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Pledge of Allegiance

2002-06-27 14:03:17+00 by Dan Lyke 18 comments

So the Ninth Circuit US Court of appeals rules the "under god" phrase of the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional. This ruling will undoubtedly fall when it hits the Supreme Court, but maybe some teachers out there will be able to use this as impetus to do some education about what kids are really pledging allegiance to when they blindly recite those words every morning. I grew up in a Waldorf school, so I didn't get the pledge 'til the family moved, in 8th grade, and though the "under God" phrase didn't bother me then, parts of the rest of it did, like "with liberty and justice for all", as I wasn't ignorant of the history of this country.

Burning Bird has some thoughts on it, and User Friendly suggests a revision.

[ related topics: Religion Children and growing up Politics Law Education ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2002-06-27 14:51:19+00 by: ebradway

I had the opposite experience. I started out going to elementary schools on Air Force bases. We said the pledge every morning, frequently being drowned out by the sound of low-flying fighter planes. The 'under God' part did strike me as odd because the nitty-gritty details of the Constitution are always a focal point for the military (what can we do, what can we try to get away with, etc.). And, ironically, my experience growing up as an Air Force brat was that people on Air Force bases are treated equally regardless of race or religion. It didn't matter what color or creed you were, as long as you were willing to die for your country.

Now my experience later in Army ROTC was completely different. And there has always been a distinct difference between officers and enlisted - but that is a tradition that predates written history.

I think the Supreme Court will uphold the decision (by a close vote). The Pledge works just fine without the 'under God' phrase. They may just suggest changing the Pledge.

#Comment made: 2002-06-27 16:22:28+00 by: TC

Ya scooped me Dan. I try not to get too newsy on Flutterby but we talked about this somewhat earlier. It's amazing to me that people forget the importance of seperation of church and state. It's a good ruling and stands up in point of law but public opinion is overwhelming against removing this 1954 alteration of the pledge. You've got 3 justices that will definately overturn this and I could see them for "practicle" reasonsons swaying the moderates. Our culture has had the monothesitic GOD woven into it for 200 years and it will take time to grow up. Our congress recites the pledge upon opening. Our Court system swears witness in on a bible. Even our currencey states "IN GOD WE TRUST".

#Comment made: 2002-06-27 16:32:08+00 by: meuon

And for the LARGE majority of the population, this is what they believe. I also grew up with it, and see no problem with it. It's pretty generic, and the USA and general population is tolerant to a fault about other religions and belief systems. Even the lack of them.

#Comment made: 2002-06-27 18:00:30+00 by: Larry Burton

Putting any and all of my own ideas aside I believe the ninth court ruled in the only way they could rule. I do find it troubling, though, that state forced recitation of the pledge was found unconstitutional only on the grounds of the phrase "under God". Just being forced to pledge allegiance to something seems to be unconstitutional to me. I also find it strange that by and large the supporters of keeping the recitation of the pledge in schools are conservative Christians. As a Christian I shouldn't pledge allegiance to anyone or anything but God.

#Comment made: 2002-06-27 18:20:58+00 by: Diane Reese

Aside to add to todd's comment: Congress only began reciting the pledge at its daily opening in 1988.

My dad, a definite Christian, often told me how weird it sounded to them when "under God" got added in the '50s. I think he still has trouble remembering to add that phrase, and he thinks the pledge was just fine the original (sic) way ("...one nation, indivisible..."). It wasn't necessary for the generation that grew up fighting World War II to invoke a supreme being in their daily pledge, and they'll put their patriotism up against anyone's.

Note that much of the reaction to yesterday's ruling is uninformed (duh). A friend reported that at her son's scout meeting last night, the scoutmaster stood up and told everyone that he wanted them to join him in "an act of civil disobedience" and recite the pledge, as they always did. Um... several things wrong with that. (1) He's a private guy, using his position of power over children for a political purpose; (2) the ruling related to recitation of the pledge in public schools; (3) BSA is a private, theology-based organization and is not covered in any way by the ruling. (Except that we can't very well have two Pledges of Allegience, can we?) I am not looking forward to the next few weeks of backlash against a reasoned ruling. SCOTUS is almost sure to overturn it. Sigh.

#Comment made: 2002-06-27 18:22:35+00 by: dws

I learned the pledge in the early 60's, and noticed that some friends of my parents left out the "under God" part when they recited the pledge. It never occurred to me that when they learned the pledge (pre 1954 Congressional meddling), the "under God" part wasn't there.

#Comment made: 2002-06-27 18:41:03+00 by: Pete

"In God We Trust" is also an addition from that same era.

#Comment made: 2002-06-27 18:52:52+00 by: Larry Burton

I never minded the "In God We Trust" motto on our currency, I just wish they would put the entire thing on there, "all other's pay cash."

#Comment made: 2002-06-27 19:12:49+00 by: mkelley

on talk radio this morning, there were a lot of calls from irate people in favor of keeping "under god", and saying that people who wanted it removed were un-American. So now the pledge is pretty much a pledge to a county and not a god, how is this un-American?

#Comment made: 2002-06-27 19:40:35+00 by: Pete

Breaking out the Jean Shepherd. I approve.

#Comment made: 2002-06-27 19:44:01+00 by: TC

LB:As a Christian I shouldn't pledge allegiance to anyone or anything but God
I believe it is that kind of thinking that caused our elected officals to alter a pledge to a Nation in 1954. This accomodation is for those who believe in the one true God and through interpetation of holy scripture can not swear fealty to anything else. This creates a superclass of Americans based on religion. It's amazing to me how really right our founders got it 215 years ago.

#Comment made: 2002-06-27 19:50:03+00 by: TC [edit history]

Here's one for you Pete. Deus Lo Volt

Fixed the Link Sorry

#Comment made: 2002-06-27 19:58:26+00 by: other_todd

If you think being forced to pledge allegiance to something as a citizen is a bit harsh (and I'm not saying I disagree) you should take a look at the text of the citizenship oath sometime. Ow.

#Comment made: 2002-06-27 20:26:22+00 by: Pete

Todd, that's a busted link for me.

#Comment made: 2002-06-27 21:25:36+00 by: Dan Lyke

Except for the "So help me God" part (which I'm fairly certain you can replace with an affirmation), the United States Citizenship Oath is much better than the Pledge of Allegiance, to a large extent because it isn't about the symbol ("...to the flag of...") and doesn't make other statements about the entity "The United States". "...with liberty and justice for all" really stuck in my craw as a high schooler. Now I see it as an out.

It's interesting to try to reconcile the "defend ... the laws of the United States of America" with my belief in jury nullification.

#Comment made: 2002-06-27 21:53:39+00 by: TC

Welp it was nice while it lasted (about 24 hours) but Judge Goodwin has stayed his own ruling. You just have to know the administrative branch is screwing with the judiciary again.

#Comment made: 2002-06-27 23:04:56+00 by: TC

Today's User Friendly
Strip for Jun 27, 2002

#Comment made: 2002-06-28 13:11:30+00 by: ziffle

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law[Wiki]; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God. In acknowledgement whereof I have hereunto affixed my signature.

Its interesting that this oath is very similar in phrasing to the Masonic oath. Also, the part about performing work under civilian direction seems odd for a free country. Wonder when and how that got in there? Part of the altruism built into our system.