are not discussing the topic with a Christian or those of other religions who believe that all life and all morality flows from God.
posted by mikhail at 12:10 PM on June 27, 2002


Woah, what a major pile of inconsistencies in that post.

“Religious establishment” equals an established church, like the Church of England. Congress is forbidden to establish a national church.

How do you establish a church? Your coerce everyone to make a loyalty oath to your church is one step.

The Pledge of Allegiance (drafted, incidentally, by the flaming socialist Francis Bellamy) speaks of one nation “under God” (the phrase itself was added in the '50s) — the Christian God, and the only God the vast majority of Americans would (could) have had in mind at the time, even if many of them were not Christians themselves.

Which is an interesting point of view given that the New Testament both condemns public displays of piety for the sake of appearance, but perhaps more importantly, it is quite a bit more explicit in condemning the ownership of land than about homosexuality. The book of Acts does not provide any loopholes. If you are a Christian, you must sell everything you own and place it in common.

Removing “under God” from the Pledge does not create a religiously neutral pledge; it simply substitutes a secular religion for the Christian religion.

The universal fallacy of fundamentalist nitwits. Not mentioning a religion equates to promoting a "secular religion" (a blatant oxymoron and a big lie, but those promoting religious establishment are not known for either their great wits, or their honesty.)

Some Christians are wary about pledging allegiance to the flag, since they believe this act may compromise their allegiance to God. In any case, every pledge to the symbol of a state is a religious act, and it is not somehow less religious because it is secular.

Which is one reason why honest Christians have tended to oppose the pledge. Because it is an echo of the loyalty oaths to King and Church that were critical to the Reformation and the scism from the Church of England.

But of course, if you want to serve two masters there is no reason why you could not say the pledge. In fact, the pledge only means anything if you do it voluntarily and spontaneously of your own free will. It would mean even more if you chose to compose your own pledge on the spot rather than mubling the canned words of a loyalty oath that had more to do with politics than patriotism or religion. What it does mean is that you can't use school events as your own pulpit to express your own liturgy.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:12 PM on June 27, 2002


I don't know about anybody else, but I find the universe to be quite authoritative. If I jump off of a building, I get hurt. If I jump in a lake, I get wet.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:17 PM on June 27, 2002


gloege,

"Okay fine but who gets do decide what sort of authoritative truth is deduced?"
- Democracy does

Why does it HAVE to be religious principle?
- If you want human equality, rights, and responsibilities, it has to be an authoritative principle, which is the nature of religion. Constructive rationality doesn't come to such principles without some sort of predefined presupposition.

Are you stating that we cannot have a moral and just society without religion?
- I am saying that you cannot base a nation off of a religious principle, i.e. human quality, rights, and responsibilities, with a religious principle. Again, mere logic without base precepts (or "dogma") doesn't necessitate the principles of the constitution.

May I start listing the religious hypocrites for you in our government alone?
- What??? What does hypocrisy have to do with this? Men may be hypocrites, but they are hypocrites to a standard. We are discussing a standard, not the success or failure of men to abide by it. Without standards hypocrisy really doesn't matter now, does it?

Just because you go to church and confess/pray/regret/whatever on a Sunday or two or every does NOT make you moral nor does it excuse the ludicrous/immoral/unethical behavior perfomed every other day of the week.
- Don't judge me, you don't know me. I really don't get you. You are angry at those who have a firm philosophical foundation for virtues, where on the other hand, "without God, everything is permissible." The "sinfulness" of hypocrisy is extracted from a virtue based on a religious principle. Pragmatic hypocrisy could be rationalized with baseless, atheistic reasoning.

Shoot me an e-mail sometime at aaron@aarondot.com. This makes for interesting conversation.
posted by aaronshaf at 12:24 PM on June 27, 2002


I don't know about anybody else, but I find the universe to be quite authoritative. If I jump off of a building, I get hurt. If I jump in a lake, I get wet.

And if I cut in line, I can get the last ticket to the movie. And if I move all our company's manufacturing jobs to sweatshops, I get a massive performance bonus. And if I kill off the natives, I get their land. And if I spoof Verisign with a fake letterhead, I get your domain name.

You're right! It works!
posted by straight at 12:26 PM on June 27, 2002


So
Believe in God: I pledge allegiance, literally to a flag,
"under god" when doing this.

Atheist, Agnostic, or neither: I pledge allegiance, literally where?
......and as a kid would surely banter, "underwear" (pants for those overseas). Joke was for both sides. ;)
posted by thomcatspike at 12:27 PM on June 27, 2002


This seems to be a deceive issue about nothing. Where the Federal Government draws the line between is an important issue, but this instance it seems like a foolish debate. Is saying a few words in the pledge oppressive? Does it force one to feel ashamed to not believe in a God other than Christ? Does it make one feel bad about not believing in God? I guess I'm agnostic or at least someone who believes in God, but is pretty sure Mankind has no idea the true nature of such an entity. With this being said, I feel no uneasiness or oppression in saying “under God.” Same goes for the “In God We Trust” on our dollar bills. Who even looks at that? To fight over it is a waste of time and energy. We should chose our battles and fight the battles that really count. For example, we should speed our energy fighting those who seek to bring back school prayer. Or, we should fight theocratic politicians with no regard for the Constitution who attempt to be elected to office (i.e. most of the Bush Administration).

To fight over nominal issues such as the pledge of allegiance and the phrase on the dollar bill just obscure the issues and waste valuable time and energy.

P.S. thomcatspike makes a good point.
posted by Bag Man at 12:37 PM on June 27, 2002


aaronshaf - I don't agree with your apparent interpretation of the all men are created equal line. The equality doesn't flow from divine gift in fact it is quite the opposite. Keep in mind that what Jefferson was rallying against was the dominant view at the time that power was extended from God to the King (or through the church to the King), and that any rights that the subjects had came as a gift from the King.

What Jefferson was saying was no, we do not accept that any one person by right of their birth or position is to be raised above another. All people have equal, possibly even absolute, rights. It is not up to leaders to grant rights. It is up to the individuals en masse to give up or extend dominion of those rights to their leaders.

The cold reality is that mite makes right. If I want your food, and I'm strong or crafty enough, then I can take it and it will be mine. That doesn't make for a very efficient society though, so we collectively agree to have our rights limited because what we get as a group is more than what we could get individually. It is only through this collective agreement that our rights can be limited - otherwise they are absolute to the extent of our strengths and abilities.

You don't need any God to make this work. You only need collective acceptance that it is a better way than anarchy.
posted by willnot at 12:46 PM on June 27, 2002


If you cut in line, you can get the last ticket to a movie. If someone cuts in front of you in line, you lose out on a ticket. You might be inclined to kick that guy's ass or otherwise exact retribution upon him; repeated millions of times, this sort of thing can lead to a very chaotic society and unhappy people. Wouldn't it be better if we all greed not to cut in line, and established sufficient punishment as to deter people from cutting in line, and put forth a remedy to alleviate those who are victimized by line-cutting? Everyone benefits if no one cuts in line, and it has nothing to do with any God. God only exists because some people can not be convinced by any other means that they should stop cutting in line.
posted by donkeymon at 12:58 PM on June 27, 2002


Bag Man, at what point is the 'battle' worth fighting to you? If you say no harm no foul now, and yet down the road, someone uses it as precedent to establish something that you now see as oppressive, then that earlier 'battle' that you didn't fight becomes relevant now doesn't it? When is it worth challenging? Great quote at the bottom of this article:
"In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up." —Martin Niemoeller (1892-1984)
posted by mikhail at 12:59 PM on June 27, 2002


mikhail,

It's a question of degrees. I can assure you there no holocaust going here. That was foolish and irresponsible comparison.
posted by Bag Man at 1:03 PM on June 27, 2002


mikhail,

It's a question of degrees. I can assure you there no holocaust going here. Your comparison is foolish and irresponsible.
posted by Bag Man at 1:04 PM on June 27, 2002


I was hardly comparing it to the holocaust. More making the analogy that if you choose not to challenge something when it first presents itself, you may find yourself unable to challenge it at a later date because it has become entrenched. You may now come down off your high horse.
posted by mikhail at 1:14 PM on June 27, 2002


Our public schools are for the most part open to noncitizen children of immigrants. Should we be making them swear loyalty oaths? If your American family moved to Albania, to choose a totally random example, and you went to public school, would you pledge allegiance to the flag of Albania?

The entire pledge is exclusive. It means the most to those for whom "liberty and justice" was never an uphill battle to begin with.

The Court of Appeals' ruling is a tiny victory in a war that we have lost long ago. If you think I am being too melodramatic, you may have heard this spoken about a year and a half ago:

Almighty God, the supply and supplier of peace, prudent policy and nonpartisanship, we bless Your holy
and righteous name. Thank you, oh God, for blessing us with forgiveness, with faith and with favor.

[...]

We respectfully submit this humble prayer in the name that's above all other names, Jesus the Christ. Let all who agree say amen.


Spoken to a congregation at a Southern Baptist chapel? Nope - by the Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, at George W. Bush's inauguration, Jan 20, 2001.
posted by PrinceValium at 1:18 PM on June 27, 2002


Should we be making them swear loyalty oaths?

Nobody is making anyone do anything, at least not under color of law.

princevalium: I believe that the political branches are somehwat immune from the establishment clause simply because the Court is (justifiably) reluctant to tell the other branches how they should conduct their business. If Bush had wanted to have faith healing and an alter call at his inarguration he probably could have. Actually, come to think of it, that would have been a lot more entertaining than what we got.
posted by boltman at 1:31 PM on June 27, 2002


How on earth can the moral absolute of the equality, rights, and responsibilities of man be extracted without some sort of religious belief?

I might equally ask, "How can you possibly ask that?" I shudder to think that so many of my fellow human beings rely upon being TOLD what to think and what moral values to hold, rather than arriving at them for themselves.
posted by rushmc at 1:40 PM on June 27, 2002


Everyone so passionate now about a pledge thats been around most of our lifetimes.

To use your own argument, slavery had also been around for the entire lifetimes of the people who put an end to it. Are you seriously proposing that if a wrong goes unrighted long enough that the moral obligation to right it dissipates?!
posted by rushmc at 1:42 PM on June 27, 2002


Our New Atheistic Pledge of Allegiance?

Oh, now it's "atheistic," is it? Do tell, how does not mentioning god equal a statement that he does not exist? I notice Michael Jordan is also overlooked in the Pledge of Allegiance...are millions of schoolchildren denying his existence every morning? Egad!
posted by rushmc at 1:46 PM on June 27, 2002


I believe that the political branches are somehwat immune from the establishment clause

Huh? Doesn't "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" expressly make political branches NOT immune from the establishment clause?

If Bush had wanted to have faith healing and an alter call at his inarguration he probably could have.

Last I checked, inaugurations are not coronations. The latter being subject to the whim of a monarch, the former being subservient to the constitutional process. The prayer at GWB's inauguration (and all others, to be fair) was a disgusting perversion of the rule of law.

(As was the election that put him there, but I won't be snarky for its own sake.)
posted by PrinceValium at 1:53 PM on June 27, 2002


God only exists because some people can not be convinced by any other means that they should stop cutting in line.

Heh...that's excellent.
posted by rushmc at 1:56 PM on June 27, 2002


I might equally ask, "How can you possibly ask that?" I shudder to think that so many of my fellow human beings rely upon being TOLD what to think and what moral values to hold, rather than arriving at them for themselves.

I do too, but I'm a Christian, and I would liken it more to finding the truth. We just don't look at it the same way. If God exists, and His commands are in the Bible, it seems natural that we are obligated to obey. It doesn't horrify me in the least.

I get horrified when people claim they have the truth and begin bossing people around like they have a special in with God.

.. I think I need to come up with some good athiest jokes to counter all the trashing of Christianity in this thread... (not that its all unwarranted, mind you, but balance is always good, and this thread is decidedly unbalanced)
posted by insomnyuk at 2:13 PM on June 27, 2002


This whole thing gave me a headache...

I'm inclined to agree with vacapinta about the flag-burning comparisons. Listening to the Congressmen, I feel like Bill Hicks right now:

"Wait, did the Supreme Court say we have to burn our flags?"
"No, no, no, no, NO!"
"Well, I don't get it, I don't want to burn my flag."
"THEN DON'T!!"

Argh. It's something that should've been done, but it's also somethign that's going to cause more problems than it should by stirring all these "godless nation" fears back up again... damn it.
posted by nath at 2:18 PM on June 27, 2002


9th Circuit stays Pledge ruling

Well, it was fun while it lasted.
posted by boltman at 2:21 PM on June 27, 2002


It requires balls and a certain amount of believing in something not apparent to be christian today, compliments insomnyuk.
posted by elpapacito at 2:21 PM on June 27, 2002


I have no problem with people who want to obey God's laws. By and large they are good laws (or they wouldn't have been around this long) and our country was founded specifically on the premise of guaranteeing the right to obey them. However, that does not mean that anyone should be compelled to obey them. As far as I know, there is nothing in the Bible, for instance, that says "11. That shalt not allow anyone else to break these laws either." God is the ultimate and sole arbiter of his laws, and anyone (other than God, who I assume is not reading this page) who messes around with enforcing them is on perilous ground indeed. There seems to be a great deal of intersection between God's laws and the US laws, but they are not one and the same. They law must make room for people who do not follow God's laws because God said so, but because it turns out to be the best thing to do for humanity anyway.
posted by donkeymon at 2:38 PM on June 27, 2002


I get horrified when people claim they have the truth and begin bossing people around like they have a special in with God.

Which, of course, is the basis of this whole situation.
posted by rushmc at 2:55 PM on June 27, 2002


was hardly comparing it to the holocaust. More making the analogy that if you choose not to challenge something when it first presents itself, you may find yourself unable to challenge it at a later date because it has become entrenched. You may now come down off your high horse.

You have completely missed my point. Perhaps I should dumb my point down to make it more clear...I am a staunch advocate of the Establishment Clause and the separation of church and state. However, there are better ways to approach this issue and efficient and effective ways to press for our freedom and liberty. Why waste time on the pledge and dollar bill while many states and Circuit Courts still allow mandatory and overt school prayer? Why not focus our energy on making sure Aschroft and Bush obey and protect the Constitution?This is a war worth fighting and it is worth fight now, just on other grounds and in other battles.

This is, I believe, why the Dems sided with the Republicans on this issue. Strategically there are better ways to protect the separation of church and state. Fighting this battle may do more harm (as in rally the conservatives like the Christian Coalition and "moral majority") that good (My money is on the Supreme Court overturning the 9th District).
posted by Bag Man at 3:05 PM on June 27, 2002


I get horrified when people claim they have the truth and begin bossing people around like they have a special in with God.

Yet you already mention his 'commands' in the Bible. Well, the bible says a lot of interesting stuff. Interpretation, mental editing, and which rules to keep and not to keep (ever read the original commandments) means someone has a special in with god. You're a follower of whoever made these decisions which more or less define your brand or Xianity. If you're not a member of a church then you're the one with the special in here.

No matter how you slice it, someone has to speak for the deities. Its not just the crazy fundamentalists who know what god wants and how it should be done.
posted by skallas at 3:17 PM on June 27, 2002


Why waste time on the pledge and dollar bill while many states and Circuit Courts still allow mandatory and overt school prayer?

To establish a precedent? to begin to educate an appallingly ignorant American public? to regain some of the ground that has been lost over the years to religious encroachment? because it's the right thing to do and engaging on one front does not disqualify one from engaging simultaneously on others?

If a man is burglarizing homes, do you look the other way and wait until he knocks over a bank to protest his illegal behavior?
posted by rushmc at 3:29 PM on June 27, 2002


Valium: I checked and I was pretty much right: The Supreme Court ruled in Marsh v. Chambers (1983) that legislative prayer was Constitutional. Presumably that doctrine would extend to the president as well.

There is a reasonably decent analysis of the differences between the school prayer cases and the legislative prayer cases here, if you want to learn more.
posted by boltman at 3:29 PM on June 27, 2002


Adding a little levity to the situation... I kinda like SatireWire's piece on the whole thing. :)

Ok. Back to your regularly scheduled discussions.
posted by aine42 at 3:32 PM on June 27, 2002


Just a wee bit more levity ...

"I plead alignment to the flake of the untitled snakes of a merry cow, and to the Republicans for which they scam, one nacho, underpants, invisible, with licorice and jugs of wine for owls."

-- Bongo, via Matt Groening
posted by chuq at 3:37 PM on June 27, 2002


Some more levity...oh, wait, that's not at all funny...

Both houses of Congress start each working day with the pledge, but typically only a few lawmakers are in the chambers to recite it.

"We acknowledge the separation of sectarianism and state, but affirm the belief that there is no separation between God and state," Senate Chaplain Lloyd Ogilvie said in Thursday's morning prayer.

The Senate floor and partly filled visitors galleries were hushed as Ogilvie proclaimed, "We are one Senate, united under you, to lead a nation that is free to say confidently, 'In God we trust."'

posted by rushmc at 3:49 PM on June 27, 2002


You have completely missed my point.

Not at all. I challenged your point and its logic. Let me clarify where I take issue with your point.

You claim that you are a "staunch advocate of the Establishment Clause and the separation of church and state" and then you backpeddle because you view the issue as nominal. In your words it is "a waste of time and energy" and there are more "efficient and effective ways to press for our freedom and liberty". Perhaps you don't understand the definition of staunch.

You seem to prefer fighting battles that are easily won or are more easily supported. In your 'staunch' outlook this "foolish debate" only "obscures the issue". An issue that you claim should be fighting "theocratic politicians with no regard for the Constitution". Well with every politician spewing their rhetoric from the mountaintops I'm surprised you can't see that this is exactly the fight taking shape. Will it rally the Christian Coalition and moral majority? I'm sure it will—I'm sure it already has. I say let it. Then shine the light on them. Show them for the oppressive, tyrannical, theocrats they are. It is as good a place to take a stand as any. If you don't see that, perhaps you are not as 'staunch' as you think you are.

"Perhaps I should dumb my point down to make it more clear..."

No need. It was dumb enough. Thanks though. =)
posted by mikhail at 4:19 PM on June 27, 2002


For those that believe in God. Ask yourself, does he need you. Or do we need him.
Meaning w/o the word of God in our country, are we denying Him respect. This is my issue with Bush, he needs God, not, God needing him. Yes, I voted for him my business, yet I have looked towards no man on earth.
We all have feet of clay.
The only reason I think we have been a client nation, is religious freedoms. Even God gives you a choice, called a volition.
Don't debate think. Why is everything so personal, or PC.
Now, were doomed for a bolt of lightning.........lookout folks.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:54 PM on June 27, 2002


1943: Nazi Germany was forcing its citizens to recite a pledge. The United States looked rather silly forcing its citizens to recite a pledge, because most of western europe doesn't have anything like it. Hand up in the air, hand over heart, you can get the comparison.

Did any of you have as classmates a Jehovah Witness? Did you look at them as though they were a total freak? For all of high school I didn't say the pledge, but still stood. Then when the gulf war started I just didn't feel that I could support the war, and/or the pledge. My homeroom became patriotic with puffed out chests and near yells. I stayed sitting and the boy next to me (between stanzas) started yelling, "get up, get up" and then he kicked me. I got sent to the principal's office and got detention. Yes, it is illegal to force children to say the pledge; but I don't like that our country thinks it has to brainwash it's citizens from the time they are small children through repetition in order to make the people who live here ally themselves with it. It feels pretty weak.
posted by goneill at 5:06 AM on June 28, 2002


No need. It was dumb enough. Thanks though. =)

mikhail,

I guess you'd rather insult me than understand my point. If you got down off your high horse and entered the real world you would realize that strategy is every as bit as important as message.

I also take exception with accusations that I'm not an advocate of the separation of church and state. I have made great pains to assert that I oppose school prayer and other such things. Just because you and I happen to disagree on the best way to effectuate the Establishment clause doesn't mean I support it any more than you do. I guess you're unwilling to acknowledge these parts of my posts.

Without the protections of the Constitution this country would not worth living in, that's why I believe in the Constitution so much.

Further, I think that this tread has brought out the worst in my fellow MIFIs. I think that many people have closed their minds to the view points of others. You claim to be open minded, but have proven yourself to care about nothing except your tiny sliver of what is "right." You admonish even those who happen to agree with you, but feel slight different about the execution. Further, I personally apologize to those who do have deep religious convictions. Unlike many of the fellow MIFIs, I respect your right to practice your beliefs. I do not bash your beliefs and practices like many people do (for reasons sometimes beyond me), but I take issue with your practice when it becomes oppressive to me (or others) or when it violates someone’s rights.

The balancing act attempted in the Constitution is hard one, but I believe right minded judges, following case law and the Constitution, can strike that balance. The problem is that these issues are so loaded that people can’t take a step back from their own bias and dogma. I was trying to take that step back. I was trying access the meaning of the 9th Circuit Court’s ruling in the greater battle to find balance between our guaranteed right to religious expression and the guaranty that the Federal Government will not endorse worship or a particular kind of religious belief. I concluded that the substance of the words "under God" was very minimal when compared to other transgressions against the Establishment Clause. Thus, it's those larger transgressions we should focus on. I found that the substance of few rights, if any, were bring violated by either "under God" or "In God we trust" because it seems that very little meaning is being afforded those phases. I ask this question: When you reach in your wallet and pull out money do you give the religious implications of “In God we trust” and serious thought?”

On a legal note, I'd also think that the phrase "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance easy passes the Lemon Test (the rule proof to evaluate if a "monument of silence" amounts to "school prayer")
posted by Bag Man at 8:49 AM on June 28, 2002


Bag Man, I take it you can hurl a few sideways insults but you can't take 'em. I seem to recall originally asking you a simple question and trying to make a point by linking to and quoting from another article. My point was deemed foolish and irresponsible. I then tried to clarify that I was not equating this with the holocaust, and asked you to lighten up a bit by coming down off your high horse (hardly an insult in the face of having my point called foolish and irresponsible). It was then that you felt the need to hurl your second insulting remark by saying perhaps you ought to dumb down your point and make it more clear for me. I then countered, and sarcastically remarked that your point was already dumb enough for me to understand. So having insulted each other's point I certainly see that we disagree, but I hardly see where we have insulted each other. If you feel personally insulted I apologize, but I assure you I didn't take anything you said personally. I would just offer up that in the future if you feel the need to start slinging insulting remarks, be prepared to have a few slung back.

oh, and I didn't say that you weren't an advocate of the Establishment Clause, just that you weren't as 'staunch' in you advocation as you were claiming. I do support your position of opposing prayer in schools, but I still question why you feel that specific issue is better than another. I'm sure there are plenty of people that consider prayer in schools nominal or opposing it a waste of time. They would rather wait until the government tries to institute a national religion before they speak up. My position, which you seem unwilling to acknowledge is, why not speak up whenever the occasion arises? I am not riding high trying to play strategic games with government politics, so there is no horse for me to come down from. If you want to talk strategy, this ruling has made a huge noise in the political arena and has the potential for a big win for people on either side of the coin (pun intended). But you seem willing to stand there with your hands in your pockets because it's not a worthy enough cause, or because you believe the outcome to be worse than doing nothing. Why only the big battles, is still my question to you? Why only the ones you think it's easy to get everyone behind?

"because it seems that very little meaning is being afforded those phases."

To you. But I will concede that that is likely for many others as well, but if so little meaning is ascribed to it, why is such a big fuss being made about the possibility of its removal? If the goverment is going to 'staunchly' fight its removal or the court's ruling on the uncontitutionality of it, what does that say? I'd say they ascribe a great deal of meaning to it.

"When you reach in your wallet and pull out money do you give the religious implications of “In God we trust” and serious thought?"

Not when I'm paying for something, no. But there are those occasions where I do question it as well as the pyramid and eye on the great seal and the words annuit coeptis and novus ordo seclorum. But I understand the context it was developed under and the minds of the men of that time. I would also have no problem with changing these mottos or the back of the great seal. We are not discussing untouchable religious icons here. We are discussing symbols of government. Symbols that should be free of any religious bias. We already know that the politicians have their religious biases, and they should be representative of their constiuency, but the Constitution is there to protect the rights of the people in the minority from the will and whims of those in the majority. This issue corrects a wrong, however small, that Congress set in motion in the 50's. This decision does not take God away from anyone or anything but the face of government. It does no disservice to the "rich history this country was founded on", but instead upholds the rights of its people in these times of greater religious (and non-religious) diversity.

----

I personally don't see the 'school prayer' argument as the big one, but more that the inclusion of 'under God' by our government establishes that they recognize that we are a nation 'under God', and thus establishing a national religious belief in Monotheism. 'God' is not a generic term. It is very specific.
posted by mikhail at 11:14 AM on June 28, 2002


Or just beat dissenters with a wooden paddle.
posted by rushmc at 1:14 PM on June 28, 2002


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