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Pledge of Allegiance "Unconstitutional"

post #1 of 63
Thread Starter 
From Cnn.com

SAN FRANCISCO, California (CNN) -- A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that the Pledge of Allegiance to the U.S. flag cannot be recited in public schools because the phrase "under God" endorses religion.

In a 2-1 decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that reciting the phrase was a violation of the constitutional separation of church and state and amounted to government endorsing religion.

If it stands, the ruling means schoolchildren -- at least in the nine Western states covered by the court -- cannot recite the pledge, according to The Associated Press.

Pledge of Allegiance
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.

"The recitation that ours is a nation 'under God' is not a mere acknowledgement that many Americans believe in a deity. Nor is it merely descriptive of the undeniable historical significance of religion in the founding of the Republic. Rather, the phrase 'one nation under God' in the context of the pledge is normative," the court said in its decision.

"To recite the pledge is not to describe the United States; instead it is to swear allegiance to the values for which the flag stands: unity, indivisibility, liberty, justice and -- since 1954 -- monotheism."

The phrase was added in 1954 through legislation signed by President Eisenhower. The appeals court noted that Eisenhower wrote then that "millions of our schoolchildren will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural schoolhouse, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty."

Although no child is forced to say the pledge, the judges said any child whose personal or religious beliefs prevented him from reciting the pledge was left with the "unacceptable choice between participating and protesting."

The case had been filed against the United States, the U.S. Congress, California, and two school districts and its officials by Andrew Newdow, an atheist whose daughter attends public school in California.

The government said that the phrase "under God" had minimal religious content.

But the appeals court said that teachers having classrooms reciting the pledge did not pass the coercion test. The court also said that an atheist or a holder of certain non-Judeo-Christian beliefs could see it as an attempt to "enforce a `religious orthodoxy' of monotheism."

The three-judge panel was not unanimous in the ruling.

Circuit Judge Ferdinand Fernandez, who agreed with some elements of the decision but disagreed with the overall opinion, said phrases such as "under God" or "In God We Trust" have "no tendency to establish religion in this country," except in the eyes of those who "most fervently would like to drive all tincture of religion out of the public life of our polity."

"My reading of the stelliscript suggests that upon Newdow's theory of our Constitution, accepted by my colleagues today, we will soon find ourselves prohibited from using our album of patriotic songs in many public settings. 'God Bless America' and 'America the Beautiful' will be gone for sure, and while use of the first and second stanzas of the Star Spangled Banner will still be permissible, we will be precluded from straying into the third. And currency beware!" wrote Fernandez.

The 9th Circuit is the most liberal and the most overturned appeals court in the country.
post #2 of 63
The last sentence of your post says it all to me. I imagine that if this decision goes to the Supreme Court, it will be overturned.
post #3 of 63
Thread Starter 
I think this is a travesty, but where else but in liberal California where they think the Constitution is negotiable when they don't like it (i.e. 2nd Amendment need not apply in CA) would this ruling come down.

The case was brought by an Athiest who didn't want his daughter "exposed" to any mention of God, and who said that even though she had the choice not to recite it she was being coerced by peer pressure. Once again, the majority has to bow to the wishes of one of a very small radical minority. I suppose the only way to get the Pledge or patriotism back into school is to eliminate the "under God" phrase. I'm a pagan, and I see nothing wrong with the phase. It isn't specified "One country under (take your pick) Jesus Christ, Buddah, Allah, Zeus, Amen-Ra, etc."

I really hope this is overturned. But I guess if they can essentially ban Christmas and Easter in schools, this is only a logical continuation.
post #4 of 63
That is dumb! How can those people be dumb?? I am a naturalized citien of the United States sicne 1995. Before, I was just a legal resident. Yet, all through grade school, junior high, and high school, I recited the Pledge with good intentions. I love to recite it as I love America. It is my home and I know what the Flag stands for. I love the freedom and justice. And the people. I love singing America The Beautiful. I could go back to Mexico and then be loyal to that country, but while I live here, I am totally loyal to this beautiful country. I respect other beliefs, but I don't agree with the judges and the atheist.

I wonder if this person is or was allied to that one woman, I think her name was madeline O'hara.
post #5 of 63
This is absolutely ridiculous! Don't the courts have better things to do? More liberal, politically correct bull--it! We are indeed the United States of the Offended.
I may be wrong about this, but it seems to me that I heard somewhere that "under God" was added later into the Pledge Of Allegiance. A school teacher told us a story about how children will often misquote. This child had recited it as "one naked individual" instead of "one nation, indivisible." While I see absolutely nothing wrong with having "under God" in the pledge, maybe we should remove it, on the condition that every school paid for by our tax dollars be required to teach it to the kids and recite it every morning, standing, hand over heart. My school district did this for years. I still remember the pride I felt the first time I could recite it from memory. I really feel that this contributed to the patriotism I still hold dear to this day.
post #6 of 63
Well I seem to be the only one to agree with the court's decision. Atheist have the right not to have religious discourse, no matter how minimal, imposed on them in public schools. The same as those who believe in god should have the right to not have atheist ideology enforced on them in schools. A pledge is an affirmation of belief, values and loyalty. it is therefore important that it reflect and respect the majority and the diversity.
post #7 of 63

I'll bet the guy that brought the law suit doesn't have a problem using money, though... even though "In GOD We Trust" is printed all over it.

Oh, wait... I'm sure that's his next suit...
post #8 of 63
No child if "forced" to recite the Pledge. When I was in school, we Jehovah's Witnesses, in class. When the Pledge was recited, these students were delegated to take the attendance sheets to the office. When we had our party, before Christmas vacation, they got to go home, early. Only in California, would the Pledge of Allegiance be considered unconstitional.
post #9 of 63
Thread Starter 
Zapata - I respectfully disagree with you. Atheists have every right to believe what they want. But I don't think that this is forcing anything on them. I'm pagan, like I said, and I fully realize that the majority in this country are Christian. I constantly see Christian symbols and phrases as part of every day life. My beliefs are different from the majority, but I do not expect the entire society to change to go along with my views. I think that is very selfish and ego-centric.

Just my 2 cents.
post #10 of 63
In this vein: has anyone, else heard about Charlie Daniels declining to perform on PBS' "A Capitol Fourth"? It seems that the powers that be, at PBS objected to the lyrics of "The Last Fallen Hero". The song is a tribute to those who died on 9/11, the police, firefighters and the American military. PBS doesn't seem to appreciate Charlie's form of patriotism. The lyrics and the text of Charlie's letter, to the head of PBS are on the "Soapbox" section of his website, charliedaniels.com. Charlie is going to perform in Atlanta, instead. I'm sure that his song will get a warm reception, there.
post #11 of 63
**Shakes her head** I can only imagine where this is going to lead us...

Back in school we would recite the pledge of allegiance before class began. I remember kids goofing off during it and the teachers getting upset about it but no one was ever made to recite it.

I do not agree that the pledge of allegiance should be banned from schools and if a child should refuse to recite it as part of their religous beliefs then that should be allowed. People seem to forget that we live in a free country and you have a choice...
post #12 of 63
I realize that this topic raises a lot of strong feelings, for both sides of the issue. I have to admit, I feel two ways about this decision.

Part of me thinks, is this all the courts have to contend with? I believe that the recent decisions regarding the mentally retarded and juries in regards to the death penalty are issues our courts should be spending their time on.

However, I can completely understand those who feel uncomfortable with with phrase "under God" in the Pledge. My brother is an atheist, not because he woke up one day and said "Oh, I don't believe in God anymore". It took some very painful family circuimstances and a lot of thought on his part to come to his decision. Also, the contested phrase has not been part of the Pledge since the beginning. It was added in the 1950's, through an act of Congress. As far as I understand, people don't want the Pledge to disappear from public life, just that this phrase be removed.

One thing I did see on the evening news did disturb me, however. They interviewed a woman who said (paraphrasing) "This nation was founded this way, and if anyone disagrees, they should leave". All I could think was that this woman needs a review of American history. Sure, America was founded by people who believed in God, but it was founded to give persecuted groups religious freedoms they didn't have in Europe. For example, Maryland (where I grew up) was founded by Lord Baltimore, a closet Catholic, so that English Catholics would have a place to worship in peace. And that is what I think about when I think about America-a place where people have the right to have differing ideas and not be persecuted for them.
post #13 of 63
What I can't understand is this: Why in God's name would you leave him out of our pledge, when the entire reason the settlers came here was for religious freedom. This country was built on the belief in God, whether we like it or not. So after 226 years of the United States of America, under God, Some liberal jerks want to ban God from our country in every way possible? I think they need to get a life, and leave me and my family out of their uneasiness with their personal relationship with the true reason we are all here. GOD. Simple as that. Don't mean to offend anyone, I am sorry if I did.
post #14 of 63
Look at it this way: The politicians will have something the rant and rave about for weeks now, a further excuse for their not getting anything done on issues which matter. Like the never-ending "flag burning" debate, this Pledge thing will become an instant hot-button media-yammering point. Won't that be fun?

I'm old enough to remember saying the Pledge of Allegiance before it was altered in 1954. I'm not old enough, however, to recall if there was any public debate on the matter back then. It would be interesting to discover just why such a long-standing pledge was suddenly altered. Maybe our elders were deemed to be insufficiently religious in 1954, therefore in need of a further reminder of what was expected on Sunday (or Saturday).

It's only taken 48 years for the "new" Pledge to be successfully challenged, so we'll see what happens. Whatever the judiciary decide is fine with me, as the Pledge isn't exactly a big part of my life: I'll stand by my military service in the Republic of Viet Nam as proof of my love of country.

post #15 of 63
What I can't understand is this: Why in God's name would you leave him out of our pledge, when the entire reason the settlers came here was for religious freedom.
Personally (and not to upset anyone, either ) I believe that in this day and age religious freedom also means the right to not have a religion, or to believe in Nature as the power which gives us life, or to believe in many gods/goddesses instead of One. Our history has been one where many people, from many lands and from many faiths came here to have the freedom to live as they choose. Some see the Pledge as condoning or supporting the idea that there is one God. I believe that it's this "melting pot" (to use such a cliched phrase") is what makes this place such a great place to live, and it's why my grandparents chose to come here.
post #16 of 63
On this evening's news, it was reported that the words "under God" were added as a response to "Godless communism". This was during the era of the communist witch hunts.
post #17 of 63
The reason Eisenhower asked Congress to alter the Pledge in 1954 to include the phrase "under God" was because we were in the middle of the Cold War, and anti-Communist sentiment was running high. The phrase was included to differentiate us from Communists, whose government was traditionally aetheist.

I find the entire thing to be ridiculous. At my school, there are many Jehovah's Witnesses who do not recite the Pledge. We ask only that everyone stand. I'd say, in general, that more kids just stand than stand and recite.

Somebody has way too much time on his hands, IMO, to take something like this through the courts. I'll wager he has no trouble carrying around our currency in his wallet, even though God is plastered all over that.
post #18 of 63
As Vikki pointed out, the pledge is constantly evolving to reflect the changes in American society and values, in short to reflect the times.
I suggest that North America has matured enough to recognize the value of diversity of beliefs and even to try to encourage it. After all diversity is the fuel of progress. I'm sure that the California courts had this in mind when they decided to alter the pledge from one that excludes certain minorities. .
I do hope I'm not offending anyone with my dissent: I realize i'm canadian and some of you may not think I have much of a right to voice my opinion but this is an issue that we all face (even in canada). The reason this is so important is because traditions, such as the pledge, are symbols or our identity, values and what defines us as a society. This is certainly not too small a matter for any level of American court.
post #19 of 63
That one simple sentence in a piece of our culture could contain enough power to one person to go to this length to change it is ludicrous! With the tradgedy of Sept. 11 still fresh in our hearts and minds, I would imagine now, more than ever "One Nation Under God" should stand as a testament to the terrorists that although in their minds we are a feeble heathen nation, the opposite is so true. How many of us now attend church that didn't before this happened? How much of New York has changed where people are kinder now and more loving and offering prayer and support to their friends and to strangers? I suggest that perhaps what might be working on this man is conviction to his soul, that maybe being an athiest isn't all it is cracked up to be. With the myriad of problems in the United States at this time, this one shouldn't even be allowed to walk through the doors of the Supreme Court to waste theirs!

This is as ludicrous as what I heard on the news last night. They are convening a summit and will choose a group of people. They will be given 1.5 million dollars to then study in the coming years why America eats so much fried foods! 1.5 million dollars would go an awfully long way to feed the children in this nation who are living as homeless or in poverty and have hardly any food at all!
post #20 of 63
You know, when I attend some type of services in a Catholic church, for one reason or another, and the Lord's Prayer is recited, I substitute 'debts' and 'debtors' for 'tresspass' and 'those who tresspass against us'. In other words, I say the thing the way I feel comfortable with it. Why can't people who don't want to say "under God" just skip that part and pick up with "indivisible"?

The thing that gets to me the most about this issue si that it will be dragged through the court system forever, when there are so many matters more pressing in this country. And why am I stuck with the nagging thought that the guy who brought this suit was more concerned with his 15 minutes of fame than the courage of his convictions?
post #21 of 63
Tigger2, Yes people came here for religious freedom. Too bad most of them didn't get it. Of the original colonies, only Pennsylvania and Rhode Island truly had religious freedom. That being said, I think the debate over the Pledge is nonsense.

I am a teacher, and most of my students simply stand during the pledge. I had a lot of immigrant students, who may not have known the words. The point is, the students are not required to say the Pledge. I think someone just has too much time on his hands and wants to cause a controversy.

I lean more to the liberal than the conservative. It gets really hard when I have to take the rap for someone who is liberal and who lacks common sense.

Those of us who believe in God, or any higher power, know that he is there, regardless of what some people seem to think.
post #22 of 63
Thread Starter 
Bren - Just like there are way out there liberals, there are way out there conservatives. I lean toward the conservative side, but I certainly don't have the same views as Rush or Newt.

I've been thinking about this, and I think the reason this made me so mad is the utter lack of tolerance. I am not a monotheist, but I am not offended when someone else expresses their beliefs. I accept that I am a minority in this country, in the world for that matter, and move on. I am so sick of all these people in a minority group, (atheists, homosexuals, etc.) expecting everyone around them to change according to their views of the world. I fully support equal rights for everyone, no matter what, but I am tired of anyone different than the norm wanted special rights for themselves. Suck up and deal!

(End of Rant - sorry.)
post #23 of 63
Don't assume that being a liberal means the rights of the one should take precedence over the rights of the vast majority! I am a democrat, liberal on human issues such as helping the poor, etc, but very conservative about moral issues such as abortion. I believe it is the republicans who are more often complaining that big government would interfere with individual rights. I'm glad we have checks and measures, however.
Now we have the right of a very small minority deciding the rights of the majority. Of course, the congress has already taken a stand by reciting the pledge in public as a unit, and the Supreme Court will overturn this judgment. I also remember "one nation, indivisible." I also remember prayer being taken out of the school district and an elective course in comparative religion replacing it.

I do not object to the Pledge being restored to the way I learned it. However, if this ruling stands, we might eventually say goodbye to "In God We Trust" on coins, God Bless America, America, the Beautiful, The Battlehymn of the Republic, being sung in public places, and forget the 1812 Overture at fireworks.(the piece with cannons and cathedral bells always played during the finale) It might show loyalty to Russia. It was written as a tribute to the Russian victory over the French, not our War of 1812. We can get as ridiculous as we want.
post #24 of 63
Originally posted by valanhb
Bren -

I've been thinking about this, and I think the reason this made me so mad is the utter lack of tolerance. I am not a monotheist, but I am not offended when someone else expresses their beliefs. I accept that I am a minority in this country, in the world for that matter, and move on. I am so sick of all these people in a minority group, (atheists, homosexuals, etc.) expecting everyone around them to change according to their views of the world. I fully support equal rights for everyone, no matter what, but I am tired of anyone different than the norm wanted special rights for themselves. Suck up and deal!

(End of Rant - sorry.)
Bren, maybe I'm wrong but my impression is that the argued change to the pledge is to ensure equality of rights regardless if the group constitutes a majority or a minority. If, in this case, the rights of the atheist superceeded those of the monotheists (if they were seeking special rights), then the suggested change to the pledge would be one where atheism was highlighted like: one nation under no god
If you really want equal rights, then you can only agree with the proposed changes.
post #25 of 63
Thread Starter 
Zapata - you make a good point, and you are probably right. I think it probably will be changed to exclude any God references, and that's fine. Whatever. It is more politically correct and non-offensive that way.

If you can read poetry (which I'm finding, especially in another discussion on this topic, that most can't) the Pledge isn't to God, it is to the Flag and the Country (I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands,). The "One nation, Under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All" are descriptions of the country.

The problem is that he was not asking for the pledge to be changed to not include God, but that no one in a public school be allowed to recite it. That was my point - he wants to exclude the whole thing because he doesn't like it.
post #26 of 63
I still think if the child wants, they can opt not to say any part of the pledge, or the whole thing. I also think the Supreme Court will be more rational in the event that this gets to them. Which it probably will.

The problem with our society is that we want to create lawsuits about everything. There was a thread to that effect not too long ago. Someone wants their 15 minutes of fame, and decides they're bewing discriminated against or whatever, and we end up wasting valuable court time on bogus cases. This Pledge case should not even be an issue. No one is forced to say it.

Special protections get way out of hand, but I do believe that there have been times when we needed laws to ensure equal rights (the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the law which prevented discrimination against the disabled come to mind.)

I will say again that I am more liberal than not, and I agree, that doesn't mean the rights of one are more important than the rights of the majority.

I think I am really a moderate who leans to the left. I don't like it when every liberal is lumped together into one group, usually considered jerks or idiots. I try not to lump all conservatives together, because I know there are some moderates in that camp as well.

Zapata, I am a little confused by your post. I know you are joking at the end, but maybe you didn't read what I had written?
post #27 of 63
Thread Starter 
Interesting...just heard on the news that the Supreme Court ruled that providing vouchers for children to attend private, i.e. parochial schools, is not a violation of the Constitution because it does not mean that the government is establishing a state religion. Should be interesting how this plays into the discussion here.

Any thoughts? Just thought I would add some fuel to the fire.
post #28 of 63
The reason I am against vouchers is not for separation of church and state issues. I'm against it because our public school systems are falling apart, and instead of giving money to help them, it's giving money to people who are running away as fast as possible. As the child of a teacher in public schools, I think the money would be better spent on teacher salaries, school upkeep, books, computers, sports, etc....
post #29 of 63
One more nip at the Pledge issue, and then on to other things. I have the hardest time conceiving of Mr. Petitioner's 2nd grade daughter coming home ostrasized for not reciting the Pledge. As more than one teacher here has stated, it's far from the norm to see every kid in class at rigid attention saying the Pledge each morning. As a matter of fact, I really can't see a 7 or 8 year old thinking so philosophically as to ponder the fact that God is mentioned in the Pledge. That's what makes me think of this lawsuit as an attention-getting maneuver.

Now on to the voucher issue. The biggest flaw with the voucher issue is to believe that so-called failing schools are failing because they are jammed packed with incompetent teachers. Yes, there are lousy teachers. There are also lousy doctors, lawyers, cashiers, accountants, waiters, you name it. These schools are primarily failing because the parents of the children who attend them don't give a darn about their kids' education or anything else in their lives. These same kids will do no better in a voucher-paid private school.
post #30 of 63
I agree. The only difference between teachers in private schools and public schools is the salary. Truly dedicated teachers will teach in either environment, although we do like to get paid a fair salary. I taught in both. This man, however, is not asking that his daughter be exempt from saying the pledge; he doesn't want her to be "exposed" to its recitation. He doesn't want her to hear the word "God" in a public institution.
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