Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Pledge of Allegiance

With the controversy brewing over the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools one should be suspect of the zeal that some bring to the issue; as is captured in this petition: 'Keep "Under God" in our Pledge of Allegiance'.

The supporters of the petition are missing the point. Atheist Michael Newdow is not asking that the pledge itself be removed from public classrooms, but simply that the reference to 'God' itself, which was added in 1954, be removed from the pledge; a pledge which children are invited to recite with the tacit encouragement of a governmental institution.

In light of the fact that we are at war with religous extremists with a 'my way or the way of the blade at your throat' mentality, it's important that this country take the recent ruling as an opportunity to reaffirm foundational principles:

1. Our government has a responsibility to protect everyone's religous freedom; as long as everyone is applying the Golden Rule. To worship (or not) as one finds appropriate is and must be beyond question.

2. Governmental institutions should actively respect an obvious corollary to religous freedom; the freedom from any religous references when in a setting that is under the auspices of the government. When the government does not follow this course, a citizen should not be faulted for the interpretation that the government is providing an implied support for the religion referenced.

It is not unreasonable for a citizen to expect an areligous government absent of references to God, Allah or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

It should go without saying that every citizen has a right to recite the Pledge of Allegiance; with or without the reference to 'God' in settings that have no governmental oversight. For example, a religous ceremony, a private function and the like.

However, it is a far different thing to invite our nation's children to recite the current pledge, with its reference to 'God', when the invitation is essentially extended by the government through the auspices of a public school.

For those that find this argument specious and are still adamant, try this thought experiment: Replace 'God' with 'Allah' or 'Christ' in the pledge. Hopefully, the experiment is thought provoking at a minimum.

Restoration of the original pledge would be conservatism at its best.


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