Lindsay and i have far-ranging discussions from eight to eleven in the morning. Our words lilt out to the tune of folk music and classic rock as we alternatingly bag, scan, sing, bag, scan, sing. I am unafraid of saying things to Lindsay now; although i know she still has the ability to be upset about something i say, i also know that it will ultimately not change our friendship.
There is this: a step towards striking “Under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance and the immediate backlash against it. Religion seems to be playing into this issue a lot more than Strict Constitutionalism, and i suppose that if we have to define Lindsay is a lapsed Catholic and i’m an Amendment-clutching agnostic. And we, apparently (though not shockingly), have differing opinions on the pledge of Allegiance.
As a sensible American who enjoys upholding the actual text of the Constitution, i have never supported the mention of God in the Pledge. For those of you still ignorant to how it got there, NO, it wasn’t in the original pledge. Not by a longshot. In fact, it was adopted in 1954. Yes, that’s right, while one of my parents was alive. Without ever having known this, i refrained from reciting the pledge for most of High School, but now i see that i wasn’t just another young punk flouting the will of the administration. Lindsay seems to think my idea is crazy, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
Ninth Circuit Judge Alfred T. Goodwin, who wrote the presiding opinion, stated that “A profession that we are a nation ‘under God’ is identical, for Establishment Clause purposes, to a profession that we are a nation ‘under Jesus,’ a nation ‘under Vishnu,’ a nation ‘under Zeus,’ or a nation ‘under no god,’ because none of these professions can be neutral with respect to religion.” Indeed. Many might note that we have God’s name on our money, for god’s sake, so why make a big deal about the pledge. However, the bone of contention isn’t merely the mention of God – at least, not legally. In fact, it’s all about implementation.
According to the court, upon President Eisenhower signing the legislation that inserted he wrote 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.” Not because he wanted it to be consistent with our money. Not to be consistent with all the flowery language about “Nature’s God” in the Declaration. No. Not for any of those reasons, but because in 1954 President Eisenhower thought that it would be a good idea for every child to be reminded of God – his “Almighty” – every morning in homeroom. Not Zeus. Not Vishnu. Not Satan, god help us. God. The God. You know which one i mean.
Says the court: “The Pledge, as currently codified, is an impermissible government endorsement of religion because it sends a message to unbelievers ‘that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.'” While that might be a little excessive, personally i think he’s got to go. God, that is. Either that, or we need to make a clearer and more pertinent phrasing of the original 1954 law to make it clear what God’s purpose is in the phrasing.
Lindsay seems to disagree. She voices the opinion, shared by many, that God is a small thing to be squabbling about right now. The divisiveness introduced by an argument over something that is at once so trivial and yet so vital is exactly the sign that we aren’t the country we need to be. My response is that our country is built upon the foundations of inclusiveness and Constitutionality, and to suspend that just because we’re involved in a greater conflict is a sign of how weak we truly are. Unfortunately, my labeling us as already weak and divided apparently undermines my argument solely on the fact that i am just not patriotic enough in the first place. Which is probably true. However, i’m sure there are plenty of bright young patriots out there who have actually read the establishment clause and can see that this is an issue of constitutional interpretation … not of lapsed nationalism and atheistic ideals.
*sigh* … back to work i go. I’m sure you can find a better news source than me for more on this story – it should be interesting to watch both political parties swallow all of their stances on interpretation as they attempt to rectify this very real inconsistency between amendment and law. I say we shouldn’t vote any of them back into office.