Pledge of Allegiance, what gives?

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Purple_jester, Jun 27, 2002.

  1. Thallid Ice Cream Man 21sT CeNTuRy sChIZoId MaN

    EricBess: I agree almost entirely with you, but for one point you made on which my stand should be clarified.

    While I can understand and agree with statements that the voting populace would elect people based on a number of factors including amount of expression of religious faith, I disagree with the proportions of religious faith representation among citizen-elected members of the federal government. Members of the federal government are in overwhelmingly large numbers Protestants, and so it is difficult for members of other faiths to have anyone at all to look to for political support as far as religious solidarity is concerned. I would suspect that there are far more, say, pagans (this being a massive lumping) or Buddhists or Hindus in this country who are eligible to vote than are there members of the federal government relative to the whole who represent these specific faiths. Perhaps this is one of the side effects of a democracy, but it could certainly stand to be different.
  2. EricBess Active Member

    TICM, fair enough. I happen to be LDS and outside of Utah, there is a minority representation in government of my faith. However, now it is my turn to clarify. My point wasn't about specific religions. I don't think any policy based on a specific religion should be supported, nor do I think it would make it through the system.

    But my point is that whether or not a person is religious in general, and how they show that, is relevant and appropriate.

    There was once a law on the books (I think it was Missouri) called the extermination order that allowed people to kill Mormons. That is unconstitutional ;) But whether or not prayer is allowed in schools...whether or not the pledge of allegance says "...under God...", neither of which is denominational...

    If it is determined through the system to decide these items one way or another, then it is because society as a whole or majority, has determined this factor. If so, I wouldn't have to agree with it, but I would support it. But the system should not be held hostage by a minority screaming oppression...

    BTW, if another extermination order were ever passed, then I think it would say something very bad of the country as a whole and where it had gotten to...
  3. Chaos Turtle Demiurgic CPA Member, Admin Assistant

    First, I'd lke to say how nice it is to be involved in a political discussion which has not erupted into a flamefest. :) Hopefully no one miscontrues my arguments as simply being argumentative. I just prefer to debate with accurate facts. At any rate, it doesn't look like I have any cause for concern on that front. :)

    I think we agree on the point that it was probably unneccessary to rule on this subject at all. I mean unneccessary in the sense that the Pledge ritual is basically harmless and the guy who brought the suit is probably just being a bit of a pain in the ass.

    Of course, it was neccessary in the sense that the guy (Newdow is his name I believe) had the right to sue, and as such it needed to be ruled on. It is in that sense that I believe that the ruling was essentially correct.

    Presumeably, the Supreme Court will end up with this case, and -- being a "good" American :D -- I will accept whatever ruling they give with satisfaction that the system has done its job.

    Just to be sure no one misunderstands my position on the "separation of church and state" issue:

    I am a whole-hearted supporter of religious freedom so long as the free excercise thereof does not infringe on anyone else's (okay, mine) religious freedom. I have no problem at all with prayer in school, so long as it's a choice of the student, with no pressure whatsoever from the establishment to participate. If a kid wants to begin her school day with a prayer, that is her right.

    Same goes for public prayer. If I go to a high school football game and the people putting it on invite a religious leader to give an invocation, I have no issue with that at all. During my time as a LDS, I was very respectful of the practice, though my beliefs at the time (LDS can be very particular about the structure of their prayers) sometimes precluded my from "actively" participating. Likewise the practice of benediction before graduation ceremonies or any other public gathering. Everyone involved can opt-out if they choose, so there is no infringement, in my view.

    In short, I believe that, although people seem to be a bit too sensitive (politically speaking) the courts have an obligation to uphold the Constitution when they are asked to do so.

    I think the Pledge can either be returned to its previous form, free of the religious reference, and that it should be relegated -- in its offical capacity, I mean; people are of course free to recite it anytime they wish -- to civic ceremonies, which was its original purpose anyhow.
  4. Erbrich New Member

    Interesting debate going here...

    I, for one, think that the ruling made by the 9th Circuit was completely offbase. Why? Allow me to explain.

    When the Pledge of Allegiance was written, it was never meant to be a prayer or statement of religion, although it was written by a Baptist minister. It was meant to be a uniform patriotic statement--essentially a patriotic motto I guess you could say.

    The words "under God" were added in the fifties, not to make it into a prayer, but to recognize the role that religion and religious freedom played in the formation of our country.

    The Declaration of Independence may not be law, but it is significant as it declares why our forefathers chose to form a new nation, thus making evident their viewpoints when forming the Constitution and early laws of our nation.

    Do I feel that they wanted one religion in our nation...absolutely not...But because of the historical significance of these words and many other writings by the founders of our great nation, the words "under God" in the pledge hold a special significance. The significance is not to say that we all must worship the Christian god(in fact, the pledge doesn't specify a god or religion and neither does the Declaration). The references to a god in the Declaration of Independence are
    and the statement I've quoted above.

    Nowhere is the Pledge or any other government document promoting one religion or belief. It is merely significance through history and tradition--and those that don't agree with it aren't forced to.

    For instance, before presenting testimony before a court, common practice and tradition has been to 'raise your right hand and swear to God on the Bible' that you will 'tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth'. But the law does not REQUIRE it. It is merely a tradition. That is why anywhere that an oath is required by the government, the law reads 'oath or affirmation'. You can affirm that what you are going to say is the truth and that is good enough for the court.

    It is my opinion that these days, people are becoming so concerned with the little details--two words--instead of looking at the big picture and trying to understand our nation's history, traditions, legacy, and culture.

    I've had conversations with a couple Law Professors on this issue and they say there is no doubt that the Supreme Court, if forced to rule on this ruling, will NOT uphold it. And I truly believe that is the right decision.
  5. Multani Treetrunk Guy

    I'm just gonna chime in here, and say that I agree with Chaos Turtle in that the Pledge should ditch the "Under God" portion.

    TCIM: The results of not reciting the pledge in school is representative of the teachers in my area. And as CT put it, the teacher nabs you, not on the reason that you don't recite the pledge, but on the fact that you are disruptive, which is why I added the word theory. We have the fact in theory because it says or implies it in the law. But in reality, we get punished more or less for it anyway, usually under a different reason.

    Erbrich: I've gotta play devil's advocate here. The words 'under god' suggest a monotheistic religion. Now, imagine, you are a Hindu. You are polytheistic. Would you not view the words 'under god' in things like money, the pledge, in court, etc. as the U.S. supporting monotheistic religions? You see, that's the problem. It doesn't matter that it's a historic tradition. Some people will still be offended that it's printed on things government related or it's in the things like the pledge. Seperation of the State and Church means that the government should not do anything or say anything religious. 'Under God' is a statement acknowledging monotheistic religions.
  6. Erbrich New Member

    In response to Multani's argument:

    The Constitution states:

    This is essentially two clauses, referred to as the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause.

    The Establishment Clause has been interpreted by the Supreme Court and legal and historical scholars to mean that Congress may not establish and fund a national or official religion, as many other countries were doing at the time the United States was founded. The key word is 'establishment'. Congress may respect the 'existence' of religion, but may not 'establish' a national or federal religion that is the official religion of the United States.

    Further, the first Congress that proposed the Bill of Rights opened their session with a prayer and apportioned federal dollars to support missionary work. That shows that they definitely had no intention of creating a stone wall dividing religion and the government. As EricBess pointed out earlier, each person, including elected officials and representatives of the people have their own religious beliefs and should not be forced to put them aside in deciding on governmental matters as that would be a violation of the second clause above.

    The Courts tend to use a three pronged system referred to as "the Lemon test" when dealing with possible violations of the Establishment Clause. The test works as follows:

    Government action violates the Establishment Clause unless it:
    1. Has a significant secular (i.e., non-religious) purpose,
    2. Does not have the primary effect of advancing or inhibiting religion, and
    3. Does not foster excessive entanglement between government and religion.

    What follows is my own application of the Lemon test, not to be construed as an official court statement--merely an opinion:
    1. The Pledge, with the words "under God", serves a significant secular purpose;
    2. The primary effect and purpose of the Pledge is not to advance or inhibit religion of any sort. It is to inspire patriotism and pride in our country.
    3. The Pledge does not foster excessive entanglement between government and religion because it does not create any agreement or dialogue between a particular religion, denomination, or organization and the government.

    The Supreme Court also has a long standing record of upholding the constitutionality of state legislatures opening their daily business with a non-denominational prayer. Their reasoning is that since the First Congress hired a chaplain and opened it's business with a prayer, the Constitutional Intent of the Amendment did not include the prohibition of legislative prayers.

    To me this is suitable evidence showing that it is indeed others it might not be...but that is why we have the rest of the First Amendment--so we may all speak our minds on the issue in hopes of coming to some sort of common agreement or viewpoint--and if we don't, that same amendment protects the right to speak our minds even after a decision is made.
  7. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    From Chaos Turtle:
    Notice the difference in participants in this go-around :)

    This statement kind of leads into this thought: Does removing "under God" infringe on a "believer's" religious freedom? It seems to be me this is a bit like Magic R&D: no matter what card you design (or phrase you come up with), you're going to be stepping on someone's toes.

    What was the history of opposition when "under God" was added? Anyone know?

    Matter of fact, it seems the whole "Pledge" thing smacks of... something. How many other countries have a "Pledge" that is recited in the same types of venues as the US Pledge? That's probably not the issue here anyways since it's seems to be separation of church and state, but it seems someone would have opposed the Pledge on the whole. But maybe it's not a Constitution issue or whatever I'm trying to say :rolleyes:
  8. Thallid Ice Cream Man 21sT CeNTuRy sChIZoId MaN

    Hi, Erbrich! Welcome to the discussion.

    I would never choose to infringe on patriotism, which I define as a love and respect of one's country. However, while the Pledge of Allegiance does promote American patriotism, it has other effects that while harmless to most could in earnest be considered harmful by others.

    Recitation of the pledge of allegiance probably does not strike most people as an opportunity to proclaim joyfully one's complete allegiance to the United States, the land of the free, but as this thing you say in the morning (I am paraphrasing, to be sure, but keep in mind the lack of eloquence of most people). I am sure that most Americans, if asked, would probably be in favor of the pledge, but not ecstatically enthusiastic about it.

    Instead, I believe that for the majority of Americans, the pledge of allegiance is like a chant. Certainly one can decide once for oneself to support the United States and be done with it... the fact that this pledge is said in most cases five times a week shows that it is not expected for most people to subject patriotism in their minds to calm and careful thought. Rather, it is almost like a mantra designed to reaffirm in Americans their perhaps less than sublimely ecstatic (not that there is anything wrong with not being able to believe in something with sublime ecstasy) belief in the United States and its virtues.

    So while the realization that religious freedom (and thus inevitably religion) was instrumental in this nation's growth is important to and supportive of American patriotism, that justification for the inclusion of "under God" in the pledge is a moot point, considering that the pledge -- and thus the "under God" section -- is recited without much time for thought about it every time one recites it.

    In my opinion, it is this repetition of "under God," or at least other things like it, that, for example, brings people to wax about their "god-given rights under the constitution" to do such-and-such. This occurrence does not happen particularly often, but when it does I am confused.
    One of the points of the constitution was that it was not god-given, but written by a group of people who were human, who admitted their lack of otherworldly status or divine mandate, and who saw that it was necessary to protect against people claiming political power or strength from any God.
    This tradition towards religion is just as important as others, and in my opinion does not have as much respect because it is not enshrined in words designed to be memorized and repeated, perhaps tens of thousands of times in one lifetime.

    Certainly I would not force one not to say the pledge if he/she chooses to say it frequently... but it is strange that so many people say so frequently what most likely does not have the intended meaning for them.
    Oversoul likes this.
  9. Erbrich New Member

    There are probably people out there that do feel that the Pledge of Allegiance has no meaning to them. But I, personally, have a feeling of pride every time I recite it or hear it recited. Why? Because although it is said repeatedly, I understand what it means...what each part of it means and what it means as a whole.

    There's this really good speech about the pledge that Red Skelton gave about when he was in school and a teacher renewed the students' interest in the pledge and made it significant for them again by explaining what it meant.

    I think that's a major part of the problem with the pledge, both in the fact that people regard it as insignificant and in arguments like this lawsuit that came up--people don't take the time to think about what it means and what it stands for. They just look at it as this thing that people recite daily for no important reason.

    I'm not saying it's wrong to feel the Pledge has no meaning, people have freedom of speech. But I think that more emphasis should be placed on the learning and understanding rather than the robotic recitation.
  10. Thallid Ice Cream Man 21sT CeNTuRy sChIZoId MaN


    Unfortunately the man who sued probably realized that he couldn't do all that much to change it himself, and thought the next best thing was to sue.
  11. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    I don't know how he feels about the Pledge personally, but there was a article about "the man behind it all" and apparently he's dedicated his life to the pursuit of the separation of church and state. He's filed a couple of lawsuits before over this (in Florida and another place) and they were thrown out; this is the first time it's gotten this far.
  12. Svenmonkey Pants Chancellor

    I'll throw my somewhat-belated two cents in here...

    The pledge of allegiance is unconstitutional in the fact that it says "Under God" in it. This "Under God" is clearly a reference to the God recognized by Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. This controversial phrase was added in the fifties, obviously another action brought on by American paranoia about the spread of communism.

    If you're going to argue that a kid could just not say the pledge: The fact is, most children are forced into saying the pledge at the beginning of the school day.

    And if you're going to argue that it's "historical" to include a reference to a deity: The only "history" behind that addition a history of American stupidity (Fear of the "commies").

    Sorry if that was incoherent or something. I've slept for 4 hours in the past 2 days.
  13. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    I still don't really understand why "under God" violates the "separation of church and state" to the point of being unconstitutional. What about the money? The sworn-in statements of public officials/courts?

    As a note, some state passed a law stating every school (elementary) had to state the Pledge every morning, although students can "opt-out" in some way.
  14. EricBess Active Member

    You know, there have been a few people comment about the "brainwashing" effect of having to say "under God" every day at school. The pledge of allegence isn't about religion. everyone believes in God (or god, as the case may be). Some people worship money, or nature, or themself, but I think you would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't worship something.

    The bottom line is that the founding fathers were religious people. Some of them were trying to escape the oppression of an imposed religion. Some of them were trying to find a place where they could be the oppressors.

    But they all in the end realized that religious oppression was not appropriate, so they gave us freedom to worship how we want to.

    The guy behind these lawsuits is morelikely after the money than after an ideal, but either way, he's either an opportunist or just a bit blinded by his own ideals. If those ideals matched the ideals of the general populace, this wouldn't even be an issue right now.

    Okay, so I'm getting of track of my point, which was brainwashing. Does anyone here really think that saying "under god" (you don't have to say the capital if you don't want to) is going to make you Christian? Honestly?

    The point of the pledge of allegiance is to inspire patriatism. The question isn't so much are we brainwashing our children into religion as it is, are we brainwashing our children into Americans? And when I say that, I mean in the sense that so many people took with the whole September 11 issue (which I am not trying to dig up again, please).

    My point is, there were quite a few people back then, and not just the Americans, I might add, who were very pro-my country, anti-everyone else.

    Now, before I get flamed too badly, I don't think patriotism is a bad thing. We each live in our own country and we should be proud of the accomplishments of that country and of our ancestors, regardless of which country we live in.

    But, at the same time we are instilling this, are we teaching tolleration of others? Maybe not enough.

    However, to get back to the Pledge, should we be brainwashing our children to be patriotic? Don't know. I don't really see anything wrong with trying to instill patriatism, though more should come from teaching the history than from brainwashing.

    Man, I hated History class, but I must have picked something up. I'm thinking maybe history isn't being taught so well nowdays.

    Then again, maybe it never really was. I grew up thinking Russians were bad guys. Fortunately, I matured, and not just because of recent events.
  15. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    Saw in the Baltimore Sun from a couple of days ago that now the guy is trying to get references of God removed from the president's inaugural (or whatever it is in January) address, since Bush had a prayer last January in his.
  16. Chaos Turtle Demiurgic CPA Member, Admin Assistant

    Now that would be silly.
  17. Baskil CPA Member

    Sure, the Declaration has a few references to God, but that document was written years before the Constutional authors got down to business, and therefore do not apply to current law.

    Constitution - 0 references to God. Religion, yes, but a specific aspect of Religion, no.

    The saying the pledge (or worse, being compelled to say it) with 'under God' in it states not only your allegiance to the US, but your belief in monotheism.

    Now some of you may ask why should that matter, no one is a polytheist. Well, the fact is that by saying that the polytheists' and atheists' (the true ones that don't believe in any spiritual being, not the trendy ones) view is invalid.

    And since the pledge, and any other Government related motto/statement that references a single diety in essence endorsing a set of religions, which various Supreme Court decisions as well as constitutional scholars would agree is prohibited by our constitution.

    Imagine this the other way around. Imagine if the constitution said "I pledge alliegance, to the flag, of the United States of America. And for the republic, for which it stands, one nation, with no god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all" Now imagine if you were compelled to say it by your elementry school teacher. I'd imagine that religious types would feel unconfortable saying it. That's what polytheists and atheists that are forced to say the pledge feel.
  18. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    Again, it's interesting that all of this furor comes up now, when the phrase is already inserted in the Pledge. Where were these people when whatever group was lobbying for it to be put into in the first place?

    So are we to go looking at all references to "god" or whatever in every "state" setting? Do people really say "So help me God" when they pledge to tell the truth in court? Or is that just on TV or optional? What about pledges of office?

    Also, can someone explain to me how using state money to provide vouchers for private schools (and that's usually religious ones) is not the same thing? I realize the Supreme Court made this decision and the Pledge issue hasn't reached it yet, so it's not issued by the same "court"; so is this an indication that the Supreme Court will favor "under God" in the Pledge, should it get that far?
  19. Thallid Ice Cream Man 21sT CeNTuRy sChIZoId MaN

    Probably being accused of communism.

    I don't know about pledges or oaths though...

    The Supreme Court made this decision 5-4... That battle isn't over yet. It is a very similar thing though, even though the proponents of that other decision might tell you it's not.
    Of course the conservative Supreme Court will favor "under God" in the pledge. They might even be stupid enough to include something scathing about communism in their majority opinion, even though it barely applies in this day and age.
  20. Baskil CPA Member

    If it isn't the same thing, it's really close to the same thing. (This isn't the first time we've done something like that. The previous administration approved a measure for religious groups to get federal funding for charity work) OF course, I'm against vouchers for a different reason: We shouldn't give up on our public schools, taking funding away from them and putting them into private schools only makes the public schools worse, thus making our education system weaker (Even though we couldn't get much worse)

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