11 March 2010

"Under God," Again

Folks are still fighting over the Pledge of Allegiance. In the latest round, a 2-1 majority on an appeals court upheld the constitutionality of the inclusion of the words "under God" in the 1950s revision of Francis Bellamy's original text. As some will recall, Bellamy, himself a Baptist minister, did not see fit to include the G-word in a text first composed for one-time use on the 400th anniversary of Columbus's discovery of America. Congress saw fit to invoke the Deity during McCarthyite days when many Americans believed that their recourse to faith distinguished them crucially from "godless communism." The news report of the decision only quotes the court to the effect that the majority found nothing wrong with the revised Pledge's expression of "some of the ideas upon which our Republic was founded." The justices might have been better off simply throwing out the suit on the premise that the Pledge is not a loyalty oath. While Congress took the frivolous step some time ago of bestowing official status on Bellamy's formula, it placed no one under obligation to recite the Pledge. The same plaintiff has had more success in the past challenging school rules that made the Pledge mandatory, and "under God" is one good reason why it shouldn't be. As long as the courts prevent authorities from forcing anyone to recite the Pledge, there's no point in challenging the text itself, as the plaintiff apparently tried to do here. If an atheist hears "under God" as an empty formula, he should not react to the Pledge as if he were a Jew ordered to worship a Roman Emperor. And before he complains about the offense to his conscience that comes with paying homage to a phantom, let him consider the spectacle, under God or not, of his beautiful conscience paying homage to a piece of cloth and all it supposedly stands for.

5 comments:

hobbyfan said...

And here I thought the Pledge, as we recited when we were kids, was the original version! Nice to know that there are some things steeped in tradition that you just can't trifle with.

Crhymethinc said...

No. All traditions must be examined in every generation. Eventually, all traditions must fall. Especially any tradition based on superstitious and primitive "beliefs". Until "god" shows his ugly mug here on earth for all of us to laugh at, we must assume there is no "god" and all religion is a lie.

hobbyfan said...

Crhyme: I think Newdow is looking for a shoulder to lean on. Care to volunteer?

Samuel Wilson said...

Hobbyfan: I think you miss the point, since the version of the Pledge you know is the "trifled with" one. The tradition set in 1892 was "examined" in the 1950s and altered to suit the times, which proves, as Crhymethinc may acknowledge, that the examination of traditions doesn't automatically produce good results. Doesn't mean we shouldn't keep at it, though.

Crhymethinc said...

Traditions are nothing more than a collective habit. Just as some habits are good and some are bad, so with traditions. And, just as an intelligent person quits bad habits, an intelligent society should have sense enough to quit bad traditions.