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Pledge of Allegiance Unconstitutional?

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By Virgil - Posted on 26 June 2002

The Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional and should not be recited in public schools because it includes the words "under God," a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday. In its 2-1 decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a 1954 act of Congress that inserted the phrase "under God" after the phrase "one nation" in the pledge. The ruling, if allowed to stand, means schoolchildren can no longer recite the pledge, at least in the nine Western states covered by the court.

Reaction to the ruling came swiftly, with President Bush leading a chorus of opponents.

"The president's reaction was that this ruling is ridiculous," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

The appeals court said the phrase "under God" amounts to a government endorsement of religion in violation of the Constitution's Establishment Clause, which requires a separation of church and state.

"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," Judge Alfred T. Goodwin wrote for the three-judge panel.

The ruling will not take effect for several months, to allow further appeals. The government can ask the court to reconsider its ruling, or it can ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn it.

"We are certainly considering seeking further review in the matter," Justice Department lawyer Robert Loeb said.

The case was brought by Michael A. Newdow, a Sacramento atheist who objected because his second-grade daughter was required to recite the pledge at the Elk Grove school district. A federal judge had dismissed his lawsuit.

"I'm an American citizen. I don't like my rights infringed upon by my government," Newdow said, calling the pledge a "religious idea that certain people don't agree with."

"I'm trying to strengthen the Constitution," he told Fox News in an exclusive interview Wednesday afternoon. "Take whoever you are out there, find a religion you don't agree with, and make them swear to it. You would object as well.

"If you had to say every morning 'one nation, under Buddha' … 'under David Koresh' ... pick any specific religion you don't agree with ... how would you feel?

"The framers were really smart people. Look around at the world right now … you have problems because you find people combining religion and government."

The federal government, in arguing against Newdow's lawsuit, said that the religious content of "one nation under God" was minimal.

But the appeals court said that an atheist or a holder of certain non-Judeo-Christian beliefs could see it as an endorsement of monotheism.

The 9th Circuit covers Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington state. Those are the only states directly affected by the ruling.

The appeals court said that when President Eisenhower signed the legislation inserting "under God" after the words "one nation," 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."

The court noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has said students cannot hold religious invocations at graduations and cannot be compelled to recite the pledge. But when the pledge is recited in a classroom, the appeals court said, a student who objects is confronted with an "unacceptable choice between participating and protesting."

"Although students cannot be forced to participate in recitation of the pledge, the school district is nonetheless conveying a message of state endorsement of a religious belief when it requires public school teachers to recite, and lead the recitation of, the current form of the pledge," the court said.

Virgil's picture

Without question, this ruling is up there with some of the stupidest decisions in the history of our country. Anyways, the supremes will overturn it. The US Supreme court already rules in several cases that a general reference to "God" is no necesarily an endorsement of a religion by the government.

Corey_X's picture

I would point out that what is unconstitutional is to REQUIRE a student to say the constitution, given its content-- not the existence of the constitution itself. Stupid ruling, but will get people thinking at least. I can't understand how 'God' is promoting any religion, unless the very of idea of theism offends. If only people read the constitution like we preterist read our bibles! Words and meanings of words change: why not figure out what was meant, then deal with it.

Corey_X's picture

I would add that as we understand the constitution today, the ruling however stupid, is correct. Another reason to get your kids out of gov't schools.

Virgil's picture

Actually even requiring a student to say the pledge (I assume that's what you meant) is NOT unconstitutional. Prayer and bible study was part of a required curriculum for many years until just last century, when the liberals took over the country.

If the founding fathers that were alive for quite a while after the constitution was drafted had a problem with bible being studied in schools, they would have said something, but there is absolutely no writing from any of the founding fathers to object to fact the opposite is true.

Corey_X's picture

Maybe the founding fathers were raptured.

Val's picture

LOL. You are a joy to have around my friend.

Val (Mike) Smith

Val's picture

The problem with America today is that its citizens (Christian as well) have no concept of historical context. How can ANYONE "interpret" the Constitution without the Federalist Papers?

In addition, the "separation of Church and State" is not found in our Constitution, it was in the constitution of the former Soviet Union.

The establishment clause is found in the Bill of Rights. The majority of Americans have no clue as to WHY Madison wrote the Bill of Rights. In case anyone here doesn't know, it was to protect the States from a Centralized Federal Government. 11 of the original 13 states HAD STATE RELIGIONS!!!! And Virginia (home of Madison, Jefferson, and Washington), one of those that did not have a state church, required all officeholders to be professing Christians.

The religious oath clause in the Constitution was not to ensure the election of Atheists, but instead to ensure that NO DENOMINATION would take control of our nation, and force all of the Free States to practice their denominational practices.

And finally, the Constitution itself says, "In the Year of our Lord..." Funny thing for anti-religionists to say, don't you think?

With these FACTS, clearly documented in history books and the Federalist Papers, how can anyone make the claim that mentioning God anywhere in our public arena is unconstitutional? Morons. Just plain Morons

Val (Mike) Smith

dkpret's picture

Amen and Amen! Excellent post! I made these very comments to a young man in a study last night. I noted that what we have in far far too many judiciary posts today are political activists. They have no concern over the actual constitution, as is evident from this moronic ruling. They impose their concept of things on their rulings, and call it "constitutional." What is so distressing is that Daschle is now holding up the judiciary appointments of pres Bush, and he is doing it, because he supports this kind of political activism, that is, as long as he agrees with it! He is one of those who says "We cannot apply a "litmus test" to judiciary appointees, and then rejects Bush's nominees because they are all conservatives! If that is not applying a litmus text, I am at a loss to know what is.
What we are seeing in America is the continuing secularization of our society, being imposed by atheists and secular activists. In truth, many, (certainly not all of course), of these men, do not actually want just a separation of church and state, they want religion removed. They are anti-religious.
As you have well stated, moronic, just moronic!

Virgil's picture

And Don, if I may continue on this line of thinking, I think the reason for what we see happening today in America is the failure of the church to do its job and to understand the realized nature of Christ's kingdom. Christians are clearly a LARGE majority in this country, yet somehow we managed to let atheists take over every aspect of the society. Why? Because Jesus will be coming back to fix it all anyways, so why should we be involved and vote for the right people?

dkpret's picture

No doubt about it Virgil, and I thought about adding that to my post. I told the congregation here Wednesday night that the pulpits in America have been powerless for sometime. There is no challenge to holy living, no challenge to serious thought. It is fluff. And the reason? To anyone who knows the first thing about this, one of the chief reasons is because the seminaries of the world are manned by skeptics and liberals convinced that Biblical eschatology is a failed eschatology. To them the question of the Deity of Jesus and the inspiration of scripture, and thus the question of Biblical authority over man's moral life, is a dead issue. Jesus failed, the apostles were deluded, the Bible is irrelevant. And thus, the official publication of the Disciples of Christ published, several years ago, that the Bible cannot be used as an authoritative book of doctrine or morality. The only thing that counts is "Jesus is Lord." (Of course, they quoted from that unreliable, uninspired, non-authoritative book when they made that declaration!!)
The implications of the preterist view, for restoring confidence in God's Word, are profound. What is so bitterly ironic is that we preterist, who boldly affirm the Deity of Jesus and inspiration of scriptures, are the ones called the heretics, by men such as Thomas Ice, when in fact it is the futurist camp (specifically the dispensational camp) that says Jesus failed to do what he came to do, when he came to do it! Talk about an upside down situation!! I for one think it high time to make people realize who it is that is actually guilty of impugning the Word of God!

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