That's what all the shouting is about.
The two words, "under God," inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance during the Dwight D. Eisenhower administration are what have placed us in the pickle we're in today. If Ike had left well enough alone and not disturbed the beautifully written 1892 version the courts would never have fussed with our pledge.
On Tuesday a federal appeals court panel ruled that it was unconstitutional for schoolchildren to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
For more than 60 years the original pledge served quite nicely without any reference to God. Then our politicians got involved.
The elected officials of the 1950s, almost exclusively white, middle-aged, Protestant, men, felt the need to equate citizenship and allegiance to the United States with a belief in God.
While their intentions may have been good the debate over the insertion of the words "under God" probably weakened a good pledge.
As vital as religion is to our society, a belief in God is not necessary to be a good citizen. Belief in God is a personal choice. If it comes from government pressure rather than from the heart then it's not a very strong belief.
Just because many of us have strong religious beliefs, do all good Americans have to share those beliefs? No.
There's a strong tradition of mixing religious and patriotic ideals in our nation. It's only natural. But the Pledge of Allegiance is different than singing "God Bless America" or "America the Beautiful." The pledge is similar to an oath. Citizens are asked to stand and recite their allegiance to the United States. Should they also be asked to profess a belief in God? No.
The ruling doesn't prevent anyone from worshipping God. Churches remain open. Private prayer flourishes in homes and at work places throughout America. The court ruling suggests that a Pledge of Allegiance, one that government often asks citizens to recite, is not the best place to profess a belief in God for the obvious reason that many Americans don't believe in God.
It's a political no-brainer to condemn the latest court ruling relating to the Pledge of Allegiance. Most analysts agree this ruling will be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court or reversed by the full 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. No politician is going to risk his or her career by backing a court ruling that's likely to be Dead On Arrival when it reaches a higher court.
I can't help but wince as I witness the spectacle of members of the Congress tripping over themselves to get the to Capitol steps to recite the pledge with added emphasis on the words "under God."
That's great. Our courageous leaders are demonstrating that they're patriotic and religious in one fell swoop. Now, if time permits, they might want to try their hand at issues that are a little more difficult such as our troubled economy, the war on terrorism, affordable housing and accessible medical care.
The First Amendment of the Constitution is unambiguous about the separation of church and state: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."
As John Henry Faulk wrote "There ain't hardly no way you can wrestle with (the wording of the First Amendment) and say, 'Well it don't really mean that, does it?"
It means it. And although nobody wants to be labeled "anti-God" common sense and the Constitution indicate that the soon to be overturned court ruling is probably right.
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