Red Baiting

I pledge alleience to God

The liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance is not a government endorsement of religion, even though not all religions believe in God and many Americans are not religious.

The dissenting judge understood what’s really going on here, even if his two colleagues pretend otherwise. In his dissent, Stephen Reinhardt wrote:

All that would be required would be the deletion of the two words added by an amendment designed to promote religion and to indoctrinate schoolchildren with a religious belief.

I’ve always been troubled by two things about the Pledge of Allegiance.

First of all, why does “the freest country in the world” and “the greatest nation on Earth” (according to conservative “wisdom”) even require a loyalty oath? They are generally required by fascist, communist, and totalitarian regimes.

Pardon me, but your subconscious is showing.

My second concern, of course, is the inclusion of the malevolent deity in a patriotic oath. By declaring that the United States is subservient to God, we are actually swearing allegiance to God.

As much as I believe that the Supreme Bastard needs to be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance, I’m worried that Michael Newdow’s suit will fail, especially if it succeeds.

The Americans United blog agrees with my concerns:

While the lead opinion is not well reasoned, some observers think it was inevitable. Advocates of church-state separation have been divided over Newdow’s strategy. Newdow seemed to think he could prevail before the Supreme Court. But anyone can look at the composition of the conservative Roberts’ court and see that that is highly unlikely.

And what if the Supreme Court did concur and strike down “under God”? How would Congress react? In 2002, when Newdow won his first case, members of the House of Representatives and Senate in both parties practically tripped over themselves to condemn the ruling.

Had the ruling stood, some type of ill-considered constitutional amendment would have been inevitable. Could we have stopped it? Given that most state legislatures quickly passed resolutions attacking the “under God” ruling, I wouldn’t bet my rights on that.

They then make an overly-optimistic statement:

The day may come when “under God” is removed from the Pledge – not by a court ruling but simply because our increasingly diverse society realizes it’s wrong to recklessly mix religion and patriotism.

But at least they qualify their optimism:

But that day is not coming any time soon.

Yesterday’s expected miscarriage of justice gives me the opportunity to present something else that I’ve been meaning to put in this blog since day one. Red Skelton was well-known in Hollywood for his conservative leanings. Here is a clip from his TV show in 1969. You can watch the whole thing if you want, but I’ve set this clip to start at the noteworthy part at 3:23.

19 Responses to “Red Baiting”

  1. Syldoran Says:

    The past couple of years in school I’ve refrained from saying the pledge in the mornings with the announcements. Surprisingly, nobody has tried to shoot me in the head yet.

    What’s even more surprising is that since this school year began, the pledge hasn’t been done. I’m very curious as to why (although not complaining).

    I await the day when nobody will be expected to say it, because why the hell do we need to?

  2. Brian Says:

    I’ve made this point here before, and I’ll make it again now. Isn’t it curious how Christians who are absolutely certain that they’ll spend eternity in Heaven with Jesus aren’t satisfied with that? You’d think once your eternal well-being was secured you wouldn’t worry so much about the little things, like what goes on here on Earth.

  3. Jeff Eyges Says:

    Brian, that’s because imposing their will (which they convince themselves is God’s) upon the rest of society is one of the tactics they use to try to save themselves from having to confront any challenges to their beliefs, and thereby stave off the doubt that threatens constantly to overtake them. It’s one of the hallmarks of addiction.

    Otherwise, they don’t care about what happens on or to the earth – as evidenced by their cavalier attitude toward the environment. The few evangelicals who are taking an interest in it are viewed with suspicion by the rest – “Are they REAL Christians?”

  4. Troy Says:

    While the controversy is supposed to be about the words “Under God” in the whole the “Pledge of Allegiance” reeks. Whether it is as it was originally a secular mantra or the new and improved theist mantra it is the most misguided worthless piece of drivel. It usually is done only in the lowest grades and the words aren’t explained. Considering the mantra is done every day in school and is not understood why not instead have a daily reading from the constitution? At least there is an educational component there rather than a complete waste of time. After all the constitution is “the republic for which it stands” Of course there is no god in there or requirement for allegiance but that just goes to show don’t settle for imitations pursue the source.

  5. sue blue Says:

    Who still recites this thing? I remember having to do it up until about the 4th grade (1970), then never again. My daughter claims she’s never had to say it in school. I thought it was only done at NASCAR races and football games in Texas. Wait, I did hear it at my nephew’s high-school graduation ceremony…in Houston. These must be the same people who insist on having tributes to Sky-Daddy inscribed on our money. I always found that ironic too…filthy lucre and all.

  6. CybrgnX Says:

    I prefer this one…

    I pledge allegiance
    to the Constitution of the United States of America,
    and to the republic which stands by its principles
    one nation, indivisible,
    with liberty and justice for all…eventually.

    I put this together to say when requested.
    When people look at me strangely we get a conversation going about it. And why I changed it. The ‘eventually’ was added because of the schoolboy who refused to say the pledge because his mom says not to lie.

  7. rayceeya Says:

    Good point, However I almost wanted to scream when he got to the part about the republic,

    “… A state in which sovereign government is chosen by the people to be governed”

    Here in the 21st Century I would ask, “Chosen by which people?”

    I like to think that given the choice most people would vote for the person who would be truly be for the people that person represents, unfortunately, I fear voters today are offered restricted choices in who they “can” (I say “can” only because you always get the option for a write in) vote for.

    Reality is a Campaign costs money and more often than not that money comes from self interested rich people. Choices become limited to Candidate “A” backed by lobbying group “B”, or Candidate “C” backed by lobbying group “D”, and the whole, the greater population suffers to special interests.

  8. The Runaway lawyer Says:

    All grades recite it here in Texas followed by a moment of silence where the children are encouraged to use the time to “pray or reflect…”

    But seriously – look what we’re dealing with: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/12/texas-education-board-app_n_497440.html

    I’m planning to blog about that, but frankly I’m too pissed off right now.

  9. OtherRob Says:

    We recited the pledge every day when I was in school (in central Florida) — though I was done before the moment of silence craze began.

  10. Parrotlover77 Says:

    I’m as surprised as sue blue that anybody still recites this thing. It seems, at least, that it’s starting to fall out of favor with the exception of the southern states. (I hope!)

    I will say, to those that say ZOMG only dictatorships have an alleigance pledge! Technically true, sure. But today, nobody is actually swearing allegiance to anything (from an emotional GO USA point of view). It’s just a morning tradition that has no meaning. Every country has their historical quirks that run contrary to a true free democracy/republic. Christ, at least we don’t have a royal family! The pledge is annoying, but it doesn’t cost tax payer dollars for a bunch of pomp!

    So don’t get me wrong, I want to see it GONE. But let’s not go overboard either. I don’t think any children are growing up brainwashed zombies due to the pledge. No, it takes a Bible and Sunday to do that.

  11. Arizona Atheist Says:

    Fantastic post. I couldn’t agree more. I’m shocked that even these judges who are appointed, mind you, to uphold the constitution aren’t following it! If I wasn’t so used to this kind of favoritism for religion over what the constitution actually says, I’d go insane. But at the same time I’m not surprised. As I’m fond of arguing, the constitution is nothing but a piece of paper. It’s not going to stop a bullet and it’s not going to stop anyone from trampling all over your rights and freedoms. Those in power ultimately decide the rules and that’s that, no matter what limitations some document lays out. That’s one thing so many don’t seem to understand when they’re complaining about ever increasing discarding of the constitution.

    I agree with Parrotlover77 to a degree about the pledge mostly just being a leftover tradition, however, I do recall when I was a child being forced to say the pledge and if I didn’t do it “right” I was scolded by my teacher. If it didn’t mean anything why the actions by my teacher? Of course that was a long time ago and I don’t know what schools are like today, but I’m sure there are still some teachers out there like that, and it’s wrong for them to force a child to “pledge alliegence” to anything.

  12. sue blue Says:

    When I went to my nephew’s high-school graduation in Houston in 2003, there were about 4,000 students and their parents in this huge stadium. All were white (at least all that I could see). There was a great deal of flag-waving, brass-band renditions of patriotic songs, speechifying by “inspirational” figures like local mega-church pastors, a seemingly endless plea to the sky-daddy to bless the proceedings and all the lilly-white graduates and to help them all become successful lawyers, doctors, Wall Street Bankers, and corporate businessmen…and True Christians, too. Then the pledge. This was all done from a stage draped with twin American flags hung vertically, eerily similar to the Nazi flags in the background of Hitler’s speeches in the old newsreels. And this was in a supposed “hotbed” of liberal livin’ in Houston. Made me glad to be living as far away from Texas as one can get and still be in the lower 48.

  13. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Crap, sue blue. Did you have to Godwin this thread already? lol.

    Arizona Atheist – I agree that there are probably still teachers that do that and they should not. My general gritted teeth acceptance of the remaining existence of the pledge as an outdated tradition should not be confused with being okay with forcing kids to recite it in any shape or form. I agree that should not be the case. The only somewhat acceptible scenario I could see — and I freely admit that it could easily be abused — would be memorizing it in the spirit of memorizing the preamble during a government section of social studies. In other words, busy work! :-)

  14. The Runaway Lawyer Says:

    I see you can appreciate what I’m dealing with here, Sue. *sigh*

  15. moo Says:

    I stopped saying the Pledge of Allegiance when it was done every Wednesday at my high school. For a great portion of my life I did it without question, because that was what was ordered of us.

  16. Holytape Says:

    I always thought making kids say the pledge was thrown out, not because of the religious part, but because it was forced political speech. I never understood it as a kid, and now I find it creepy, especially when kids say it. At least they aren’t doing the original salute that was supposed to go with the pledge.

    Pac-Devil

  17. Mesila Says:

    The following comment – while containing nothing obscene – is blasphemy:

    The whole of the US political establishment, and virtually all outlets of the major news media, continue to operate under an overriding assumption that we are not only non-atheists, but that we automatically worship only the “one God” called Yahweh, the singular God of Judeochristiandom.

    According to the literature that the “Yahweh” entity promulgates (The Holy Bible, first five chapters thereof) it appears that this Yahweh God is so insecure about the position “He” has occupied in civilization–compared to that of the other Gods that people have observed throughout history–that in the primary writ of all Yahwism, one will read an essential list of ten absolute behaviour requirements (the Ten Commandments) and the very first one is:

    “You must follow ME first, before any other God”.
    Thus Yahweh not only admits there ostensibly ARE other extant Gods, but insists in the tone of a crabby, surly bully that he – Yahweh – has to be the ONLY one society recognizes. If Y. was so great, would he need to make rules like that? Sounds really weak, to me.

    Admittedly, some of the competition, like Baal for example, didn’t have much to recommend them, but the tree-goddess Ashtoreth wasn’t really so bad. And what about all the rest of them, the ones that got snuffed out in antiquity to make room for monopolistic Yahweh? I hold that if “God” is presumed actual, there are also untold squillions of other such entities out there. Maybe it’s time for some of the other Gods to play a role in our spiritual practices. This one seems to lead to a whole lot of nastiness and not much positivity to offset it. If you don’t believe me read the Bible for a while…

    Since they only exist in the xenodimensional zones, to say much about the Gods in human terms is going to always sound really silly, and usually vastly incorrect anyway – so you might as well be atheists, when you get right down to it…

    Unless you have found yourself aware, in some deep and profoundly personal way, of one or more of the other Gods that’s not widely known, and discovered that in addition to having a much better temperament and a more rational way of relating to worshipers than Yahweh, it/they also possess what Yahweh and Clone lack totally: a sense of humor.

    I believe the Creation has actually never ended, and the End Days began at the same time Creation started, and will also always go on happening. They things never started and shall never stop. They are from a dimension outside of linear Time.

    But between creation and destruction one can find quiet, profound moments/places – zones when/where the mind can stand with one’s God* and be amazed…and even perhaps at peace!

    *Preferably one of the alternate ones rather than “the incumbent” “Mr. Y” — with that taste for the scent of burning animal flesh “He” has…as well as that sordid penchant for playing cruel games with “His” sentient creations – not to mention the habit of taking all the credit for making this whole schmeer in the first place, when it was so obviously a committee project.

  18. nazani14 Says:

    Again I feel compelled to insert my pinko veteran opinion. What, exactly, is the allegiance of a minor worth? A kid’s legal status is pretty shaky. Unless a kid has access to state secrets or expresses a desire to take up arms against the US, this pledge is worthless. People lie, too- I suspect that all our home-grown terrorists recited the pledge.

  19. Steve Says:

    In Wisconsin in the 1960-70′s in my school district, they started the school day with the pledge. I never stood and never said a thing. By the time I graduated, they had stopped it. The S.Ct. said about 50+ years ago that the government could not compel people to pledge allegiance to anything.

    In PA, we still often get complaints from parents and children that the local school district is trying to force them to pledge. Now and again we have to go to court over it. We do not lose.

    Why do local lawyers in odd places still attempt to support these religious fanatics in imposing their faith on others?

    Its funny, I think they might actually believe that God is going to get personally involved.