From: Lori, 20 April 2011
I just wanted to say thank you! I was on my facebook page and one of my friends posted a chain status about keeping the "under god" in the Pledge. I was about to repost when I decided to look into it further and came across your page. VERY INSIGHTFUL! I used some of your information to reply to the post so that maybe others could see that it's really not about offending god but rather keeping to the constitution that was written. Keep your head up, there are people out there that support you
Sarah W., 28 April 2009
To be sure, as a self-proclaimed patriot of democracy, I feel the desire to restore the Pledge of Allegiance to it's original form as written by it's author Francis Bellamy (A Christian Socialist author and Baptist minister) in 1892, is a really good democratic idea. I admire the intelligent and well thought-out protection of an individual's personal religious rights that exists in the 1st Amendment. The founders had already experienced the unjust tyranny of a country trying to impose itself on their right to practice their religion in their own way. They meant to ensure that no one should feel so disrespected for their beliefs by separating church and state. They did it to keep the government nuetral on such matters and out of the personal affairs of people's beliefs. Neutrality is not hostility. Those who might suggest that it is either unpatriotic or unChristian to take out "under God" from the Pledge might want to try substituting "Allah" or "Buddah" for "God" and experience the perspective of someone who feels words are being put in their mouth by their government - a government that was formed by people who were escaping religious oppression!
I also consider myself a humanist, and believe that everyone's cultural, religious (or secular) beliefs are part of a fascinating diversity that makes up the human race. For better or worse we're all human, and it just feels as though now more than ever, as we are faced with global poverty, impending epidemics tied with overpopulation, war, environmental crisis, and threats to global commmons (like water), the world could use a lot more compassion, tolerance, and understanding of one another.
God is in no danger by making the Pledge more universal (so-to-speak). Before Congress changed it a mere 54 years ago the Pledge of Allegiance was essentially the same, just secular. So I guess it just feels like the original author got it right, because in a sense then any American can say it without feeling his/her personal right to religious free thought is at risk. The original is still eloquent and has the desired effect by uniting us under a pledge of honor to each other, our country, and our democratic way. I am a firm believer in equal rights for our country and I don't think we should forget why.
Kirsten, 26 April 2008
Jeff, 14 Mar 2008
Thank you for your support. If you want to be more active in supporting the First Amendment right of "separation of church and state", in addition to always speaking out for it, may we suggest looking into organizations such as "Americans United for Separation for Church & State" http://www.au.org or the Freedom from Religion Foundation" http://ffrf.org/
JoAnn, 3 Mar 2008
If Christians loved America, they would fight to make sure that no government official or government body promoted any specific religious belief.
Christians hate the equality that America stands for. They only want supernaturalists to have their symbols displayed. Christians hate freedom of religion unless it's their own.
It seems to me for a FACT that Christians hate America.
Tara Wed, 5 Dec 2007
Well.... I accept you have a different opinion. However, this is not a discussion board, so I get to have the final word. Some of the responses may seem like attacks, but the reason they do is that a lot of people seem to be devoid of any understanding of the Constitution and especially the Bill of Rights. All beliefs are open to attack, especially if they lack reasonableness. As for grammar, well, judge for yourself.
The First Amendment reads "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". This is the law of the land. Congress passed a law in 1954 adding God to the Pledge and many other places. This was a violation of the First Amendment. It established (i.e. promoted) one belief system over others. People are free to believe what they want, government and its officials are not free to promote their religion using there official capacity. The First Amendment is a right and is NOT open to a vote. Any motions to circumvent the 1st Amendment would be unconstitutional.
This is exactly what freedom and democracy mean - that NO ONE CAN USE THE GOVERNMENT TO FORCE ANYONE TO BELIEVE IN ANYTHING. You are free to believe anything you want, but God doesn't belong on our money or in our Pledge. The point is that the money is printed by MY government and it should not reflect the beliefs of anyone. Our government should treat all of us equal. Equality is a pillar of democracy. I should not have to "not spend" money because it has a religious statement on it, and my children should not have to listen, or be singled out for not participating, when the Pledge (with god in it) is recited. That is wrong and un-American.
FROM: Jill - 6/14/07.
I AM IN COMPLETE SUPPORT OF REMOVING THE WORDS One Nation Under God from the pledge!
I have been an atheist all my life and am a patriot! Remove all mentions of Gods and all other demonic symbols from the US symbols, mottos, seals and tax paid buildings.
Traveling in support of the US Department of Defense, I have lived east to Istanbul, west to California.
Through this life first as a Navy Brat and then later as a Defense Contractor I can tell you I have seen and experienced the horrors of countries that do not separate religion and government. One of the very foundations of the first people who came to the country to begin a new life was the escape of religious tyranny. Elizabeth I murdered anyone who was a Catholic. The Scotts murdered anyone that was Protestant and both murdered anyone who was not Christian.
I support Freedom from Religion! People who stand there and tell me that the Pledge and the Motto do not define who or what God is do not get it! I and millions like me do not believe in any super natural being! Therefore, the current Pledge and Motto are in fact prejudicial against atheists!
There are also theories that the Freemasons, descendents of the Knight Templar founded the U.S. and they have interwoven Masonic symbols into American society, particularly in national seals, streets in Washington DC, architecture, and the Dollar Bill. You are content to support a secret society that includes bonds with the KKK and the Skull and Bones Society? I am not! I would have these symbols removed from our currency, seals and mottos!
I often wonder how religion would survive in this country if they were not living tax-free! I resent as an atheist that I have to support something I do not believe in!
In closing I add this thought for you to ponder:
Without a God, a good person will still be good, and a bad person will still be bad.
With a God, a good person will do bad things, like murder in the name of that God, while a bad person will still be the same bad person.
I, demand Freedom from Religion! I do not want to be associated with organizations that condone war and mass murder in the name of deity! AND with that Freedom you can still practice your beliefs, that is your right!
FROM: Sandy - 8/12/06.
Come, let us reason together
Personally, I dont see the words under God in the pledge a specific referral to any particular religion as I see it, its under whatever God one believes in The original intent of our forefathers is freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion. I see no dictate here that indicates one must adhere to any religious principle or view; however the principle of freedom for all is clear. Those who choose not to recite the pledge with those words in it or to refrain from saying under God have every right and freedom to choose not to utter them. However, do not deny the freedom to state that phrase to those who desire to do just that.
Abraham Lincoln, in his wisdom said this: Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves, and under a just God, cannot long retain it.
Dont force others to deny their faith because it doesnt match up with yours!
My name is "Liberty" for one and all
Thank you for sharing your views with us. Yes, that is a good place to start. Let us reason together.
One of the fundamental assumptions of the founders and our government is equality. That is, in the eyes of our Constitution all are treated equal. Thus, when it comes to beliefs, our government can not support one belief over another, otherwise we are not equal. In 1954 when Congress passed the bill inserting "...under God..." into the Pledge, and President Eisenhower signed it into law, it was a violation of the First Amendment. It also said in effect that the government officially supports "a belief in the existence of a supernatural being whom we are all under". Thus, all of us (probably about 20+ million) who do not accept or find any evidence for the existence of a supernatural being, are now second class citizens. We are not equal.
I think it is impossible to have freedom of religion without having freedom FROM religion (when religion is defined as belief in a supernatural being). If you take religion to mean "belief of what constitutes ultimate reality" then, for example, my "religion" or belief is that "all that exists, exists within the natural world". The word God has a specific meaning. It is in no way what I and 20 million other American "believe". What was the purpose of adding it to the Pledge?????
The "dictate", as you call it, is then clear. Our government supports the existence of a supernatural being. A religious "belief". No American should accept their government supporting any religious belief. How would you feel if we changed the Pledge to say "...one nation under no Gods.." or "...under Krishna..." ? Keeping your faith does not require having the government support or endorse it!
You, I, and all Americans, are personally or in voluntary gatherings, free to pray when and where we want, believe or not in whatever god(s) we want, BUT our government, is not free to pass laws which endorse one system of belief over others. Which is exactly what they did with the Pledge, and also our motto (which they slowly changing from E Pluribus Unum to In God We Trust), and other government symbols.
Is that reasonable??? Are you saying that our government should endorse one religion over another? Isn't that exactly what the founders of this country tried to make sure would NOT happen?
You are asking my government to deny me freedom, freedom of equality, by making you and those who believe in the existence of supernatural beings, "preferred" citizens.
Remember what Lincoln said.
FROM: Mr Austin - 7/20/05
I am sorry to say, but I did not get a chance to serve in the military, even though I was in the ROTC for 2 years. In 1966 the draft lottery came within 2 numbers of mine. A year later my Father died and I became a sole surviving son. My father served in WWII in the navy and he was proud to serve his country, and proud to say the Pledge without "under God" in it.
It also hurts me very deeply that there are Americans who think of themselves as patriotic but who seem to want our government to promote their religious beliefs to other Americans. I, like you, feel a great sense of loyalty, love, and patriotism for my country. I feel proud to say the Pledge, but without "under God" in it.
There are probably more than 20 million Americans who have naturalistic or humanistic beliefs. We believe that all that exists, exists within the natural world. We see no evidence that there exists a supernatural being who needs to be worshiped. These are in effect my "religious beliefs".
We all have the freedoms given by our Constitution, to believe whatever we want, pray or not wherever and whenever we want, BUT our government and its functionaries represent all Americans, and thus must never promote any one religious belief over any other. In a true democracy there can be no freedom of religion without freedom from government promoted religion. Congress violated the Constitution when it added "under God" to the Pledge. It excluded my Father and millions of Americans by saying that our government preferred one religion over another. This is wrong and un-American.
One could say that its arrogant and condescending of you to suggest that I should "...live in country that has these type of views as you do and practice your beliefs there.... ". I thought I was living in a country that had freedom of religion. I thought I lived in a country where people respected other peoples beliefs. I thought I lived in a country where the government did not tell its people what to believe. I sounds to me that it is you who wants to live in a country like Iran or Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia, etc., where a theocratic government tells its people what to believe. I respect and would fight for your right to believe what you want. It does not make you a better person because I believe in one less god than you do.
I am proud to be an American , I only wish that you, and others who call themselves patriotic, would support our great nation on the foundation it was created upon, the Constitution. I love my country and I will fight if necessary to make sure that all Americans are free to hold any "religious beliefs" without government coercion.
In due respect, I think you need to seriously consider your final words of your email. You and other supernaturalists in this country DID change what was an American tradition. The Pledge did NOT have "under God in it". Our money did not have "In God We Trust" on it, and our mottto, as wrtten by our founding Fathers, was "E Pluribus Unum". Congress certainly violated the First Amendment when it added those words. In effect, it "established" a specific religion. If you are truly a "patriot" and believe in the American Constitution, then you cannot ignore the First Amendment and tell me that you want to have our government force your religious beliefs on me. That is NOT what America stands for.
FROM: Sweetblossom - 4/28/05
I agree with you opinion about the Pledge of Allegiance. Before 1954, as you said, it was neutral. Even though I am a religious person, I don't force my religion on others. I have a friend who doesn't believe in God and I know it hurts her to say "under god". She is a very patriotic person who loves her country, but doesn't like people forcing religion on her. I will try my best to help out on the struggle to restore the pledge so that America can be reunited again and have my friend proud to say the pledge.
We have found that many religious Americans support us because they also feel that no one's religion should be pushed on anyone using governmental authority. We believe in freedom of religion for all. Government should be a neutral place where we can all come together as equals. Our government must never be able to promote or tell us what to believe. That's true freedom of religion.
FROM: E. Young - 1/12/05
This nation was founded by men who believed in God! You can not deny that! This is also a nation where the majority rules! The majority has clearly declared that proclaiming a belief in God is an inalienable right. There are plenty of countries with people who are as disillusioned as you are and believe that immorality and degradation should be allowed if that is a person's choice! Please, please, please - Go There! Denmark would be glad to have you. Just don't expect to be able to get a job! I hear sexually transmitted diseases are all the rage. I just hope you want to convert to Islam.
I am sorry to say, but you have a very wrong picture of who we are and why we are insisting that religious beliefs can not be promoted by our government or its officials. We are not disillusioned, and we do NOT believe that immorality and degradation should be allowed. (Most of us work as scientists, educators, doctors, and have better morals than many of those who call themselves Christians.) Who ever told you that, wants you to think that if you are not a true believer in their concept of God, you are evil. They are wrong.
Yes, this nation was founded by men who believed in God (even though Jefferson, Madison, and several of their colleagues were not Christians), but they also believed in a secular government. That's why our Constitution makes no reference to God. Religion is only mentioned in the First Amendment where it succinctly states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". Jefferson clearly stated the meaning of this clause when he wrote that it meant there was a "wall of separation between church and state". In other words, the people are free to practice any system of beliefs they want, BUT the government and its officials can not promote any religious system of belief. This is what "freedom of religion" means. The founders of this country knew that, when a government picks a religion to promote, some portion of its people become second class citizens.
Yes, this is a nation where the majority rules, BUT the majority does not have the power to take away the rights given by the First Amendment. IN A TRUE DEMOCRACY A MAJORITY CAN NOT IMPOSE THEIR RELIGION ON A MINORITY. If that happens this will not be the USA anymore. Could a majority of Americans vote to make Catholicism the state religion, would you say that's OK? I don't know where you got the idea that "the majority has clearly declared that proclaiming a belief in God is an inalienable right". When was this vote taken???? The Constitution already grants every one the right to hold what ever belief they want. It is also an inalienable right to believe (as 20 million Americans do) that "all that exists, exists within the natural world". That there are no supernatural beings or a supernatural domain.
You have NO right to impose your religious beliefs on me and my children. I do no try to impose mine on you. When the Pledge did not have the words "under God" in it, it was a pledge we could both say, it was NEUTRAL. When Congress illegally added "under God" to it, they put your religion over mine. That is exactly what "freedom of religion" is NOT.
Why should my government, our government, promote your religion??? You can pray anytime you want wherever you want. You can believe (or not) in whatever god what ever you want. I'll fight for your right to do that. BUT, when one is a government official performing a government function, he/she represents all of us and can not promote any religious viewpoint.
You suggested that I move to Denmark. I'm an American, and my family has been here for generations, and we are dedicated to this country and to "freedom of religion". If you don't, I could suggest that you may want to move to Afghanistan or Iran, where government, religion, and God are all decided for you. You might feel more at home.
I can reiterate is that: There can be no freedom of religion without
freedom from government promoted religion. If you and too many Americans
do not believe that, then it is a sad state indeed, for we have forgotten
the lessons of our forefathers and are headed for the "tyranny of the
majority" that Jefferson warned us about.
FROM: L. Willis - 1/7/05
I just watched part of an interview on TV with Mr. Newdow. Please forgive me if I have his name wrong as I only caught the end of the interview.
I did hear him say that our founding fathers wanted to establish religious freedom for all people in our country. Where is my freedom to say "under God" if I choose or Mr. Bush's freedom to invoke God's blessing on his presidency? If there is to be religious freedom for all, people who believe as you do must stop trying to stamp out my right to pray as and where I choose. You don't have to subscribe to my beliefs, say "under God" if you don't want to - all things you've probably heard before. If you were being sworn in as president of our country, would you want me to protest and bring suit to deny your right to delete prayer from the event? If a Muslim were elected, should I protest his right to pray to Allah during the ceremony? No, I should just stand quietly while he/she expressed his faith. What harm would it do to me? Or you? I don't understand your position and obviously believe you are taking away everyone's right to religious freedom.
It would appear that you and I can agree on one point. That in this country we have, via the First Amendment, the right to believe what we want and pray when and where we want. You have always had and have the right to say "under God". The problem is that congress did not have the right to add "under God"to the pledge. Putting those words into the pledge was in violation of the First Amendment. It was promoting (establishing) a religious system of belief. As Americans we all have the right to say "under God", BUT the government and government officials, while they are acting in their capacity and representing all of us, do not have that right. That is what the first amendment is all about. It is a subtle difference, but it's what our ancestors fought for. That is why we have a secular Constitution.
Mr. Bush is President of ALL Americans, thus in his private life he can believe in whatever god he wants and pray all he wants, but when he represents all of us in an official capacity, he can not promote his religious beliefs. In fact, the constitution proscribes the exact oath of office that the President will take. Read it. It does not end with "so help me God". (Article 2, Section 1)
We are NOT taking away your right to religious freedom, we are making sure that government can never tell anyone how or what to believe. As we say, there can not be freedom of religion without freedom from government promoted religion. By putting "under God" into the pledge OUR government is promoting your monotheistic religion over mine. How is that not wrong? Thank you for taking the time to ask us about this.
PS: From a Christian perspective, I would also ask you to look at Matt. 6:5-6 and Matt. 22:21
FROM: S. Heist, California - 6/24/04
From an essay by columnist Annalee Newitz, writing on AlterNet. Why not restore the real original version of the pledge, and support something that's been under attack lately as well - equality.
Bellamy, a socialist and magazine editor, wrote the pledge in 1892 as
part of a nationwide, school celebration of Columbus Day. His original
pledge - which made no mention of God - included the phrase
The history of
the pledge is one of creeping conservatism. The first edit to it preserved
racism and sexism, while the second major edit in 1954 abolished the
distinction between church and state. Now the Supreme
FROM: Hal, a supporter - 3/29/04
The other day I heard Dr Newdow's interview on NPR. One of the most chilling counter-arguments I heard as to why to keep "under God" in the Pledge was that such a phrase is intended to remind people that our rights are derived from God and without an entity such as God to guarantee our rights, our entire system of government would be threatened with collapse and potential tyranny at the hands of the powerful (since, as the logic of this argument suggests, we have no rights without God, and therefore have no basis to challenge government supremacy)
I have given this some thought, and have developed my own argument as to why we have rights without there being a need for God.
1) Nature in itself does not have a master (there is no entity that dictates how Nature is to behave...Nature behaves as it does by the forces and relationships intrinsic to itself)
2) Humans, as creatures and creations of nature, have no master (Humans in their natural state are beholden to no power greater than themselves)
3) Humans, both individually and collectively, recognize that order and civility bring individual and collective benefits that outweigh the consequences.
4) To the end of creating and maintaining order and civility, Humans choose to empower governments (or similar systems) in order to reap the those benefits.
5) Humans, however, recognize that the collective power of government greatly outweighs the power of individuals.
6) To prevent collective power from overrunning individual power, certain bounds are placed on government, limiting collective power. These bounds are chosen to respect the inherent fact that humans, by their nature have no master and that governments derive their power from individuals. Governments must recognize that their existence is determined by humans, and without humans, government can not exist or function. (so, humans are ultimately more powerful than government)
7) We call the bounds we place on government "rights", in recognition of our natural state of being without master.
This argument may need further development, but I think the basis of it is sound.
I would appreciate any thoughts or comments.
Hal... Well said. It's a well though out argument, grounded on a good philosophical basis.
There are also several other "pragmatic" arguments which can also be made. The most powerful one against this "counter argument" is one based solidly on the U.S. Constitution - "the law of the land". Many who make this counter argument have obviously not read it. In the first line it states - "We the People of the United States, ....... do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America". One has to ignore history, philosophy, and politics, to not recognize that our government derives its power from the people. Nowhere in the U.S.Constitution is the word God mentioned. Some at this point will reference the Declaration of Independence with the phrases "...to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them..." and "...endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights...". However, the Declaration is a philosophical document, not the basis of our government. There is also the salient fact that Jefferson, the author of the Declaration, was a Deist. Note, that he never comes right out and says "God". Instead he uses deistic terms such as "Nature's God" and "Creator". One today could interpret this as "Nature" being the creator. Note that he also basis them on the "laws of Nature"! Some good questions to think about - why didn't he just say God? What did he mean by Nature's God?
A second argument is the clearly visible reality that there are many nations "under God" whose people are by most definitions oppressed. Afghanistan and Iran come easily to mind, two nations certainly "under God". Thus, being "under God does not guarantee any rights.
Finally, I would suggest a book such as "Darwinian Natural Right" by Larry Arnhart. It shows how over the past two thousand years, "natural rights" have been recognized starting with Greek philosophers such as Aristotle, theologians such as St. Augustin, and includes modern thinkers such as Hume, Locke, and Paine.
B Markeson, Orlando Direct Action - 3/28/04
I don't believe in the Pledge with or without the "under God" clause. The Pledge to me seems designed mainly to instill blind patriotism and obedience to the government rather than the ideals for which America is supposed to stand. Rote recitation to me also seems a poor way to install meaningful values which should be based on thought.
However, I support your efforts to remove the "under God" clause from the Pledge since this would further the cause of freedom of conscience and freedom from having religion imposed upon us by the State. These days with the growing influence of conservative religious groups, it's important that we work to maintain and widen the wall of separation between church and State in order to protect our First Amendment rights.
FROM: S. Voge, California - 3/23/04
FROM: B. Licciardi - 3/22/04
RexCurry.net - 3/1/04
As an attorney, I am fascinated by the Pledge of Allegiance case presently before the U.S. Supreme Court (oral arguments are scheduled for March 24). As a pro bono service to help the media and the public prepare for the eventual decision of the highest Court, I have collected astounding historic photos and information about the pledge. http://members.ij.net/rex/pledge1.html
In the process of researching the Newdow case, I have built the only site on the internet that collects and displays historic photos of the original Pledge of Allegiance. http://members.ij.net/rex/pledge2.html
The pledge's history is suppressed because it is so un-libertarian. The original Pledge of Allegiance was written by a self-proclaimed socialist in U.S. "Nationalist" clubs and the original salute to the flag resembled and predated the salute of the National Socialist German Workers' Party. As strange as it may seem, the ideas that inspired the pledge's author also resulted in mass atrocities worldwide. http://members.ij.net/rex/pledgebackward.html
Please inform the public about the history of the salute and pledge, to prepare them for the coming decision from the U.S. Supreme Court.
FROM: C. W. Helstrom - 1/22/04
Discussion about the constitutionality of the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag seems largely to have overlooked the role of public-school teachers, who in many states are required by law to lead their classes in reciting the Pledge. Small children regard teachers as figures of authority and do not question what they say. When children hear their teacher daily intone the phrase "under God", they are led to believe that "God" exists. The existence of "God" is a tenet of theistic religion, and small children are thereby indoctrinated in a religious belief. As the teacher is an employee of the State, the State is a party to an establishment of religion in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution.
Parents who believe in the existence of a particular god are of course permitted to impart their belief to their children or to send them to a religious institution that will so instruct them. For the State through its public-school system to participate in such teaching is clearly prohibited by the Constitution.
FROM: M. Rhea - 3/5/03
I had the great pleasure of hearing Dr. Michael Newdow speak Saturday, February 15, in Santa Barbara. I was delighted when he won his case and had been writing essays and letters to editors, etc., before the case even came to light. (I've not said the pledge in about 31 years, having stopped when I was 11 due partly to the fact that it lies in myriad ways.) While I agree that the phrase, "under God", is unconstitutional and would LOVE to see that go away, I cannot help but wonder why we have young children pledging their allegiance to a flag (or a country) at all. I am reminded of the Billy Gobitis (Gobitas) case which was presented to the Supreme Court long before "under God" was interjected in 1954.
I think it could be very educational, as well as entertaining, to see a documentary of interviews with young children asking them the meaning of the pledge and their understanding of the various words in the pledge. Were I a filmmaker I would have begun work on that already. It would also be amusing to interview adults, especially teachers, about the history of the pledge, although I suspect that many people know much more about it now than they did a year ago.
Why should we worship this pledge, with or without "god" just because a magazine opted to create and promote it in 1892? Should we plan on enshrining whatever the Disney magazine comes up with just because it is popular? What are these empty words we have our children repeat daily or weekly or monthly in school? Meaningless drivel meant to create an "us and them" mentality, a blind patriotism, and to capitalize on our unfortunate herding instinct. Pardon my soapbox. I'm sure you are aware that once upon a time the hand salute to the pledge was changed due to its being too similar to the Nazi salute. Well, I find the fact that we indoctrinate young children into this "patriotism" too similar still. Patriotism, the healthy form of it, cannot be created by memorizing words and repeating them en masse. Only the unhealthy form of "patriotism", otherwise known as nationalism, is produced then.
I'm not really asking you to do anything about this. I'm just wondering if there is anyone out there thinking along similar lines.
Thanks for listening and good luck to you!
FROM: A. Sawhney - 1/26/03
I am adding one more e-mail to the many that have been sent in support of your cause. I would contact my local representative in congress, were I a citizen of the U.S., or even still a resident there.
As a Canadian child living in the States, I was made to memorize the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag, and the only part of this irony that ever bothered me was one religious phrase. I only wish that we in Canada could collectively recognize the ridiculously antiquated notion of blatant church/state connections. If the western majority fails to recognize the danger in such a practice, and it repeats the mistakes which led to the inquisition, then freedom is really only an illusion in what we call the “free world”.
All the best of
luck to you.
FROM: FLUBOSKI(at)aol.com - 12/21/02
What offends me is people like yourself who are anti-American and make a complete ass out of yourself! In God We Trust" is our national motto. This is not some Christian, right wing, political slogan. We adopted this motto because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools and in the Pledge of Allegiance. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture! Kindly leave the USA now! I proudly Pledge Allegiance one nation under God!
We should offend people like you who have NO respect for the U.S. Constitution or the Bill of Rights.
In God We Trust is NOT our original motto. Jefferson, Franklin, and Adams, gave us our first and real motto - E Pluribus Unum. "In God We Trust" was unconstitutionally enacted by congress in 1956.
of this nation were pretty far removed from being Christians.
Most of them where Deists. See:
The government and all governmental functionaries must be neutral when it comes to religion. The Constitution prohibits government from promoting any specific belief system. Fourteen percent of Americans are non-religious. That's 30 million who do not accept your belief in the existence of a supernatural being. You have the right to believe whatever you want BUT you have NO right to have it promoted by our government. You have NO right to force your religious beliefs on the rest of us. Our national symbols CAN NOT promote ANY system of belief.
The insertion of "under God" in the Pledge by Congress was clearly unconstitutional.
If living in a secular nation offends you, I suggest it is YOU and other fundamentalist religious fanatics who should move to Afghanistan or Iran where you can live in a theocracy "under God". I proudly Pledge Allegiance to one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all... as our founders intended and our secular constitution guarantees.
The Pledge of Allegiance officially establishes a monotheistic religious doctrine. As an atheist I complained to my local school board about my child being indoctrinated daily in this religious doctrine by having to say "under god" in the Pledge each morning. They arranged with my child's elementary school to allow her to arrive 10 minutes after school starts with no recording of a tardy in order to miss the pledge. We have been doing this for a few months and it's been working out well. Some have questioned my patriotism but I remind them that I survived a year in combat in Vietnam as a US Army Infantry Platoon Leader defending our US Constitution ... a document that prohibits my government from imposing any religious doctrine on me or my family. By stepping forward and challenging the Pledge in it's current unconstitutional form I am still defending that Constitution.
In 1923 and 1924
the National Flag Conference, under the 'leadership of the
Why can't we just
go back to how this man wrote the pledge, using his own
FROM: John Backer, PA, USA
thought you would enjoy this, clipped from the Pittsburgh Post....
FROM: Rob <chevwrench(at)attbi.com
The point is yours is a minority way of thinking verses "our" majority way of thinking. Nobody said you have to recite the pledge and use these words... Simple fact is we live in a country where "majority" rules,
Yes they did... that's the problem. I want my children to be able to recite the Pledge the way it was originally written. The way my father recited it during WWII. Saying it with "...one nation, indivisible..." is neutral. Saying it with "....one nation, under God, indivisible..." promotes YOUR religion. It is obnoxious of anyone to think that an American should keep silent during the Pledge. The Pledge is to our country, it should not make any religious statements.
Yes, we live in a country where the majority rules (except for electing the President!!)... BUT you seem to be missing the point. The majority rules in political issues. The Constitution was specifically worded so as to exclude religion from majority rule via the government. Congress did not have the right to insert a religious doctrine into the pledge or on our money. They have clearly violated the constitution. But who in 1954 would dare oppose it???? It was wrong then and it still is.
Religion holds a special place in America, that is why the founding fathers foresaw to separate it from government control. The laws of this country are based on the Constitution. Jefferson was clear on the intent... a wall between church and state.
The majority rules, but NOT in violation of our basic rights.
our "elected" officials are supposedly voted in by a "majority" vote and are entrusted to represent our desires and choices, those of the" majority", not yours. Nobody is forcing any religion on you, far from it!
but NOT on religious issues. Again, think about what you are saying
still your choice whether or not you accept God. I believe
are trying to promote your concept of God via the government. When a
public ceremony is led by a government functionary in that role, it
is wrong and un-American... that is exactly what the founders were trying
the right to choose what is right for you, but in your choice, You DO NOT have the right to deprive me or the rest of the "majority" the same right!
You and I have the right to practice our religion as we see fit.... BUT you do NOT have the right to have your religion promoted by any governmental authority. This is the essence of our constitutionally derived democracy. Congress did not have the authority or Constitutional right to "establish" a religious concept by voting to add the words "under God" to the Pledge.
In the long run You will lose, there is too many that feel the way I do about this. Do yourself and the rest of us a favor and find another way to leave your mark for posterity...............
(First let me just say that your wrong about this... The numbers of the non-religious is one of the fastest growing categories in the country. By the most conservative polls there about 14% of Americans who do not believe in the traditional definition of "god", or are Agnostics, or Atheists. )
BUT... that is not the point anyway.
We are defending the Constitutionally given right to not have the government establish a religion. We are trying to defend the Constitution while you and your friends are trying to rip "the church-state wall" apart stone by stone.
There were quite a few who felt the black Americans should be slaves and a large number who thought women should not vote. It sounds to me that you would have been right up front telling everyone it was your "god given right to own slaves" and that "women where not capable of thinking for themselves"
viewpoint, you are saying the majority has the right to violate our
constitutionally given rights.
"freedom of religion"...... in private and in public, BUT NOT
through the power of the state.
How retarded... keep under god in. your just some moron who's still living in the past when god wasn't included in the pledge. I say forget those who don't wanna say the pledge. Americas are people in my opinion who've been in America all their life and so have there parents, not those damn imigrants. I say screw you an your retarded pre-1954 belief. If all the americans were to have a fair vote in this, under god would stay by a long shot. Majority rules!
I take exception to your arrogant and self righteous attitude. My ancestors have been in this country for over two hundred years. In fact, there are probably over 20 million AMERICANS who don't accept the illegal addition of "under God" to the pledge, and fit your definition of "true American".
THIS IS OF COURSE IRRELEVANT ANYWAY, BECAUSE YOU HAVE BEEN MISINFORMED TO BEGIN WITH......
FIRST, it was the "Knights of Columbus" who lobbied Congress and who forced the "under God" into our pledge. Their ranks were represented by a large number of immigrants, Italians, Irish, Hispanics...!!!
SECOND, a large number of immigrants today are Hispanic and Catholics who would support you !!!!!
THIRD, you obviously know very little about our Constitution. In this country we vote on political and social issues. We don't vote on religious issues. This is why this country was established - to escape the majority imposing their religious view on those who don't agree with them. The American Constitution is clear on the separation of "church & state". Read it. It is a purely sectarian document. It clearly states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" ... THUS congress violated the Constitution when it voted to add "under God" to the pledge.
We have the right to pray at home, at church , anywhere you want, BUT no one, especially in a role as a government functionary, has the right to promote or force their religious beliefs on others.
FROM: L. Jencks, CA 7/14/02
Below is a letter to an atheist friend composed over
the last two days. It is my most comprehensive statement of the
Restoration strategy to date. I hope you find it useful, and let
me know if I can be of any help. John Hodges, one of the brightest atheists
we have, suggested an amicus brief from people of faith, Pagans, panthiests,
Buddhists, etc. His email is: <jbhodges@@usit.net>. I
have a published record as an advocate of pantheism going back to 1985,
if that would be of any use to you. If you bring in other theologies
in addition to atheism to support your case, I believe you will win.
LET'S GET THE JOB DONE (Letter To Edgar)
Edgar, I think it is SOP for atheists to confront believers with their (the believers') irrationality. When have atheists NOT spoken out in this way? Answer: they always have, and continue to do so. Nothing wrong with that. The atheist project by my analysis is aimed at the conversion of the population (this is called "advancing atheism") over a long period of time to rational thought, and best of luck. One can only hope, and I am rooting for you. My goal is more immediate: call it practical politics. My goal is to achieve immediate political equality for atheists -- an equality they do not now enjoy -- through the usual and standard political methodology, which is an appeal to the self-interest of the existing majority.
Edgar, I am not up for lecturing you or writing politics 101 here, but the way it works in politics is through an appeal to the self-interest of other people. One advances one's own cause by convincing others that it is in their own best interest to lend support to that cause. Now, sad to say, the self-interest of the majority is not inclined toward conversion to atheism, and I regret that I must be the one to say so. Rather, the self-interest of the majority is inclined toward "religious freedom." Most Americans do not want to be converted to atheism, but everyone wants freedom for their own religion: you can take this to the bank.
How can I make this more plain? The way for atheists to achieve equality in the U.S. is through the restoration of secular government, which means the icons of government, including the Pledge, the Motto and the Currency, must be restored to their prior secular status. This means the immediate goal is to convince the American people that it is IN THEIR OWN RELIGIOUS INTEREST to make the conversion...and as quickly as possible.
We don't need to worry about the flag: it is secular and will remain so. However, we should have some real concern about the National Anthem: if seculars don't get their act together soon, we are likely to loose the Star Spangled Banner and see it replaced by God Bless America -- this threat is real. There may be other important icons of government, secular or not, which I have failed to mention: but the Pledge, the Motto, the Currency, the National Anthem and the Flag are those I can think of at the moment. ALL OF THEM MUST BE SECULAR, as they once were, for secular government to become a reality. Secular government is the necessary pre-condition for equality for atheists. (Atheists may focus on individual legal rights all they wish, but without secular icons the government cannot be considered secular, and no true equality for atheists can exist in the mind of the people so long as government icons are religious. My work deals with the mind of the people: the mind of the people is the ultimate determinant of what holds sway in this country: legal niceties take a back seat to the mind of the people.)
I am not asking atheists to discontinue their advancement efforts, thereby bringing light to a benighted world. I support these efforts. What I am telling you is that this broad scale conversion is a centuries-long process and I don't have the time. I am out to get the job done -- immediate equality for atheists in the mind of the people -- through practical politics, hopefully within the next two or three generations. What this means is very specific: appealing to the self-interest of the theist majority to convince them that secular government is to their own benefit. The population must be convinced that secular government is the best guarantor of their own religious rights, and more specifically that icons of government which are secular protect these rights more securely than icons which are religious. (I did not invent this idea. It was the Founders who came up with it!)
To be more detailed, there is already complete acceptance among Americans that no PARTICULAR religion should have control of any icon of government. We know this, Edgar, because that is exactly the theist argument today: that the government icons which are religious (Pledge, Motto, Currency) are "not really religious" because they do not, in this view, promote a particular faith like Catholicism, Judaism, etc. This shows us that Americans ALREADY ACCEPT that the icons of government should not represent what to the public mind is a particular faith: our problem at the moment is that Americans believe that the existing icons are "generic," not specific, and therefore acceptable. This is the status of the situation today.
Ergo, our task -- and I don't mean the task of general enlightenment but rather the more practical and immediate goal of absolute equality for atheists before the law -- our task at the moment is simple and clear: demonstrate that at least one current icon is, in fact, NOT GENERIC AT ALL, but rather represents a certain specific variety of religious belief. Edgar, this is the strategy I have advocated publicly since 1996, and it has now been taken up by Newdow. He understands it, which is exciting for me. It means we are making significant progress.
The only problem with Michael's attempt is that he is an atheist, and atheism is NOT widely regarded as a faith which can be contrasted to government theology in order to demonstrate their differences, because according to leading atheist spokespersons, atheism is not a faith at all. In other words, it is atheists who, over the prior century, voluntarily removed their own protection under the Establishment Clause (which deals with "religion") by their insistence that atheism is not a belief, faith, theology or religious idea whatsoever. I don't mean to be brutal about it, really, but these are the facts; this is what has happened.
For the past 50 years, rather than saying "We believe there is no God," atheists have said "We have no belief." It is this posture -- in my view a serious mistake -- that has led to the erosion of atheist rights and may well create further loss going forward. It is this posture which has removed the protection of the Establishment Clause for atheism in the mind of the American public.
To summarize so far: the way to achieve equality for atheists is to restore secular government. Secular government can only exist where the icons of government are secular: it cannot exist where the icons of government are religious. Currently the icons of government are religious, but Americans think it's OK because, in their view, these icons are "generically" religious and don't favor a particular faith. This is how the situation stands today. Edgar, I am starting to lecture you now and I don't want to, but these things are apparent and my good atheist friends are often so focused on their debunking mission that they refuse to think, discuss, or act upon the obvious. I essay this work for them, as well as for myself. A strategy to advance atheist equality in society is different than a strategy to advance atheism itself. This point is often overlooked by atheists, so I must stress it.
I relate all the above to reach a well-known principle, which is that when you want to change some structure, you aim for the point of weakness in the structure. I'm sure you understand this. WHEN YOU WANT TO COLLAPSE AN EXISTING STRUCTURE, IN THIS CASE THE AMERICAN THEOCRACY, YOU TARGET THE POINT OF WEAKNESS.
Edgar, the advancement of atheism is noble and honorable, but it is not aimed at the point of weakness, it is just a broadside. Working to advance atheism is a slow and inefficient way to bring down the structure of American theocracy. So where do we find the point of weakness in this theocracy? I believe you already know: it is the phrase "under God." I spent about five years on the Humanism e-mail list trying to convince people of this fact -- I am grateful that Michael Newdow has now acted upon it and brought wide attention to the issue. I have called "under God" the Achilles heel of the American theocracy. It is. Remove this weak point and the rest will collapse: the theocrats are right about that! They loose sleep over it.
I am typing a lot here Edgar, and my apologies. This is the most detailed treatise I have ever given on what is happening today, and if my atheist friends will at least think a little about it, perhaps we can hasten the process of collapse and end the theocracy within our lifetime. If atheists will work on the problem like Newdow is doing -- and his strategy is exactly my own -- it can be accomplished. In two or three generations, if not now.
The only problem for Newdow, and why his present case may fail, is that he is attempting to use atheism as the point of reference (the contrast) to show that "under God" favors a specific theology. Regretfully, because atheists have convinced everyone that atheism is not a theology (I hold that it is, but this is beside the point), regretfully his particular attempt may not hold. It takes fire to fight fire in this battle: it takes a competing theology to highlight the specificity of the government's theology. In this regard Newdow's tool, his own atheism, may be too weak for the intended purpose. In this effort we are required to fight fire with fire. Water, to cool the flame, is not enough. We must set a backfire to illuminate the main inferno and contain it. We must ring the conflagration with our own line of flame. In this effort, atheism is water. Hinduism, Buddhism, pantheism...these are fire.
Am I making any progress with you, Edgar? I am trying to be plain and sincere, and avoid offense. I am giving the facts of the matter relating to the job at hand. Recall our goal once again: to demonstrate that the religious icons of American government represent a particular and specific, rather than generic and all-encompassing, theology. Since leading atheists have spent decades convincing the world that atheism is NOT a theology, it regretfully does not provide a good contrast to the government version of faith. People have come to believe, due to the efforts of atheists themselves, that comparing atheism to faith is like comparing apples to oranges. We need an orange to do the job. We must display our California Navel to contrast it with the government's Florida Delight.
Therefore, let us bring a faith before the American people which specifically, clearly, and without ambiguity can be shown to NOT BELIEVE that its adherents are "under God." Say, perhaps Buddhism, which is a faith, a religion, sans God. Or Hinduism, which is a faith with MANY Gods. Or, perhaps pantheism (my own faith), which says we are WITHIN rather than under, God. These are our best tools for aiming at the Achilles heel of the theocracy. (I am sure there are others of which I am not familiar.)
So what I want to say to my atheist friends is to please continue your critique of religion, bring light into the world, I am not one to stop this, I welcome it. But to bring down the theocracy we need a specific tool, which, of necessity, must be a recognized religion or theology which is DIFFERENT AND DISTINCT from that propounded by the religious icons put forth by our government. "Under" is the point of weakness because it embodies a specific theology, a particular relationship with God. In my own effort I use pantheism as the tool of contrast, not only because it is my faith, but because it specifically posits an entirely distinct theology, a different relation to God, than that espoused by the Pledge. This is a contrast which will, at some point, demonstrate to the American people in an adequate way that, in fact, their religious government icons favor a certain type and variety of religion: when this occurs, everything crumbles. The hard evidence that there are faiths entirely different from the "under God" religion brings the entire edifice down.
FROM: I.Berecz FL, USA, 7/12/02
It's about time America woke up. Everyone who defends our current pledge keeps quoting our founding fathers, but, what they are also doing is refusing to recognize ALL the quotes! Thomas Jefferson was one of our founders who was against any form of religion in our government. Has anyone read the "Baptist Letters"? Jefferson was being thanked for the work he did in keeping the wall of separation up, by a religious body of people, no less! If our country was in fact founded on Christianity, why doesn't our Constitution or Bill of Rights mention Jesus? Our founding fathers were Christian and deist, no doubt...they had the perfect opportunity to create a "Christian nation", so then, again I ask, why isn't Jesus mentioned in any of our laws or rights? Answer: because they understood that everyone, including themselves, had a right to believe/worship what they want and that history has proven, even back then, that government and religion are two SEPARATE issues.If the gov't favors one religion over another, how can we say that we are a country that holds "freedom of religion" a important rite?
FROM: Lance Jencks, 7/12/02
I am published this morning on the subject of the Pledge in our local Daily Pilot, under the header "U.S. Must Restore Initial Pledge."
This is probably my most succinct statement to date on the issue, and reflects my pantheist leanings. It also reflects my belief that the road to change must come through the theist majority, which is why I speak to the audience in their own theological terms.
assumption among theists is that only atheists want God out of the Pledge.
With this letter I demonstrate the falsehood of such an assumption by
criticizing the Pledge on religious grounds.
: = ) Lance
P.S. My own title for this essay is "The Government Is Wrong About God." The editors used their discretion to change the title, but everything else is word-for-word.
FROM: G.L.Bennett, 7/2/02
Aside from the Constitutional problem with the pledge as it is currently written there are religious problems.
First, YHWH/God made it very clear that there were to be no graven images/idols/totems (what-have-you) in his presence nor were such things to be worshipped. The flag clearly is a totem and an idol. Pledging to it is the same as worshipping it -- a clear violation of YHWH's instructions.
Instead of pledging to a flag we should be pledging to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights -- perhaps something like this: "I pledge allegiance to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, one Nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all".
Secondly, YHWH/God made it very clear that his name was not to be spoken under penalty of death. By requiring children to say "under God" we are exposing them to the possibility of being killed!
One final note: since the Knights of Columbus were the ones who got "under god" inserted into the pledge -- shouldn't all judges who are Catholic have to recuse themselves from this matter?
Side note: There will be lots of criticisms from those who think this is the wrong battle and/or the wrong time. In my view the voucher decision is much worse than whether or not "under god" stays in the pledge. However, bear in mind that in the dark days of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln successfully fought off an attempt to insert "god" into the U.S. Constitution -- so if Lincoln could take the time from the war effort to battle what seemed a minor matter then Michael Newdow is certainly within his rights to take on the pledge. The more these religious totems get put into our public life the harder it will be to stop the total religious takeover of our government. (Witness how people are using the motto "In god we trust" to defend keeping "under god" in the pledge -- but, as we all know, two wrongs don't make a right and I'm old enough to remember the pledge without "under god" and our motto as being "E Pluribus Unum" -- and with our large immigrant population we would be better off with the original motto.)
FROM: L. Jencks, CA 7/3/02
As a humanist I have always held that one person can make a difference and that the pen is mightier than the sword. The reason this works is not because of the powers of one person, but because when one of us acts for a legitimate cause, and does it in a creative way, the action spreads to other people who multiply the effect. This has now happened with the Pledge Restoration idea.
Allow me to suggest two things. First, if the issue reaches the Supreme Court, I am of the opinion that the swing vote will be Sandra Day O'Connor. I want to encourage everyone to write to her explaining why "under God" establishes one particular religious theology while ignoring all others.
Second, the time for silence is over. My current project is to encourage every caring person to no longer maintain silence during the Pledge, but to forcefully proclaim their own theology at the appropriate moment. "WITHOUT GOD," "PART OF GOD," "UNDER HAMBURGER" ...whatever works for the individual. We cannot allow the majority to enforce our silence any longer. Each of us has the individual right to free expression of our own religious beliefs, whatever they may be: it is time for freedom-loving Americans to swallow their fears and express these beliefs individually and in public. This is the next stage of the public campaign, IMHO.
FROM: M. Gadush, 7/2/02
On behalf of the Atheist Community of Austin, Texas, I want to commend you for your outstanding efforts. We all admire your courage and determination and wish you much success in the future. You are an inspiration to all people who truly support State-Church separation. Even if the ruling is reversed, you have been responsible for educating the entire United States on the history of the pledge and you have made people think about what they so frequently take for granted. From all of us, THANK YOU!!!!!
FROM: S. Montgomery, GA, 6/29/02
Thank you for your site and your efforts. I am a devout Christian and I support your efforts to remove the 1950s addition from the pledge.
I believe true Christians follow the example of Jesus; we don't seek to force Him on others, especially through government coercion. We aren't ashamed to be Christians, and we don't impose the standards of Christianity on non-Christians. We have faith that God will take care of us as we seek to follow the will of God. (Note that it's God Who's the Source of our faith, not Washington).
I also support removing "In God We Trust" from all government items, including money.
I actually believe it's an insult to God for us to claim to be a nation under God, trusting in God, when we really aren't anything of the sort.
Thank you for your efforts.
FROM: D. Hoppen, NC - 6/27/02
Perhaps one should look back a few years in history. The "Greatest Generation" that literally saved this Dr.'s liberties grew up saying the pledge to the flag every day and read a passage from the bibles every day and said a prayer every day of their school lives. Sure stood them in good stead!
This country has always ignored its parts Constitution, we had slaves until we finally figured it was wrong, we denied women the vote until we figured it was wrong, we discriminated against African-Americans until we figured it was wrong....
It's wrong to violate the First Amendment and discriminate against 20 million + Americans who do NOT share your view of "God".
FROM: B. Wyant - 6/26/02
Great site. Keep up the good work.