9.19.2005

Molten hot rhetoric bound to erupt from the pledge debate.

posted by D. Mason at 12:17 PM
It seems that everyone wants to weigh in on the year old pledge debate which seems to be gaining new momentum in sunny California. On 9.15.2005 U. S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled, based on the words "under God", that the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional, being a violation of "separation of church and state". The first suit brought by atheist Michael Newdow, an attorney and a doctor, was dismissed based on the fact that he wasn't the primary guardian of his child, for whom the suit was filed. The new case however has been lodged on behalf of 3 families who also seem to have a problem with those two little words.

When I learned of this litigation, the first time around, I was shocked. How could any judge think of altering the Pledge of Allegiance just to suit some atheist, it's part of the American heritage! Yeah, I bought the rhetoric. Upon further examination though, I've found that "under God" isn't part of the pledges heritage and the pledge isn't part of the American heritage either!

The Pledge of Allegiance was penned in 1892 by a Socialist Baptist Minister, Francis Bellamy (1855 - 1931), cousin of Socialist author Edward Bellamy. The Pledge was first published in The Youth's Companion, a popular magazine owned by a former follower of Bellamys ministry, Daniel Ford. As part of his role as a Committee chairman for the National Education Association, Bellamy first introduced the pledge into the school system as a part of the 1892 Columbus day celebration program. The original pledge, as written by Mr. Bellamy reads: "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all". As you can see, if tradition is a concern, the currently accepted version of the pledge needs to be trimmed, among the casualties would be those all important two words.

Speaking of those two little words, where did they come from? The words "under God" were added by congress in 1954 at the behest of a group called the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternity. So why all the fuss?

Enter the political spinmiesters. They're everywhere you turn and you can be sure they will have plenty to say about this hot button topic, which may very well affect the John Roberts bid for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

On the right we have the GOP God Squad ready to defend an American Tradition against those left leaning pagans who want nothing more than to push separation of church and state to its absolute limit. On to the action!

In a Commentary written to GOPUSA, Thomas D. Segel notes the ACLU involvement in such matters through Newdow and then goes on to talk about the organizations roots in Communism and Socialism. He of course forgets to mention the Socialist roots of the pledge itself.

"Most Americans are not even aware of the ACLU's radical left birth and its dedication to following a communist-socialist agenda for the past 85 years. The ACLU was created at a unique gathering held in 1919 by an activist socialist named Roger Baldwin. Others of socialist-communist leaning assisted him with input at this assembly. Some participating were Elizabeth Gurley, later to become the head of the Communist Party, USA. Also at the event were the Soviet intelligence agent Agnes Smedley and Socialist Party leader Norman Thomas."


Segel then goes on to declare separation of church and state to be non-existent based on the fact that those words do not appear in the Constitution or Bill of Rights. This assertion is correct, the actual words, as they appear in the first amendment are: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". Despite what some religious groups would have us believe, these words are not vague.

Aside from mentions of heritage and ad hominem efforts to mis-direct us, I could find very little in Mr. Segels article to support the two infamous words. It seems that Mr. Segel couldn't find room to squeeze in the pro-"under God" side of things between his attacks on the people who want to remove "the words" from the pledge, who he clearly is not very fond of. He offers nothing in the way of reason as to why these words are so important to the pledge, why they should stay, what they have done to make the pledge better or more inclusive of all Americans, he didn't even tell us why he likes them so darned much.

The Left side of the argument is far more simple and straight-forward, "under God" offends them. While it is the right of every American to be offended by anything and everything they choose to let get under their skin, it is impractical for the federal government to go around catering to everyones' feelings, that's not their job. It's un-realistic for the Left to think that the government should stop to address every atheist who gets his panties in a wad over some out-dated "pledge" that half of the country doesn't even know, let alone identify with. Don't like the pledge? Don't say it, it's that simple. Sure it might bring you a little ridicule from the Zealots, but any belief that isn't worth taking a little ridicule for isn't very strong and therefore isn't worth the taxpayers money to address.

The Pledge of Allegiance is a mandatory oath, required as part of the American public school curriculum. In my experience any oath or pledge made under duress is almost always invalid in the heart of the person being forced to recite said oath. Any time spent in court fighting the merits of this forced indoctrination, written by a supporter of socialism, would be well spent. On the other hand, time spent in court fighting the details of this Un-American tradition are not only a waste of time, they're a dangerous distraction from relevant politics.

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