A Voice of Reason?

I shudder to think about what the Weblog community is going to have to say about the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling the Pledge of Alleigance as “unconstitutional”. It’s going to run along two roads, I bet:

1. Those who will be happy with the decision because of what they would probably term the “snide, in-your-face attitude of Christians in America today”.

2. Those who will be flamingly unhappy with the decision because of what they will undoubtedly say is “proof that this country is going straight to Hell”.

Hopefully, I’m somewhere in the middle. I’m not happy with the decision, because I think it’s a sop to overly-liberal forces and a denial of a pillar of American culture.

Yes, the Pledge was pushed by Eisenhower and a Congress in the 1950’s that was pretty, um, weird. Yes, “under God” undoubtedly, in most folks’ minds, refers to the Christian conception of God. But is that altogether inconsistent with the principles that this country is founded upon?

I don’t think two words in a rote recitation–“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic, for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. “–violates the premise that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”, as defined in Amendment I of the U.S. Constitution.

There is little doubt in my mind that the influence of religious institutions–especially Christian ones, but also including Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Mormon, and others–is a significant shaping factor of the American polity. The values espoused by men and women of faith have had a significant impact in constructing the underpinnings of our society, and, in my mind, to ignore that influence–or worse, pretend that it doesn’t exist–gives you an incomplete picture of What America Is All About [For Better Or Worse].

The most telling line from the CNN.com story I linked to above is the last: “The 9th Circuit is the most liberal and the most overturned appeals court in the country.” I personallly am not too aflutter about this, although five years ago I’d have been livid.

Now, the question of rote recitation of the Pledge in schools is another matter entirely. From my memories of it–we stopped doing it in fifth grade, from what I can remember–it served to make me ask questions of my parents and teachers about the values that underpinned American society. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. A little rote recitation isn’t a bad thing, and after a while, it also makes some kids wonder why they’re saying it all the time–and when they look into it, they might just learn something.

I bet even the children of the guy who brought the suit can appreciate that.


  1. I completely agree that a little rote recitation can always help a child. This is also coming from a person who has a horrible time memorizing things, so recitation was always something I could practice more growing up.

    I also agree that the influence of religious institutions is a great shaping factor in America’s culture. It does not mean, though, that every child in school should learn a phrase that says that our nation is under God when our government is not supposed to be affiliated with religion in any manner.

    Possible solution: Take "under God" out from the phrase. "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." This would still be something every child could learn in school and once recited long enough, I think it would still make enough kids start wondering and thinking about its true meaning. That pledge still announces our allegiance to this country and our devotion to what this country stands for.

  2. Even as a person of faith, I wouldn’t mind "under God" disappearing from the Pledge. I had a couple atheistic friends growing up [yes, even in grade school, but that was from their parents’ instruction, I bet–much as you’d probably assume that my early faith was just as much from my parents], and they always just paused when it came time to say "under God". I asked only once about it, and after that, well, it was all cool.

  3. ‘The U.S. Senate was so outraged by the decision that it passed a resolution 99-0 "expressing support for the Pledge of Allegiance" and asking Senate counsel to "seek to intervene in the case."’ (CNN story)

    ‘ "This decision is so much out of the mainstream of thinking of Americans and the culture and values that we hold in America, that any Congressman that voted to take it out would be putting his tenure in Congress in jeopardy at the next election," Grassley said.’ (CNN story)

    The second paragraph explains exactly why 99 Senators passed the resolution. They were afraid of not being reelected when their election time comes back around. It’s not because they believe whether or not the Pledge of Allegiance should be recited in schools across the nation. It’s because they want to be reelected.

  4. When we had to say it in school, I always tended to say something like "under dog" or "under gourd", Once you hit high school it became more of something to get though then anything you look forward to. Same with that moment of silence, that was nap time for me…

    Oh, and the way Kat was saying, the no "under God" part, well that is how it used to be i believe, I have no problem with that. Although if I had to recite it today I would probably says something like "under %Deity"

  5. Congresscritters, voting for something only because of election fears? Come on, Kat, that never happens! 😉

    When Eisenhower’s Congress put the Pledge in place in ’54, "under God" was part of it. I wonder how many folks realized that it’s just that recent?

  6. Yeah, yeah I know… But, you know, the Congress is making themselves out to be these righteous messengers of how things should be and I’m sorry, they’re not. But, so many people in America think they are, it’s ridiculous.

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