Pledge of Allegiance ruled unconstitutional

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Chris2, Jun 26, 2002.

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  1. Cheveyo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 29, 2001
    star 5
    Admittedly, my political knowledge is rusty, but how would allowing the 9th Circuit's decision cause an Amendment to the Constitution, when in fact it says the act was unconstitutional to begin with? Or are you referring to the two new potential lawsuits he alleges to seek?

    Treecave: Your post above... I don't think it could have been said more succinctly, specifically, accurately... that was perfect. If this was a high school or university debate, this conversation would be over! It was everything I had in my brain but couldn't get out passed the sarcasm. ;) Thanks for writing it.

    I can safely say that I believe my points of view have been ideally expressed, thanks to Treecave. Because of that, I have no need to continue this. Thank you all for your contributions, your thoughts, and your peaceful debate. Have a great afternoon!
    -ciao
  2. Cheveyo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 29, 2001
    star 5
    oh, p.s.

    Treecave: Reciting a bunch of words you don't even understand (ok, who DIDN'T think it was "invisible") has no effect on your mind.
    [face_laugh] [face_laugh] Thought that through 3rd grade!!

    Schoolkids could recite every day, "I bow before the Prince of Darkness, who stands with staves of impaled heads; glory unto he before whom the world shall tremble and death eat chocolate" and it would have exactly the same lack of impact.

    Still laughing!! good example :D :D
  3. Mister_Bunny Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 5, 2001
    star 3
    I have been reading up on a bunch of the history of our nation because of this pledge debate... the best summary to the presumption "America is a Christian nation" is this. Here's how it starts....

    The U.S. Constitution is a secular document. It begins, "We the people," and contains no mention of "God" or "Christianity." Its only references to religion are exclusionary, such as, "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust" (Art. VI), and "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" (First Amendment). The presidential oath of office, the only oath detailed in the Constitution, does not contain the phrase "so help me God" or any requirement to swear on a bible (Art. II, Sec. 1, Clause 8). If we are a Christian nation, why doesn't our Constitution say so?

    In 1797 America made a treaty with Tripoli, declaring that "the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." This reassurance to Islam was written under Washington's presidency, and approved by the Senate under John Adams.
  4. TreeCave Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2001
    star 4
    DSS, I'm not sure you need to worry about an amendment - those aren't so easy.

    I hope I'm remembering this clearly, but even if I'm off on the details, these are a couple of examples of recent failures to pass Cosntitutional Amendments.

    In the late 80's or early 90's, Congress tried to pass an anti-flag-burning amendment. Couldn't get enough votes - and the USSC said, "go right ahead, but you'll have to take it out when we rule that it violates First Amendment rights". There was discussion of a constitutional anti-abortion amendment around that time, too, but I don't think they were even able to agree on its exact meaning to get it off the ground - for example, would it make a fetus a legally live person, or just make abortions illegal, and if so would RU-486 also be illegal.... etc. Prayer in schools - very similar to this current debate - also didn't get off the ground.

    In this case, I can't imagine an amendment that would pass enough states to be ratified. I mean, what's it going to say that wouldn't also open the door for a, say, mostly Muslim or Hebrew community to worship in class and make the Christian kids feel unwelcome? Even the Congresspeople in favor would have trouble coming to agreement on wording.

    Speaking of prayer in schools, this brings up some interesting points that the Pledge issue opens the door to. Nothing can - or should - stop a person from praying silently, as that shouldn't disturb anyone else and is his right. But if you're going to say "under god" aloud, this means Judeo-Christianity is being expressed out loud in class. If that's okay, then shouldn't we set aside a few moments for orthodox Jewish kids pray out loud (a requirement for them, since their "God" doesn't hear silent praying, you see)? Shall we stop whatever we're doing at the precise moment Muslim kids need to drop and bow to Mecca in the middle of an AP exam?

    See, if everybody has to pause, take time out of their learning, and listen (if not participate) while one relgious group worships out loud, then the same courtesy must be extended to every other religious group in a given school. The last thing American schools need is anything taking away from what little actual "educating" goes on in them. And it's going to be much harder to argue that atheists' rights aren't being violated after they sit through several out-loud expressions of various religions, unless you let the atheist kids have, perhaps, a sort of non-believing show and tell. They could give little speeches - the same amount of time allocated to each religion - on thinking for yourself, or the Big Bang, or Reasons I Think If There Is a God, He's a Real Jerk. ;) I mean, seriously, this is the three-ring circus we're inviting.

    Or, if you don't like that, we could just keep religion out of school entirely and let parents take on the responsibility of seeing to their kids' spirituality. I feel exactly the same about schools teaching condom use and drug use - as much as I hate the thought of kids dying because they weren't taught either, I think the most schools should do is recommend some books or websites on those subjects. Otherwise, parents have got to take some responsibility in this country and stop expecting the govt to program their kids for them.

    Cheveyo, don't go! ;)
  5. Riley Man Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 19, 1999
    star 5
    Here's another article with some interesting points in favour of leaving 'God' out of the pledge (and other facets of American government): spectatoronline.com

    It's more than a little biased (in some places it could easily be considered inflammatory), but it does raise some good points.
  6. Darth_SnowDog Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2001
    star 4
    Excerpts from the spectatoronline.com article:

    The bizarre need of fundamentalists to make sure everyone in America expresses a belief in God remains one of life's great mysteries

    Indeed...

    I think this says it all, though:

    "[T]he Bill implies either that the Civil Magistrate is a competent Judge of Religious Truth; or that he may employ Religion as an engine of Civil policy. The first is an arrogant pretension falsified by the contradictory opinions of Rulers in all ages... the second an unhallowed perversion of the means of salvation."

    - James Madison, 1785


  7. GeistDesFritz Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Mar 25, 2002
    star 3
    Ok...I didn't read the previous pages on this thread but just thought I'd stop by and spout my opinions:

    This ruling, for all intents and purposes, is a sound ruling. From the ruling:
    "In the context of the Pledge, the statement that the United States is a nation ?under God? is an endorsement of religion. It is a profession of a religious belief, namely, a belief in monotheism. The Court is saying that to recite the Pledge is not merely to describe the United States as a nation founded by people with deeply held religious beliefs; instead, it is to actually swear allegiance to the values for which the flag stands: unity, indivisibility, liberty, justice, and ? since 1954 ? the reality of monotheism.?

    However, the constitution clearly says that
    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;"
    When Congress passed the legislation in 1954 to put the words "under God" in the pledge, it was against what the constitution says. Thus, it's unconstitutional

    Now, why I don't agree with the ruling: it's petty. There are many other and more important violations of the Constitution that actually are harming people. Saying "under God" or even hearing people say it harms no one. As Thomas Jefferson said, "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."


    This ruling will only cause people to rally around the pledge and creates ill will.
    The Ninth Court will probably, for all practical reasons, be unable to enforce it.
  8. Darth_SnowDog Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2001
    star 4
    Jefferson's entire point was that it's not harmful to exclude religious reference all together... why fundamnentalists insist on the government babysitting our morals is beyond me.

    If you assume, however, that the inclusion harms no one, you are mistaken. It harms me, and others who have stated it in here. Funny, I seem to recall some religious fundamentalists themselves who won't dare utter the word "god", or even type it, because they believe it's blasphemous... what about them? But it's not harming me because I can't bear to hear "god" being uttered... it has to do with the separation of church and state, and the fundamental reasons for that separation.

    I don't care if they don't include "one nation under Brahman" or "one nation under many gods" or "one nation of many religions"...

    The point is, I'm an agnostic, not an atheist, and yet I believe in the total exclusion of religion from the Pledge. Secondly, my most basic reason for this stance has not to do with my attitude towards the Pledge as it is... but the unconstitutionality of the law that changed it in the first place.

    It's very dangerous to establish a precedent allowing for the arbitrary dismantling of rights, especially on the basis of violations of provisions of the US Constitution, no matter how insignificant those rights may seem at the time (remember, the majority of Americans don't seem to be concerned that Muslim US Citizens are being held without due process... but if you tell Americans that the FBI wants to read their email, listen to their phone conversations and keep tabs on what library books they check out... they're aghast at the violation of our freedoms...).

    So I guess what the fundamentalists seem to be saying, in the pattern I've seen across various discussions so far... ranging from Creationism in schools, to the Ten Commandments, to invasion of privacy, to the Pledge of Allegiance, to Flag burning... is that it's ok to violate someone's rights as long as it's not them.
  9. GeistDesFritz Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Mar 25, 2002
    star 3
    I too am an agnostic, but I fail to see how the words "under God" harm you. No one has ever forced someone to say "under God"; it was merely added. Now, however, if you do say "under God," you could be punished. People could now be forced not to say it...which is another law prohibiting the free excercise of religion and a violation of their rights.
    Funny, I seem to recall some religious fundamentalists themselves who won't dare utter the word "god", or even type it, because they believe it's blasphemous... what about them?
    They simply believe that the word god is too sacred to be spoken or written casually. If the word God is written down, one should take much care to make sure that it is never erased, crummpled or mistreated.
    it has to do with the separation of church and state
    The thing is, it never once says anything in the constitution about the separation of church and state all it says is: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

    If someone wants to say this country is under god, let them. If someone doesn't want to say it, let them not say it. Moving along:

    the majority of Americans don't seem to be concerned that Muslim US Citizens are being held without due process
    This American is very concerned about that, and is just another example of how petty this ruling is. Why should we be so concerned about two words when people are having their rights suspended?

    My main point was simply that while I agree with the ruling, it simply was not worth all the trouble. The addition of "under God" in 1954 is of little importance compared to violation of privacy, such as mandatory drug tests.
    We need to distinguish between peripheral and central violations of the constitution.
  10. Darkside_Spirit Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 9, 2001
    star 3
    My main point was simply that while I agree with the ruling, it simply was not worth all the trouble. The addition of "under God" in 1954 is of little importance compared to violation of privacy, such as mandatory drug tests.
    We need to distinguish between peripheral and central violations of the constitution.


    The function of the courts is to fairly decide the cases that come before them. The executive and legislative branches tackle issues in order of priority; the courts decide cases as and when they come. If Judge Goodwin had said, "well, Newdow is right, but there are more important issues so we'll rule against him anyway", that would have discarded the principle of consistent justice. The furore this has attracted is the responsibility of the media, not the court.
  11. Darth_SnowDog Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2001
    star 4
    The thing is, it never once says anything in the constitution about the separation of church and state all it says is: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

    The words in quotes are precisely what it says, but the courts were established to further interpret the meaning of these laws, and they were established as a system of checks and balances with the consent of the people. Your quotation above is word for word why the 1954 law is unconstitutional... Congress established it, it concerns religion (is "god" not a religious construct?)... therefore it is, by definition of the aforementioned Establishment Clause, unconstitutional.

    You want to say "under god" on your own time and of your own will, be my guest. You want to teach your kids to say "god", be my guest. I will defend your right to believe whatever you want to believe.

    However, that has nothing to do with the 1954 law that was enacted... as it in and of itself is unconstitutional and should never have existed.

    It does affect me... How can you say it doesn't affect me when you are not me. Are you accusing me of lying? It may not affect you, but it affects me... and who are you to say otherwise? Who am I to say what affects you and doesn't affect you? I have made no claims that it affects you personally... but I have stated it may affect some atheists, Buddhists, Taoists, Animists, etc.

    Once again, though... this has nothing to do with its effect on me... it is about its effect on the principles upon which the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were established, and ratified by a majority consensus. There are two references to religion in our supreme law of the land... and both are expressly exclusionary.

    No exclusions or exceptions should be initiated with regard to our most basic freedoms and rights... and the right to exclude religion from state (and, inherently, politics) is at the very top of the list for a reason. It was religious influence upon government and taxation without representation which, respectively, drove our forefathers to these shores, and to the establishment of a new nation.

    By the way, many times people have brought up the Declaration of Independence for its subjective references to god (which were not carried over into Constitutional law, mind you), but they never show you the words which immediately follow that reference. Here's why:

    That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
  12. TreeCave Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2001
    star 4
    Am I missing something? Is there some reason we want to alienate people who aren't monotheists from loving America? That's what you're doing by making it awkward for them to say the Pledge. After a while, I start to feel like, "Hmm, if I have to make more effort than other Americans to be patriotic just because I'm true to myself instead of pretending to conform to the majority, maybe I don't like America."

    Don't you want to encourage patriotism?

    I think not. I think religious zealots WANT people like us out of the US. Not because our beliefs offend them, not because we're bad for the country.... but because they're not very sure of their OWN beliefs and open-mindedness scares the willies out of them.

    This is NOT directed at any of you - I'm giving all of you more credit than that. But I've encountered way to many people who are scared of my beliefs to ignore the factor. I'm not scared of, say, a Muslim's beliefs - I've studied Islam and know it has little to interest me. They're afraid if they're too exposed to my thinking, they'll realize my beliefs are just as compelling as their own, and become confused. This is why we need to teach critical thinking from kindergarten on.
  13. Darth_SnowDog Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2001
    star 4
    TreeCave: Excellent points. We do need to focus on teaching kids how to think. Giving one a fish instead of teaching one to fish either leaves them starving or hopelessly dependent on the giver.

    Hmm... I think I'm on to something there.

    "Altruism? Never heard of the man."
  14. chibiangi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 16, 2002
    star 4
    Darth_snowdog:
    Thank you SO much for the intelligent post! You summarized my points and feelings on this issue exactly.

    However, that has nothing to do with the 1954 law that was enacted... as it in and of itself is unconstitutional and should never have existed.

    Agreed 100%. I really do not see the big deal here. We go back to saying "indivisible" as in the original Pledge. That is the Pledge I grew up saying, and quite frankly, I think it's much more appropriate in the pledge than "under god". "Indivisible" implies that we are a Nation of One [People]; One that cannot be broken, divided, and destroyed. Quite frankly, the people who are up in arms about this are religious types who have an agenda.

    Secondly, I am an atheist who is also a patriot. I love my country, but if we are indeed a nation "under god", the implication is that those of us who do not believe in god or a Judeo-Christian god cannot be patriots. This unfortunate implication was expressed by none other than George Bush Sr. and it saddens and sickens me that people actually think this way.

    From: http://www.religioustolerance.org/atheist.htm
    George H.W. Bush, as Presidential Nominee for the Republican party; 1987-AUG-27: "No, I don't know that Atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."

    PS. I've posted these points on another forum here as well. Sorry for the repeat.
  15. chibiangi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 16, 2002
    star 4
    Right On tree-cave!

    100% Agreed.
  16. Darth_SnowDog Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2001
    star 4
    George H.W. Bush, as Presidential Nominee for the Republican party; 1987-AUG-27: "No, I don't know that Atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."

    He said that? America elected this un-American bigot?

    Why am I even surprised by this... The fact that Bush is a bigot is nothing new. Look at how he's buried the Enron scandal amid a flurry of promises to jail every corrupt CEO that doesn't work for one of his campaign's largest financial contributors.

    If I weren't convinced already many times over that Bush is an idiot, that quote certainly sealed the deal.
  17. chibiangi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 16, 2002
    star 4
    In all fairness, it was the Senior Bush, but IMNSHO, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
  18. Darth_SnowDog Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2001
    star 4
    Well, I realized that it was Bush Sr., but it didn't change my answer.

    :D

    EDIT: I can't believe we elected the Senior or Junior Bigot... I mean Bush... to the oval office... but who am I kidding, this is America. We are a nation of hypocrites who accept violations of rights and of the Constitution, as long as they affect everyone else and not us.
  19. Jenavira Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 26, 1998
    star 1
    Oh that's okay. George Jr. said that Wicca isn't a religion.

    "I don't think that witchcraft is a religion. I wish the military would rethink this decision."
    -- George W. Bush to ABCNEWS, June, 1999




    Jenavira
  20. CmdrMitthrawnuruodo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 1, 2000
    star 6
    I don't know if this has been said or not and I dont feel like going through 400 posts to find out.

    But here is my two cents.

    "One Nation, Under God" does not specifically point to one religion. It points to all religions. If it was meant to point to a single religion then it would say something like "One Nation, Under Jehovah" or "One Nation, Under Allah" and so forth.

    Here is a quote from an article on the subject in Newsweek that I'm really peeved about: "[Michael] Newdow wants to surgically separate religious faith from government. 'I'm as patriotic as you can get,' he said."

    Idiot. To do that then we'd all have to elect and hire and recruit nothing but atheists. And I don't think you want that because they will attempt to get rid of religion as a whole. One more step to either communisim or complete government control.

    And does he even know what patriosim means?

    This guy is a hypocrit.
  21. Master-Jedi-Smith Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 26, 2002
    star 4
    I didn't know that all atheists wanted to get rid of religion as a whole.

    Elect me, I promise not to do such a thing, but I would also promise not to have religion in our government institutions.

    Worship whatever you need to worship, but just don't let it go into the government arena.

    And just a side not, that "under God" not refering to just one God has been covered, and debated over and over again. Much like everthing you see on each page. :)

    Latre! :D
  22. Devilanse Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2002
    star 5
    Im not Un-American...but I've always hated the pledge. I'll never pledge allegiance to a flag. Why? Because flags are meaningless to me. Just so much pretty cloth flapping in the wind.

    "But the flag is the symbol of our nation!"

    NO...Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is the real backbone of this nation.

    "But people died for the flag!"

    NO, people died to make sure that Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of hapiness wasn't "Do what the King says" instead. I'd never die for a flag.

  23. Cheveyo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 29, 2001
    star 5
    Okay, I know I said I was leaving, but this one statement REEEEALLY needed to be discussed... I just can't hold in my comments! ;);)

    "One Nation, Under God" does not specifically point to one religion. It points to all religions. If it was meant to point to a single religion then it would say something like "One Nation, Under Jehovah" or "One Nation, Under Allah" and so forth.

    To this, I ask you and every other English-speaking Christian here one simple question: "What do you call your god?"

    Ummm, hmmm... let me think. Oh right, that answer would be... uhhh...

    GOD! duh! One nation, under God... please note that God is capitalized, referring to the name/title given to the Christian Deity (No other name was given to him/her/it because the Christian God, according to the Bible and every teaching from it, is supposed to be the one TRUE god, therefore, he is referred to as merely "God").

    So, yes, "One nation, under God..." does, in fact endorse the Christian religion. Off hand, I cannot think of another religion that refers to it's deities or creators as "God".

    In closing, to state that this phrase was written to include all religions does nothing but illustrate the totality of historical and theological ignorance on the part of the speaker. (Historical, because President Eisenhower addressed the issue upon its acceptance by saying, "millions of our schoolchildren will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural schoolhouse, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty.") Do you deny that the President (who has his words chosen VErrrryy carefully by his writers) said "the Almighty", a common nickname for the Christian God, but meant to say "the Almighties"?
  24. Master-Jedi-Smith Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 26, 2002
    star 4
  25. chibiangi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 16, 2002
    star 4
    I can't believe we elected the Senior or Junior Bigot... I mean Bush... to the oval office... but who am I kidding, this is America. We are a nation of hypocrites who accept violations of rights and of the Constitution, as long as they affect everyone else and not us.

    You don't have to convince me darth_snowdog :D

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