Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Pledge of Allegiance Outlawed In Schools

A (Carter-appointed) federal district judge in Sacramento ruled today that, in deference to the 9th Circuit Court's 2002 ruling that saying the Pledge of Allegiance in schools is unconstitutional--in a case that was tossed from the Supreme Court on a technicality--saying the Pledge of Allegiance in schools is in fact unconstitutional.

This ruling applies only to Northern California, but:

Karlton said he would sign a restraining order preventing the recitation of the pledge at the Elk Grove Unified, Rio Linda and Elverta Joint Elementary school districts in Sacramento County, where the plaintiffs' children attend.

This I don't understand. The Supreme Court has already ruled that no one is required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Objectors don't even have to stand in respect during the Pledge, they just cannot disrupt it in any way. So what is the problem here, the words "under God"?

The Founders had every intent of recognizing God. The 1st Amendment has become warped when people think that no mention of God is constitutional. "In God We Trust" is our national motto. The House of Representatives has a chaplain, and has since Day 1. The government hires thousands of chaplains, most of whom work in military and federal law enforcement agencies. The Founders of our current republic also wrote the Northwest Ordnance under the Articles of Confederation--an ordnance that set aside land for churches and money for missionaries! Even the Supreme Court opens each session with "God save the United States and this honorable Court."

The Supreme Court has also ruled on "ceremonial deism", saying that recognizing there is a God/god is not the same thing as having the government "establish" a religion.

So where is the harm? It's not in having atheists exposed to ceremonial deism. It's in bastardizing the words and intent of the 1st Amendment to create outright hostility to any religion.

Government offices had better be open on Christmas day.

Update, 9/15/05 6:47 am: I forgot the best part of this fiasco. The vast majority of Americans--and I do mean the vast majority--support the Pledge of Allegiance as it currently stands. This situation gives President Bush a wonderful PR tool: "We need someone on the Supreme Court who can interpret the Constitution as the Founders intended, not try to warp it to fit their own personal beliefs. This case shows just how important our federal judges are in the lives of ordinary Americans. With that sobering thought in mind I nominate...."

I hope he uses it.


Anonymous said...

If you don't have to say it or even stand I see no problem with having it in school. But what's funny is I haven't recited the Pledge of Allegiance in school for many years because is jut hasn't been done. Does our school have a policy against it or is there just no one who wants to spend the time? I believe this is a non-issue and can't understand why people are spending any time on this discussing whether or not it should be done. Now if someone was shoving a cross down my throat and yelling about how you'll go to hell if you’re not Christian or something that actually matters I could see spending the time and money on the issue, but the words "Under God" in a pledge that you don't even have to participate in is just pathetic.

I really doubt that we have nothing better to be done in our government then argue about 2 words, and if that is all we have to do we should really rethink the whole system. The Founding Fathers never saw this coming, they were living in a place where there were taxes going directly to the church no matter what religion you believed in. They had a lot more to worry about then the words "Under God". I don't know how we became so sensitive to even the mentioning of God.

Anonymous said...

"Government offices had better be open on Christmas day."

Christmas is a Pagan holiday.

The 25th of December has nothing to do with Jayzus.

Anonymous said...

"The Supreme Court has also ruled on "ceremonial deism", saying that recognizing there is a God/god is not the same thing as having the government "establish" a religion."

But it doesn't say Gods.

It should read God or Gods, to allow for polytheism.

And what about those who worship the devil. Is the devil a god?

Darren said...

Ronnie, it would have been said in our school but you have several teachers who were *militant* about its not being said. As a result we have the daily patriotic quote, in order to be in compliance with ed code--which mandates a daily patriotic exercise.

Anonomi, if those are the best arguments you can come up with....Come on, they're pretty weak.

cwu said...

hi, sir. haven't commented here in a while. this one dude said that christmas is a pagan holiday. i'd like to say that it's just a day set aside to celebrate the birth of Jesus. why would we call it CHRISTmas? your conclusion that it's a pagan holiday is quite silly. just because dec 25th isn't Jesus's real birthday doesn't mean that it has nothing to do with it. granted that during the Roman Empire, the time around dec 25th was meant to worship the sun, the Christians decided to make it a time to celebrate the birth of Christ. so, it does have to do with Jesus.

and i also do find it quite silly that they said the pledge is illegal just b/c of the words "under God." it's quite funny that those on the left think that Christians are being ridiculous when they complain of the moral situation of the world, but think that the pledge should be illegal just b/c the phrase "under God" doesn't really appeal to everyone. when you think about it, the moral situation of the planet is much more devastating than two words in the pledge. (now i'm not saying that all of those on the left feel that way, just some, of course)

Anonymous said...

how in the world have we as a nation allowed the desires of so few to out weigh and control the desires of so many?

Anonymous said...

Intellectual honesty requires that if anyone is going to cite the FF's supposed thoughts on the matter, one must remember that they were dead set against a pledge in the first place. I don't get the logic of stating that the FF's didn't want a pledge, but if they had, they would have wanted "under God" included in it.

And I just don't understand the uproar over something written by a socialist Babtist as a ploy to sell more text books. Funny that he was a Babtist but didn't think to add "under God" into the pledge. And funny that fifty years later we added "under God" as a way to distinguish ourselves from the godless Commies. If that ain't evidence of Intelligent Design, I don't know what is, because someone upstairs is yanking our chain.

Again, the FF's were an interesting mix of folks with many competing philosophies, but folks who selectively quote one or two soundbites tend to miss a significant point. This illustrious group was well represented by the Episcopal church, and most of the actual authors were card carrying members.

(This point cannot be overstated. Episcopalians and Unitarians were very well respresented among our FFs. And if you look at those groups from a 1776 viewfinder and not a 2005 version, their words and acts sing an unmistakable refrain on this subject.)

And this wasn't the 21st century gay bishop church, but a church that considered Henry the VIII to be a current event, not a historical figure. The Brits' church-state entanglements were fresh in the minds of our founders. They did not want an official Church of America, for two equally compelling reasons. They wanted to promote religious freedom and tolerance, but they also wanted to keep the state out of church affairs. Kings or Presidents shouldn't change the rules because they need a divorce, as the example that needs the least explaining. Without a strong church-state divide, we would have been at risk of wiping out Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Babtists, and the rest, in favor of one vanilla, generic government-sactioned Protestant church. The separation of church and state is a win-win for both sides, only one side doesn't get it any more.

So when folks misquote Adams on the reasons for a House chaplain, remember that he was a Unitarian and was talking about the benefits of general religiosity, not the benefits of joining his particular church. You gotta read the whole page, not just the one sentence that has been Hannitized for our protection. With three of the first four presidents Unitarians, with a plurality of the FFs Episcopalians, it just doesn't make sense to claim that the FF's were all about promoting their god, they just forget to put it into writing anywhere and instead left us da Vincian clues.

The pledge is just one of many issues that makes me wonder why folks who call themselves conservatives are so ready to espouse liberal practices in the name of so called social conservative causes.

Anonymous said...

the moral situation of the planet is much more devastating than two words in the pledge....

--> data doesn't support that conclusion. but data never convinced anyone of anything when you're talking politics and religion.

Anonymous said...

The Founding Fathers were also slave owning elitist who rebelled against their country (Britain) and only had approx. half the colony's support. Also, they did not see it fit for women to vote! If you think about it, it took 100 years for American Democracy, "Under God," to free its slaves and 150 years to give women the right to vote! Also, Democracy under God slaughtered the Indians and interned the Japanese. Do you really want to support the Founding Father's views? Is not the constitution and the concept of Democracy organic living things that need to change with the times? Why are you so obsessed with the Slave owning, Women-oppressing Founding Father who were not Christian but overwhelmingly Deist? Yes, they would have wanted "Under God" in the pledge--a pledge originally written by a socialist by the way, but their concept of God is entirely different. Indeed, the Founding Fathers no doubt supported a government that recognized a Higher Power. Yet, is not the Government today, however, alienating people who do not believe in a higher power but still want to pledge allegiance to their country? Keep God, in whatever form, out of schools and government. Should we not have a pledge that atheist children can say in class? So they don’t have to say it or stand, but they don’t have their own and they are signaled out and made different in front of their classmates on a daily basis. How sad!

Darren said...

The Founding Fathers were products of their times. To say that their ownership of slaves and "oppression" of women discredits any of their work is a weak argument indeed. Their political creation, this very country, shows they were far ahead of their contemporaries, even though they didn't share our more modern or advanced views of morality.

And I've heard the "deist" claim before. It's rather in vogue now, but it's revisionist history.

Anonymous said...

I took this from a friend of yours:

The founding fathers were not Christian! Indeed, the author of our nation’s most sacred and celebrated document, Thomas Jefferson (the Declaration of Independence), was a Deist! So were others, such as John Adams and Thomas Paine. However, this fact has been lost to our strict constructionist Christian Republican friends. Indeed, a little Google research and you will find that many Christians celebrate the founding fathers as Christians and the framers of a Christian nation. Moreover, some websites talk about the “Deist myth” concerning the founding fathers. They claim that the founding fathers were Christian and that people who say they were Deists fabricated such a lie to debunk and attack the Christian founding of America. Keep in mind, however, these same websites use no evidence—because that would prove them wrong! Here in this blog we will always use evidence to determine where the truth is and/or to base all our dialogue on. Also, plain old common sense will always play a hand!
First thing we must discuss is what Deism is. Here is a definition from The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, 3d Edition, 2002, accessible via the internet at “(DEE-iz-uhm) The belief that God has created the universe but remains apart from it and permits his creation to administer itself through natural laws. Deism thus rejects the supernatural aspects of religion, such as belief in revelation in the Bible, and stresses the importance of ethical conduct. In the eighteenth century, numerous important thinkers held deist beliefs.” Thus, reason and nature are the basis of Deism. Deism holds that design is found throughout the known universe and this realization brings people to a sound belief in a Designer or God. Unlike Atheism, which teaches that there is no God, Deism teaches there is a God. However, Deism rejects the “revelations” of the “revealed” religions (such as Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) but does not reject God. Many of our founding fathers held Deist beliefs and discussed it in their own writings.
Let’s look at Thomas Paine. Now, I am not going to take for granted that all our Christian Republican Patriotic friends know who Mr. Paine is so I am going to have to bore those of you who do with a brief bio. Mr. Paine (1737–1809) was an Anglo-American political theorist and writer. Born in England, and the son of a Quaker, he immigrated to America in 1774. He soon became involved in the clashes between England and the American colonies and published the enormously successful pamphlet Common Sense (Jan., 1776), in which he argued that the colonies had outgrown any need for English domination and should be given independence. In Dec., 1776, Paine wrote the first of a series of 16 pamphlets called The Crisis (1776–83). These essays were widely distributed and did much to encourage the patriot cause throughout the American Revolution. After the war he returned to his farm in New Rochelle, N.Y. Paine’s attack on English institutions led to his prosecution for treason and subsequent flight to Paris (1792). During the Reign of Terror he was imprisoned by the Jacobins from Dec., 1793, to Nov., 1794. During this time he wrote his famous Deistic, anti-biblical work, The Age of Reason (2 parts, 1794 and 1795). Here are some quotes from the man who helped to fuel the fire of the American Revolution: “I have spoken also in the same work [The Age of Reason] upon what is called revelation, and have shewn the absurd misapplication of that term to the books of the Old Testament and the New, for certainly revelation is out of the question in reciting any thing of which man has been the actor or the witness. That which man has done or seen, needs no revelation to tell him he has done it, or seen it—for he knows it already—nor to enable him to tell it or to write it. It is ignorance, or imposition, to apply the term revelation in such cases; yet the Bible and the Testament are classed under this fraudulent description of being all revelation . . . Whence arose all the horrid assassinations of whole nations of men, women, and infants, with which the Bible is filled; and the bloody persecutions, and tortures unto death and religious wars, that since that time have laid Europe in blood and ashes; whence arose they, but from this impious thing called revealed religion, and this monstrous belief that God has spoken to man? The lies of the Bible have been the cause of the one, and the lies of the Testament [of] the other. . . What is it the Bible teaches us?—rapine, cruelty, and murder, What is it that the Testament teaches us?—to believe that the Almighty committed debauchery with a woman engaged to be married; and the belief of this debauchery is called faith.” (Text taken from Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, quoted in Edwin S. Gaustad, ed., A Documentary History of Religion in America to the Civil War (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982), 294-95). Agreeing or disagreeing with Mr. Paine is one thing, but you certainly can’t call this founding father a Christian now can you!
What about founding father, revolutionary patriot, and 2d President of the United States John Adams? Here is a part of a letter he wrote to Thomas Jefferson on September 14, 1813: “Now, my Friend, can Prophecies, or miracles convince You, or Me, that infinite Benevolence, Wisdom and Power, created and preserves, for a time, innumerable millions to make them miserable, forever; for his own Glory? Wretch! What is his Glory? Is he ambitious? does he want promotion? Is he vain? tickled with Adulation? Exulting and tryumphing in his Power and the Sweetness of his Vengeance? Pardon me, my Maker, for these Aweful Questions. My Answer to them is always ready: I believe no such Things. My Adoration of the Author of the Universe is too profound and too sincere. The Love of God and his Creation; delight, Joy, Tryumph, Exultation in my own existence, ‘tho but an Atom, a Molecule Organique, in the Universe; are my religion. Howl, Snarl, bite, Ye Calvinstick! Ye Athanasian Divines, if You will. Ye will say, I am no Christian: I say Ye are no Christians: and there the Account is balanced.” (Text from John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, quoted in Gaustad, A Documentary History of Religion, 296). Adams obviously believes in a higher power, but again, he is no Christian—he is a Deist!
Finally, there is the granddaddy of them all, the author of the Declaration of Independence, and the third President of the U.S., Mr. Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson remarked in a letter to John Adams on May 5, 1817: If, by religion, we are to understand Sectarian dogmas, in which no two of them agree, then your exclamation on that hypothesis is just, ‘that this would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.’” (Text from Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, quoted in Gaustad, A Documentary History of Religion, 297).
In spite of Christian right attempts to rewrite history to make Jefferson into a Christian, little about his philosophy resembles that of Christianity. Although Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence wrote of the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God, there exists nothing in the Declaration about Christianity. Although Jefferson believed in a Creator, his concept of it resembled that of the god of deism (the term “Nature’s God”used by deists of the time). With his scientific bent, Jefferson sought to organize his thoughts on religion. He rejected the superstitions and mysticism of Christianity and even went so far as to edit the gospels, removing the miracles and mysticism of Jesus (see The Jefferson Bible) leaving only what he deemed the correct moral philosophy of Jesus.
Distortions of history occur in the minds of many Christians whenever they see the word “God” embossed in statue or memorial concrete. For example, those who visit the Jefferson Memorial in Washington will read Jefferson’s words engraved: “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every from of tyranny over the mind of man.” When they see the word “God” many Christians see this as “proof” of his Christianity without thinking that “God” can have many definitions ranging from nature to supernatural. Yet how many of them realize that this passage aimed at attacking the tyranny of the Christian clergy of Philadelphia, or that Jefferson’s God was not the personal god of Christianity? Those memorial words came from a letter written to Benjamin Rush in 1800 in response to Rush’s warning about the Philadelphia clergy attacking Jefferson (Jefferson was seen as an infidel by his enemies during his election for President). The complete statement reads as follows:
“The returning good sense of our country threatens abortion to their hopes, & they [the clergy] believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: & enough too in their opinion, & this is the cause of their printing lying pamphlets against me. . .”
Jefferson aimed at laissez-faire liberalism in the name of individual freedom, He felt that any form of government control, not only of religion, but of individual mercantilism consisted of tyranny. He thought that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.
If anything can clear of the misconceptions of Jeffersonian history, it can come best from the author himself. Although Jefferson had a complex view of religion, too vast for this presentation, the following quotes provide a glimpse of how Thomas Jefferson viewed the corruptions of Christianity and religion.
“Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear.” -Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787
“Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting "Jesus Christ," so that it would read "A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.”-Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, in reference to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom.
“The whole history of these books [the Gospels] is so defective and doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much doubt what parts of them are genuine. In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills.” -Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, January 24, 1814
“Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.” -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814
“In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.”-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814
Hmm, so Jefferson, perhaps one of our greatest founding fathers, is warning how Christian leaders are enemies of democracy!!!
A final point is this: Do we really want to embrace the religious beliefs of our founding fathers, whether Christian or Deist or whatever, that found it okay to enslave and brutalize African-Americans, Native-Americans, and other minorities? A religion that saw it fit to declare a slave to be only 3/5 of a human being. If I were a Christian I would shut up about this founding fathers intention bit and recognize they supported slavery and the suppression of minorities, including women. “Under God” was not added to the pledge until the 1950s, even then it was a part of Cold War rhetoric.

EdWonk said...

I just wish that this thing would be settled one way or the other. Rule! Supreme Court! Rule and be Done With It!

Darren said...

An unidentified "friend" of mine? Interesting.

I agree with EdWonk.

Anonymous said...


You're slipping, bro. I never said they were deists. And anyone who said they all were deists is making things up. But Presidents # 2, 3, and 4 were in fact Unitarians, and Jefferson was most certainly a deist, as was Tom Paine and Ben Franklin. Non-refutable. But also not really pertinent to my point.

My point is that many, many were Episcopalians. And 1776 Episcopalians, American and British, were in the process of rejecting the church-state marriage of convenience that had been the trademark of the Church of England and the Anglican Church.

That's not revisionist history -- that's a headcount.

I hate to say this, but I don't think I've met anyone who puts more of a personal spin on everything he reads. Check out my comment on Slidell in the Katrina section.

(And quoting Ben Stein as a defender of any member of the GOP can hardly be considered fair and balanced. The guy's brilliant but also a party hack.)

Oh by the way, still waiting for you to clarify the "can't prove a negative" theorum.

Anonymous said...

Someone please explain why promoting the Pledge of Allegiance as a mandatory pseudo-prayer, with or without "under god," is a conservative position.

It has nothing to do with limited government.
Has nothing to do with fighting taxation as a means of wealth distribution.
Doesn't promote national security.
Does not foster the emphasis on state's authority and responsibilities over that of the federal government.

What am I missing?

When did it become okay for so-called social conservatives to pursue liberal means to promote their agenda?

If you think you're a conservative, and you think mandatory recitations of anything in public schools are a good thing, you need to rethink your label.

Maybe check out the Rational Advocate and re-read the definitions of conservative and liberal. Because there are a lot of confused people running around these days.

Darren said...

The Supreme Court ruled decades ago that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance cannot be mandatory. We learned about the case in law class....

Anonymous said...

I said "promoting it as a mandatory psuedo-prayer," not that each and every student would be required to utter the actual words aloud. I think everyone else understood that I meant that pledge recitation would be required before class, not that everyone's participation would be tracked.

Darren said...

Pledge recitation is *not* required.

Coach Brown said...


The courts were correct in the ruling, even though I don't agree with it.

Darren said...

I have no doubt that the Supremes will rule that the Pledge of Allegiance is *not* unconstitutional, should the case go before them. I'm willing to place a gentleman's bet of $1 on this.