Pledge Ruled Unconstitutional
June 26, 2002
Michael Newdow felt like he wasn’t a "real American" so he did something about it. He got the Pledge of Allegiance banned from public schools. Oh, he didn’t mean to cause a national furor, he just didn’t want his daughter confused about his atheistic beliefs by having to say, or not say, "under God" in the pledge.
In the same week that the Supreme Court ruled that Jehova Witnesses have the right to ignore a no soliciting sign, a federal appeals court in San Francisco split 2-1 in favor of Newdow’s contention that reciting the pledge in public schools violates the separation of church and state.
In the words of the late Sam Kinison, "my God, what is this world coming to?"
Sure the words "under God" were added in the ’50s, but it was part of the evolution of this country. Some contend that it was to widen the gap during the Cold War, while others say it was just another side effect of the McCarthy era. Regardless of why, it has become part of the pledge. For a court to come in almost 50 years later and decide that merely using the word "God" is a violation of church and state astounds me. I’m not a religious zealot by any means. I’m just one of the most-of-us types that falls in the categories ranging from "quiet believer" to "quiet non-believer." So, why do I think it’s important?
It’s important because it’s part of American history. If our children don’t know where this country has been, how in the hell will they know where they’re going? This decision just sends another confusing signal to the public: another American tradition has been illegal for fifty years.
I was in a Toastmasters club about 20 years ago, and the topic of saying the pledge before each meeting came up. It wasn’t something we twenty-somethings liked to do. We just did it to appease the older members. One of those ‘older members’ stood up and told us that we should be ashamed of ourselves. Nina proceeded to chew us out about how we should feel lucky that we have the opportunity to even say it today. She told us about the fear of the public during WWII, and that our country has faced and survived other challenges as well. She concluded with a comment about us being spoiled brats who never said the pledge not knowing if we’d be able to say it again tomorrow.
I was never ashamed to recite it after that night.
Well, we can’t say it in schools tomorrow. Not because our country was taken over by a foreign enemy, but because an atheist found a couple judges who agree that God has no place in American tradition. I suppose the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg Address should be changed, too.
I wonder if Michael Newdow, as an atheist, is offended by me thinking he should go to hell?
The Original Pledge:
I pledge allegiance to my flag, and to the country for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
The pledge was originally written by Francis Bellamy for recital on October 12, 1892 to commemorate the quadricentennial of Columbus’s arrival.
The words ’the flag of the United States of America’ replaced ’my flag’ on June 14, 1923. Bellamy opposed the change.
Francis Bellamy decided against including the word ’equality&rsquo in the pledge because he knew the superintendents of education on his committee were opposed to equality for blacks and women.
Congress officially recognized the pledge in 1942.
In 1943 the Supreme Court ruled that children cannot be forced to recite the pledge.
Students have the rights to not say the pledge and not stand while it’s being said, and cannot be required to leave the room for exercising their rights.
Some other things I've written about: