In a little treatise I wrote last July, I was talking about religion and faith, and somewhere along the line, I mentioned an atheist who was suing to have “under God” removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. I allowed as how it was strange that he was concerned that his own value system (no, I'm not being sarcastic) was so weak that his daughter would be turned to – gasp – religion by the daily recitation of the words “under God”. Rather than ruling on the merits of his case, the Supreme Court ruled (if one call such judicial wriggling a "ruling") that, since he was not the child's custodial parent, he had no standing to file suit.
The Supremes tried to weasel out of making a decision, but they reckoned without the fact that this guy has waaaaay too much time and money on his hands. He merely talked some other parents into filing the same suit. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, or “that bunch of loonies” as they are known, once again upheld his suit, leaving it to the Supreme Court to try to weasel out of again. The Ninth Circuit seems to come up with these sorts of decisions just to see if the fossils in
Now let's consider just how nuts this whole thing is. We have a person who doesn't believe in God. That's fine. If he wants to go that route, he is entitled to do so, but not because of the First Amendment's religious protections. That amendment keeps Congress from making laws that restrict religious worship. He doesn't do religious worship, so that can't apply. However, the amendments free speech provision and other amendments allow for freedom of expression and equal rights, which allows for freedom of your beliefs, whether on politics, religion, philosophy, or who's going to win the American League pennant.
When your belief system is a non-belief system, it's a bit hard to understand how you can be threatened by the inclusion of two words in a bit of ceremony recited by children day in and day out. Most kids are cataleptic first thing in the morning and are barely cognizant of what they are saying. It's a bit of rote memorization, unfortunately, that doesn't carry the weight that it should. So, how is “under God” going to make this guy's kid (and his current clients' kids) suddenly turn into card-carrying proselytizers?
If he should somehow succeed in this case (and anything is possible these days), what next? Football players can't kneel in the end zone after they score? Baseball players can't cross themselves before stepping in to bat? Public Television can't do any programs about electing the Pope? Obviously, these things are much stronger images than “under God” in a mumbled pledge.
What makes this entire debate doubly ridiculous (and a waste of the court system's time) is that the Pledge of Allegiance in its original form did not contain the words “under God.” That was added by Congress in the early 1950's as a swipe against those Godless commies. Apparently, Congress felt that someone who was a Red pretending to be a good
Ironically, Communists have nothing against God; it's religion that scares them. If you are going to have a good dictatorship of the proletariat, sooner or later the proles are going to figure out they're getting it in the neck. Religious organizations have, in many cases, proved to be a rallying point for organized opposition to the ruling class. So religion has to be subjugated, which it was in some, but not all Soviet bloc countries. But, God? God was invoked by Stalin many times during World War II. Nothing like facing annihilation to give a guy faith in a higher power.
By the way, the words “In God We Trust” didn't appear on
There could be one ultimate irony awaiting us. Madeline Murray, the avowed atheist who went to court to stop prayer in schools many years ago, became a devote Christian. Can you imagine the fun if this guy gets religion 20 years from now and petitions the court to put “under God” back in the the Pledge?
Wouldn't surprise me a bit. When the possibility of meeting a Maker gets closer, a lot of people seem to hedge their bets.