I have never felt less like an American in my life than I do today. Reading the reactions of both major political parties to the recent appeals court ruling on the pledge of allegiance makes me sick to my stomach. I am finding it hard to put into words how utterly at sea I feel regarding how my views on this issue seem to relate to the views of anyone holding a public office anywhere in the United States. The ruling, as I understand it, basically states that it is unconstitutional to make the recitation of the pledge of allegiance mandatory in public schools because it contains the phrase "under God." This is a fairly clear-cut issue. Of course it's unconstitutional. PUBLIC schools, funded by the PUBLIC, run by the GOVERNMENT, making it compulsory for children to declare their loyalty and devotion to GOD, weather they believe there is a God or not. A degree in advanced mathematics isn't required to follow the logic. We have rules about what our government can and cannot require of it's citizens. This country was originally populated by people fleeing Europe because they were sick of being hassled about their religion. In laying the ground rules for the governing of our nation, the founding fathers thought it would be a pretty good idea to make it illegal for the government to have anything to do with the religious life of it's citizens. A government run institution (public schools) forcing children to recite a public prayer (the pledge of allegiance) goes against those rules.
And while we're at it may I point out that the original pledge of allegiance made no mention of God, even though it was written by a Baptist Minister. The words "under God" were inserted by Congress in 1954 after a campaign by the Knights Of Columbus. Check out "The Pledge Of Allegiance - A Short History" by Dr. John W. Baer.
Want to make the pledge mandatory in public schools? No problem - just take out the words "under God." Done. No more problem. No-one is trying to stop anybody from reciting the pledge at home. In fact, stopping people from reciting a prayer of their own free will would be just as unconstitutional as the government forcing people to say one against their will.
‘‘What's next?" said Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. ‘‘Will our courts, in their zeal to abolish all religious faith from public arenas, outlaw 'God Bless America' too?" ---- Here's a key element that Mr. Blunt doesn't seem to have taken in: nobody is outlawing the pledge. You can say it all you want. Say it at home, say it at your church, say it with a group of friends. And when you are done saying it, sing God Bless America. Go ahead, no-one is stopping you. If any government body tries to make the singing of God Bless America compulsory, there might be a constitutional issue. Until then, no problem. Same with the pledge. It's really not as complicated as some are making it seem.
House speaker Dennis Hastert used the occasion of this ruling to declare the need for more conservative judges in the federal courts. Funny thing about that, actually; the judge who made the decision, Alfred T. Goodwin, was appointed to the court of appeals by noted liberal Richard Nixon in 1971.
The cry against this decision by the politicians in our country seems to be virtually unanimous. Maybe I'm naive, but this shocks me. I had no idea just how out of touch with the sentiment of the country I was. Of course, I should remind myself that just because politicians unanimously say one thing, that doesn't necessarily mean that the American people are all of the same mind. That's my hope, anyway.
And if I'm wrong, I'll just go hide under a rock until people realize that the inevitable results of mass Christian fundamentalism are no less grotesque than the results of religious fundamentalism of any kind.