The US Supreme Court says it will take up one of the most emotional legal questions to arise in many years: whether the Pledge of Allegiance, as recited by schoolchildren for half a century, should be banned. At issue, two words: “Under God.”
Listening to a right-wing radio station (WBAL AM 1090) this morning, I was stunned to hear the on-air newscaster present views from only one side of the issue. Soundbite after soundbite from listeners decried the possibility of losing the pledge they’ve always said. One upset USA-Firster even said, “The pledge is the way it has always been.”
The words “under God” were inserted into the pledge in the 1950s as part of then-Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s anti-Communist investigations. Frankly, I don’t buy into the mandatory pledging of fealty to a manmade construct; I don’t do the pledge to the flag (which means nothing to me, as its claim — “with liberty and justice for all” — is nothing more than a fantasy in the US, and I see the flag as being representative of a big, ugly lie). But when the nation is filled with many people who don’t buy into the concept of God and many of those who do are from varying faiths, the whole “under God” thing becomes merely a smack upside the head of those who do believe in freedom and equality for all. (And having been smacked, literally and figuratively, for refusing to take part in the pledge, I know this to be true.)
Bottom line: The US was founded on the principle of religious freedom — but, regardless of what some fundamentalist Christians may say, it was not founded as a Christian or Judeo-Christian nation. The founders themselves were a mottley assortment of men who believed many different things — some were Deists, some were Christians, some were freethinkers.
The pledge served its purpose (which I suspect is nothing more than keeping the sheep in check) for decades without the inclusion of “under God — and those words were inserted only because of hatred, intolerance, fear, and citizen control.
If the SCOTUS is smart, it will excise the offending words and allow God-worshippers to be “under God” in their own homes, in their own churches, mosques, halls, and temples, and in their own way. But it is immoral for the nation to insist that people who hold differing beliefs must be represented by something that excludes them. If the court refuses to cut the words, it ought to ban the whole pledge outright.