Those in favor of "under God" have made the point that the Declaration of Independence has three references to God and that it is sort of a second preamble to the Constitution. That's a nice thought, but it's not true. Thomas Jefferson was writing a specific indictment of King George III and of the notion that a hereditary monarch with an established church and religion could be the absolute master of a people 3,000 miles away with, potentially, many gods unlike the one by whom the king had been divinely anointed. God was on Jefferson's mind when he wrote his notification to the king that we were no longer his subjects.
It's nicely ironic that the pledge's "under God" (added by Congress in 1954) and our currency's "In God We Trust" (added in 1955) were duly blessed by President Eisenhower: "In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America's heritage and future...." In 1952 a fellow West Pointer teased Eisenhower that he would, if elected president, have to start going to church for the first time since childhood. "The only way they'll ever get me into a church will be feet first," Ike said grimly.
-- Gore Vidal
Karlton dismissed claims that the 1954 Congressional legislation inserting the words "under God" was unconstitutional. If his ruling stands, he reasoned that the school children and their parents in the case would not be harmed by the phrase because they would no longer have to recite it at school.
The Ninth Circuit concluded that even without a recitation requirement for each child, “the mere presence in the classroom every day as peers recite the statement ‘one nation under God’ has a coercive effect.” Newdow III, 328 F.3d at 488. “The ‘subtle and indirect’ social pressure which permeates the classroom also renders more acute the message to non-believing school-children that they are outsiders.” The court then determined that “there can be little doubt that under the controlling Supreme Court cases, the school district’s policy fails the coercion test.” Id. Accordingly, the court held that "the school district's policy and practice of teacher-led recitation of the Pledge, with the inclusion of the added words ‘under God,’ violates the Establishment Clause." Newdow v. U.S. Congress, 328 F.3d 466, 490 (9th Cir. 2002).
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