Nothing says ‘divisible’ like ‘under God’ | The Washington Post

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As a baseball-loving elementary school student in the early 1950s, two apparently unrelated changes became part of my daily life. The Cincinnati Reds transformed into the Cincinnati Redlegs, and the words “under God” were added to the Pledge of Allegiance. Actually, they were related—to the fear of Communism then prevalent in the United States during the shameful McCarthy era.


Patriotism, at the time, was often displayed through symbolic gestures that distinguished us from the Soviet Union. Both the Cincinnati team and the Soviet Union were “Reds,” and we didn’t want anyone in 1953 to believe participants in our national pastime could be card-carrying members of the Communist Party. It’s a wonder we didn’t remove a color and give two cheers for a new version of “Old Glory” in just white and blue. By 1959 our national chromatic fears had diminished, so the team once again became the Cincinnati Reds, their original name when they joined the National League in 1890.

Besides being red, the Soviet Union was also godless. So in 1954 our politicians added “under God” to the “one nation, indivisible” Pledge of Allegiance, which was originally written in 1892, only two years after the Reds entered the National League. And thus we turned our unifying and inclusive secular pledge into a divisive and exclusive religious pledge that public school students were expected to recite every day.

Here my analogy ends. Professional baseball teams are private, and it’s none of the government’s business what a team calls itself. The Reds changed their name for a silly reason and wisely returned to their traditional name, but that was their choice. They can change their name to the “Under God Reds” if they want, though they would lose a lot of atheist fans. On the other hand, public schools are not private. The government funds public schools and it must not imply to students or their parents that the government favors one religion over another or religion over non-religion.

Recent court cases have argued that the pledge should be declared unconstitutional, and perhaps brought back to the traditional “one nation, indivisible” form. A lower court agreed with attorney Michael Newdow, bringing suit on behalf of his school-aged daughter, that the phrase “under God” in the pledge constitutes an endorsement of religion, and therefore violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. However, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled Newdow on procedural grounds, citing that he did not have custody of his daughter after a divorce and therefore didn’t have the right to bring suit on her behalf.

Written By: Herb Silverman
continue to source article at washingtonpost.com

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    • In reply to #1 by Roedy:

      Does not the law have to be consistent? How can that pledge jibe with the pledge of allegiance? Is it just that nobody has wanted to blow a few million on a court case?

      Unfortunately, it is more difficult than that. The religious politicians know this is unconstitutional, but just like singing “God Bless America” during all the baseball games, keeping these religious trappings has emotional traction with the religious part of the public. They have used the legal issue of “standing” to block these cases from going all the way, as Silverman mentions in the Newdow case (all the way to the SCOTUS only to be thrown out on “standing”).

      It will get fixed, at some point in the future, when the power of the religious in the court system eases off. This case in State court is a good step to put issues out in the open.

  1. There is a distinction between the God of Love and religion. Atheist democratic societies have caused more war than the supposedly religious societies which went before. I abhor all forms of religion and the kind of followers who blindly obey rules and tyrannical leaders. God’s Law says: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself’ or if you have a problem with ‘love’, ‘Do as you would be done by’. Sharp observers will note this covenant is in fact an atheistic covenant which does not mention ‘God’.

    By the way, there is no dichotomy between science, reason and God. Science is an attempt to understand God’s creation. God’s Law is based in reason (see the Third and Final Testament, pp 28-29. It is man’s law that has abandoned reason:

    ‘Up to the 3rd edition [Black's Law], case law is subject to the force of a maxim, which means it is subject to reason. After that, the position has reversed: a maxim only carries authority if it is part of case law. No reason or authority is quoted for this about turn. Crucially, it gives precedence to a previous ruling whether or not it is just and works in practice – a perverted form of case law – over wisdom, reason and experience.

    • In reply to #2 by TherealChrist:

      There is a distinction between the God of Love and religion. Atheist democratic societies have caused more war than the supposedly religious societies which went before. I abhor all forms of religion and the kind of followers who blindly obey rules and tyrannical leaders. God’s Law says: ‘Love yo…

      How do you “know” “gods law”, oh that’s right the bible or what’s it called – organised religion. We don’t need your make believe friend the golden rule predates your specific brand of foolishness.

    • In reply to #2 by TherealChrist:

      There is a distinction between the God of Love and religion.

      Well, that started out fairly well. But then it all turned to crap, as other responders have noted. TRC, you’ve got a way to go in terms of learning how to discuss matters with folks who don’t buy into the mindset and terminology of the overtly religious. We’re sick to the back teeth of preacher-speak.

      But the point you’re trying to make, I think, is the same as the one summarized in the “Atheists for Jesus” slogan. The “love thy neighbor” concept was credited to the Jesus character of the new testament volume of the christian bible, as I vaguely recall from school. But a book is still just a book, no matter how many fans it has.

      You should be aware that the G-word is not something you can just toss into a sentence round here, as there is no consensus on what – if anything – it is supposed to mean.

      • In reply to #11 by The Truth, the light:

        In reply to #2 by TherealChrist:

        Atheist democratic societies have caused more war than the supposedly religious societies which went before.

        Really? Care to name some of them?

        I wouldn’t hold my breath for those examples. Hyperbole at best.

    • What utter drivel.

      In reply to #2 by TherealChrist:

      There is a distinction between the God of Love and religion. Atheist democratic societies have caused more war than the supposedly religious societies which went before. I abhor all forms of religion and the kind of followers who blindly obey rules and tyrannical leaders. God’s Law says: ‘Love yo…

    • In reply to #2 by TherealChrist:

      There is a distinction between the God of Love and religion. Atheist democratic societies have caused more war than the supposedly religious societies which went before. I abhor all forms of religion and the kind of followers who blindly obey rules and tyrannical leaders. God’s Law says: ‘Love yo…

      Exodus 22:24 And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.

      Yep, definitely your loving God! Ooops, cherry picking- also taking the bible out of context.

  2. There is a distinction between the God of Love and religion. Atheist democratic societies have caused more war than the supposedly religious societies which went before. I abhor all forms of religion and the kind of followers who blindly obey rules and tyrannical leaders. God’s Law says: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself’ or if you have a problem with ‘love’, ‘Do as you would be done by’. Sharp observers will note this covenant is in fact an atheistic covenant which does not mention ‘God’.

    I sure hope you have evidence to back up that claim, as well as what you consider to be atheist democratic societies.

    Fascinating by the way, that you hate religion but insists on quoting from it’s books to justify your claims…

    Also, are you omitting the current theocratic societies for a reason?

    By the way, there is no dichotomy between science, reason and God. Science is an attempt to understand God’s creation. God’s Law is based in reason (see the Third and Final Testament, pp 28-29. It is man’s law that has abandoned reason:

    No, that is your assertion of the subject. You would have to demonstrate that there is a God’s creation for science to be searching for as opposed to the universe we live in which has never been demonstrated to be a creation of any deity. You aren’t stating fact, mere posing opinion as if it were fact.

    ‘Up to the 3rd edition [Black's Law], case law is subject to the force of a maxim, which means it is subject to reason. After that, the position has reversed: a maxim only carries authority if it is part of case law. No reason or authority is quoted for this about turn. Crucially, it gives precedence to a previous ruling whether or not it is just and works in practice – a perverted form of case law – over wisdom, reason and experience.

    By the by, is there a reason why we should be taking any of the books you’re citing seriously? And are you trying to use court law to govern universal forces? You do realize that is not how the laws of physics works don’t you?

    In either case you should probably prove the god in your position before assuming anything else.

  3. “There is a distinction between the God of Love and religion”

    Yes indeed, if you are referring to the Abrahamic god of the Bible, then it is the most vicious, unpleasant, hatefilled character in all fiction; and the organised religions which follow it are the political movements/business enterprises set up to control the thinking of large groups of people to make them receptive to having their money stolen.

    The distinction is that one is a lie that does not exist, the other exists and uses lies to perpetuate itself. You are a victim of both.

  4. Let me be very clear here. The words “under God” is establishment by the government. It gives state sanction to monotheism over other theism. Therefore this should be stricken from the pledge, as well as the currency. I guess they could change the word “God” to “God(s)” to accommodate the nuance of language here; but, it does seem rather silly that some people need to hold their religious views as more important than non-religious views. It only demonstrates how weak their own convictions really are, that they need to engage in applying this nonsense to things people must use in a secular society.

  5. One other point I always have to remind people of is that the Declaration of Independence says “endowed by “””their”” Creator”. If it was meant to endorse monotheism it would simply have read “endowed by “””the””” Creator. The use of the word “their” is a nuance in written language that those, (who are frankly less literate than others) have trouble comprehending. Some people can be avid, well read individuals; however, many demonstrate trouble with basic reading comprehension!

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