Jewish World Review June 28, 2002 / 18 Tamuz, 5762
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | As you've all heard by now, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled the Pledge of Allegiance to be unconstitutional. The ruling of the San Francisco based federal appeals court makes saying the Pledge against the law in all schools in its jurisdiction (California, Oregon, Washington state, Arizona, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Alaska and Hawaii). Happy Fourth of July!
The case was brought by Michael A. Newdow, an atheist attorney and doctor, whose daughter attends a public school in California.
Speaking for the three-judge panel, Judge Alfred T. Goodwin wrote, "Newdow does not allege that his daughter's teacher or school district requires his daughter to participate in reciting the Pledge. Rather, he claims that his daughter is injured when she is compelled to 'watch and listen as her state-employed teacher in her state-run school leads her classmates in a ritual proclaiming that there is a G-d, and that our's [sic] is 'one nation under G-d.'"
"A profession that we are a nation 'under G-d' is identical, for Establishment Clause purposes, to a profession that we are a nation 'under Jesus,' a nation 'under Vishnu,' a nation 'under Zeus,' or a nation 'under no G-d,' because none of these professions can be neutral with respect to religion," Judge Goodwin continued.
The court admitted that the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that students cannot hold religious invocations at graduations and cannot be compelled to recite the Pledge. But being forced to listen to others make the Pledge creates an "unacceptable choice between participating and protesting," the appeals court said. "...the school district is...conveying a message of state endorsement of a religious belief when it requires public school teachers to recite, and lead the recitation of the current form of the Pledge."
In 1954, congress officially added the words "under G-d" to the Pledge, and it is those two words that seem to bother some people like Newdow and Judge Goodwin.
When the news broke last Wednesday, negative reaction to the ruling was immediate and just about unanimous. Members of Congress in both parties fell over each other to be the first ones in front of a camera to condemn the court action and (in an eerie flashback to last September) even gathered en masse on the steps of the Capitol to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and sing "G-d Bless America."
Radio talk show hosts were livid. Television talking-lawyer heads and other pundits filled the airwaves. "Stupid," "insensitive," "idiotic," "illogical," and "wrong-headed" were but a few of the terms used to describe the ruling. Most agreed that the court decision will, in all likelihood, be overturned. That's probably a safe bet, especially at this time of patriotism and war.
It's pretty hard to get a popular consensus against G-d and the Pledge of Allegiance after 3,000 Americans were wiped out less then ten short months ago and we still have troops fighting and dying in an attempt to stop the bastards that did it from doing it again.
But here's the thing. The ruling is wrong because it is predicated on the mistaken belief that the United States of America and G-d have nothing to do with each other. Nothing could be further from the truth. The role of religion, specifically Judaism and Christianity, in the founding of our country and throughout its history is substantial and profound.
In his book, "On Two Wings," author Michael Novak notes that, "The leaders of the American Revolution were not, like the leaders of the French revolution, secularists. They did not set out to erase religion," He points out that the very first act of the Continental Congress was to pray to Divine Providence in the face of British bombardment of Boston.
Written documents, letters, and speeches from our Founding Fathers prove beyond any doubt that in establishing a new model of self-government, they believed that they were not only acting according to reason and common sense, but also obeying a religious duty. In fact, Benjamin Franklin proposed as their motto: "Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to G-d." A few quotes from the many in the book:
"The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of Divinity itself, and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power." --- Alexander Hamilton
"The belief in a G-d All Powerful, wise, and good, is so essential to the moral order of the World and to the happiness of man, that arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources nor adapted with too much solicitude to the different characters and capacities impressed with it." --- James Madison
"Our Constitution is made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." --- John Adams
"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports." --- George Washington
As a I mentioned, I have no doubt that this dumb court ruling will be overturned or just plain thrown out. Until that happens, however, I propose we all continue to say the Pledge of Allegiance at every opportunity, any where we see an American flag displayed. And especially in our public school rooms -- as long as there are still American flags in those rooms.
I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under G-d, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.