Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Being (mis)lead & missing the point

The Inky's Blog Cabin revisits the issue of the recent ruling against the indoctrination of public school children via the pledge of allegiance and notes that sweet Sin has made it about 40 years and, like many (over)reactionary conservatives, doesn't quite understand that anyone could have a legitimate beef with reciting the pledge of allegiance in public schools. As a matter of fact, he thinks US District Judge Lawrence Carlton is a moron for ruling that the daily ritual of reciting the pledge in public schools is unconstitutional based on the phrase "one nation under G-d" placing public school children in an environment which leads to a coercive requirement to affirm G-d. According to Sin, the fact that the pledge does not specifically state the god of any one particular religion means that the pledge does not constitute endorsement of religion
There are many different gods for many different people. Having “under God” in the pledge does NOT make it a sanctioning of ANY religion and it is most certainly NOT unconstitutional.
Sin doesn't seem to realize that the use of the phrase "one nation under G-d" not only implies there is a single personal creator but that it is a unified belief of this nation that it operates under said creator. This can be interpreteded as nothing but an overt endorsement of the religious belief in G-d and, therefore, an endorsement of religion [emphasis mine]

The "under God" movement didn't take off, however, until the next year, when it was endorsed by the Rev. George M. Docherty, the pastor of the Presbyterian church in Washington that Eisenhower attended. In February 1954, Docherty gave a sermon—with the president in the pew before him—arguing that apart from "the United States of America," the pledge "could be the pledge of any country." He added, "I could hear little Moscovites [sic] repeat a similar pledge to their hammer-and-sickle flag with equal solemnity." Perhaps forgetting that "liberty and justice for all" was not the norm in Moscow, Docherty urged the inclusion of "under God" in the pledge to denote what he felt was special about the United States.

The ensuing congressional speechifying—debate would be a misnomer, given the near-unanimity of opinion—offered more proof that the point of the bill was to promote religion. The legislative history of the 1954 act stated that the hope was to "acknowledge the dependence of our people and our Government upon … the Creator … [and] deny the atheistic and materialistic concept of communism." In signing the bill on June 14, 1954, Flag Day, Eisenhower delighted in the fact that from then on, "millions of our schoolchildren will daily proclaim in every city and town … the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty." That the nation, constitutionally speaking, was in fact dedicated to the opposite proposition seemed to escape the president. [Slate]

We do not wait to introduce the pledge in schools until children are of an age in which they understand what they are saying, let alone why. The daily ritual starts in Kindergarten as a captive audience of impressionable children are lead by (or under the direction of) an authority figure in reciting the pledge as currently written. These children are neither able to comprehend the allegiance they are pledging (an allegiance to an inanimate object as well as to a country under the authority of a religious authority) nor are they able to freely consent whether to participate.

The first amendment prohibits the establishment of religion and ensures the right to free exercise thereof. As such, the endorsement and promotion of religion and/or religious belief (not limited to a specific religion or denomination) as exemplified by the daily recitation of the pledge is inherently inconsistent with the constitution. The only lesson in civics children get from this daily ritual is one that a tyrannical majority will not rest until constitutional protections are not applied to those who need them most.

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