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Supreme Court Will Hear Pledge of Allegiance Case 1476

Posted by michael
from the one-nation-under-allah dept.
Decaffeinated Jedi writes "As reported in this CNN.com article, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case next year (most likely in June) involving whether public schools can lead students in a 'voluntary' recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. At issue in this case is whether the inclusion of the phrase 'under God' in the pledge constitutes an establishment of religion on the part of the state and an infringement on students' religious liberty when it is recited in the public school setting. This case comes to the Supreme Court as an appeal of the June 2002 ruling made by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals--a decision that led to one of the most active stories in Slashdot history." The CNN article's emphasis on voluntariness -- "whether schoolchildren can be allowed to recite the Pledge voluntarily" -- is grossly misleading, almost propagandistic. Most states have laws requiring the pledge to be recited every day as a class activity, and these are the laws in question. In theory students shouldn't be punished for failing to recite along with the rest of the class (due to a previous Supreme Court decision). No state has a law prohibiting anyone from reciting the pledge voluntarily, whenever they want to.
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Supreme Court Will Hear Pledge of Allegiance Case

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @06:31PM (#7213740)
    Aside from people who believe a supreme being does not exist, the phrase "under God" might as well offend people who are polytheists.
  • "under god" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by physicsboy500 (645835) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @06:31PM (#7213741)
    What I don't understand is why christians in general would get so upset when we want to take one line out to include all. Simply put I'm sure they would be as offended if we were to begin saying something like "under Bhudda" or "under no god" as some ppl are about saying "under god" in the first place. Times have changed, with them go the rules
  • Typical michael (Score:2, Insightful)

    by helix400 (558178) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @06:32PM (#7213747) Journal
    Gee michael.

    I guess there's nothing left to comment on, since the story was more of a long editorial rant than a newspiece.
  • Online Rights (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IM6100 (692796) <elben@mentar.org> on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @06:32PM (#7213752)
    What does this have to do with online rights?

    What does it have to do with anything Nerds are interested in?

    It seems more like a topic for a civil libertarian blog.

    I'm not saying the government is right or wrong. I'm just asserting this is off topic. Michael, can't you find another website to pound your drums on?
  • This bothers me.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SoIosoft (711513) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @06:35PM (#7213777)
    I think at some point, the seperation of church and state goes a bit too far. Take the pledge as a whole, not word by word. It's not religious in nature; it's about the country and what it stands for. And what it stands are isn't forcing religion on people, but about freedom, liberty, and justice. Sometimes it gets a big silly, just like forcing the Ten Commandments out of the courtroom. Remember, the Ten Commandments is a very early and almost universally understood code of laws. Nobody would object if Hammurabi's Code was in the courtroom. Just because it mentions religion or God doesn't mean it's forcing religion on people. And remember, saying the pledge is voluntary, and after the first grade, I don't ever remember reciting it in class.
  • by Decaffeinated Jedi (648571) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @06:36PM (#7213782) Homepage Journal
    Given the sometimes cruel nature of peer pressure and cliques in public schools, do students really have that much of a viable choice in this matter--or do they risk being labeled as "anti-American" and treated as a social outcast if they decide to sit out on the recitation of the pledge? I'd argue that there's more to it from a social standpoint than students just not saying the pledge if they don't want to.
  • Under God is True (Score:0, Insightful)

    by carlcmc (322350) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @06:40PM (#7213806)
    This is not a troll nor a flame it is my opinion, and similar to millions of Americans.

    This country was founded "under God". It was founded by those who could not worship God because of persecution. There i s n o d e b a t e about this. This is history. If you disagree, return to your history classes. This phrase in no way establishes a state religion. This simply recognizes what has happened. The prohibition of state and religion is not that it cannot be reccognized. It is a prohibition of establishing a religion BY THE STATE and ENFORCED BY THE STATE that all most adhere to.

    You are free to worship some buddha or something, but that does not change what this nation is. A nation founded by people seeking to worship God free from persecution.
  • Re:"under god" (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Nagatzhul (158676) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @06:41PM (#7213822)
    America was formed on Christian principles, not Buddhist principles. It is a Christian country and it is defined and based on those assumptions. If you change that, then the assumptions loose their value. If you can change those assumptions, you can deny people their rights.
  • God's Pals (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Viking Coder (102287) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @06:50PM (#7213874)
    It's always amazing to me how much people think that God needs defending.

    Your relationship with God is the only important thing in the universe, and you don't need a government to tell you how to have a good relationship with your deity.

    And I don't need the government telling me how to have a good relationship with your deity. And you don't need the government telling you how to have a good relationship with my deity.

    Our country is also strong enough to not have to declare that it exists through God's will. We made it, not God. The prophet George Washington didn't see a burning bush that implored him to lead his soldiers across the Delaware.

    Our nation, like every human institution, is fallible. The more we bring God into it, the less we respect him, our nation, and ourselves.

    God might help you make your personal choices, but you make bad decisions, too. Giving God the credit for your successes, and taking personal blame for your failures is dehumanizing to you and everyone else, and it leads to both a sense of false security (in your bad decisions), and false insecurity (questioning your relationship with God, just because you messed up.)

    P.S. - if this comment pissed you off, then contemplate living in a country that forces you to worship a God that you don't believe in. Now, recognize that's exactly what you're asking other people to do in America. It's not YOUR country - it's OUR country. And the only way we can all get along, is to keep separate our personal and political worlds.

    You have your personal relationship with your God, I have my personal relationship with my God - and the laws of this land should not give either one of us preferential treatment.

    God != America
  • by tuba_dude (584287) <tuba.terry@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @06:50PM (#7213884) Homepage Journal
    Hold on a sec. If it was put in in the 50's, that would mean that it wasn't there longer than it has been there. If they changed it then, why not put it back? That would be the real culture and tradition that we need to worry about messing with. Then again, why are we trying to keep these entirely human ideas set in stone? People change, times change, our ideas change. Since we are the ones following the traditions, why should they not change as well?
  • by Animaether (411575) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @06:52PM (#7213895) Journal
    ck when the "under God" words were added to the Pledge back in the 50's I would have agreed that it was improper and it should have gone to the courts back then.


    and

    Don't mess with our culture and traditions.


    You do realize that up until said 50's, the culture and traditions did not include the 'under God' bit, right ?
    Which means that back then culture/traditions were already messed with.

    Why do you oppose any notion of the same sort of thing happening now ?
  • by mshomphe (106567) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @06:53PM (#7213903) Homepage Journal
    This ties directly in to the Texas case (Santa Fe [cornell.edu], I think). You may not have to recite the pledge (although in this case, I believe pledging was compulsory; please correct me if I'm wrong), but school property is being used to endorse a theistic viewpoint. Moreover, the message broadcast is that this is the position of the authorities.

    What everyone must keep in mind is the First Amendment:
    [cornell.edu]
    Congress shall make no law
    respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof


    I as an individual can profess my religious (non-)affiliations as much as I want. However, agents of the state cannot endorse or reject a religion while acting as said agents. Using school property to communicate a message with a distinctly theistic slant ("one nation, under God") is unconstitutional (again, see the Santa Fe v. Doe ruling). The state can't say one way or another about god (much in the way that Science should remain agnostic barring distinct evidence one way or another) unless it's in discussing religion in a neutral context. This doesn't mean that teachers can't pray, be religious, nor students; rather, you can't use public property or act on behalf of the government in a coercive way when doing it.
  • by m0rph3us0 (549631) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @06:54PM (#7213912)
    When you put quotes from other people regarding "God" on the monument to it becomes religious, if you put quotes on the monument regarding law then it becomes about history.

    When the school requires students hear that the nation is under God it establishes religion, and infringes on the student's freedom from religion. If the pledge is ok then having a athiest teacher expouse the virtues of athiesm should be just as acceptable.
  • Re:Typical michael (Score:3, Insightful)

    by btakita (620031) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @06:55PM (#7213920) Homepage
    Yeah...this kindof defeats the purpose of comments.

    Anyways, if Michael can use his position to further his cause, is it ok for moderators to moderate in favor of there causes?

    Michael is clearly abusing his power. Wait a minute, abuse of power is something that Michael would complain about in one of his "editorials".

    So its ok to abuse power as long as it favors Michael's cause?
  • Re:"under god" (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @06:57PM (#7213940)
    The reason is this. Where does it stop? The founders absolutely founded this country under God and never intended God to be taken out of public discourse. If you read anything from the founders you would understand this. The current "understanding" of the separation of church and state is absolutely INCORRECT. It is freedom OF religion not freedom FROM religion. The provision was only to prevent the government from creating a state controlled religion not to separate religion from government.
  • by DaytonCIM (100144) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @07:11PM (#7214092) Homepage Journal
    1. Your opinion is not right, even if it is shared by millions of Americans.

    2. This country was not founded "under God." It was founded by a group of capitalists, industrialists, farmers, and soldiers seeking political and financial freedom from England.

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

    3) Clearly, the 1st Amendment prohibits the government from "respecting and establishment of religion"; hence, the government (including all persons acting on behalf of the government) cannot influence a person's religious choice, nor is the government allowed to promote any one religion over any other.

    4) It's not "some Buddha." It's just Buddha. And we don't worship him. We are guided by his teachings and his life; in a very similar fashion that Christians are guiding by Christ's teachings and life.

    You should take the time to learn about other faiths, so that when you speak of alternate beliefs you a) know more about what you're talking and b) you don't come off sounding condescending and disrespectful.
  • by randyest (589159) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @07:13PM (#7214106) Homepage
    It's not the original. The original pledge had no reference to god, as has been said several times already, it was added in the 1950s.

    I'm not a pledge expert -- that info came in while I was posting. Thank you for the info.

    That's a fine theory, if not for the fact that that's not the original. The phrase "under God" was added during the 50s as part of McCarthyism's attack on godless communism. So, given that fact, I assume that you will be supporting the return of the Pledge to it's "original" godless version?

    Again, I didn't know that, and yes, I do absolutely support the return of the pledge to its original godless version. More importantly, though (and this was my original point, and it stands), whether or not the "official" pledge becomes godless or not, there needs to be a godless version available for whatever purposes require a pledge today.
  • by Procyon101 (61366) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @07:15PM (#7214149) Journal
    Morality is governed by the individual, the state has no business governing morality, only to protect the rights of the people to govern their own. In your world, the state could just as easily govern that it is "immoral" to believe in your God, and then you are screwed.

    You might be right that Society needs a stronger source of principles, but Society != Government. Society is too valuable to be entrusted to an all too fallable government that sways it's principles in the winds of popular opinion.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @07:24PM (#7214273)
    > Is there anything wrong with the Pledge? Is there
    > anything wrong with saying it? Is there anything
    > wrong with believing what you are saying?

    Is there anything wrong with coercing a pledge from children? Is there anything wrong with forcing children of a variety of religious and non-religious backgrounds to make religious pledges involving someone else's religion? Don't know where you come from buddy, but I'd say it's wrong.

    > Is there anything wrong with having pride in your
    > country, even if you don't agree with its
    > government sometimes?

    No, blind patriotism is a fabulous tool for autocrats. It's great in fact. I think the Taliban would rate it really well.

    But here's a question for you - exactly what do coerced pledges have to do with patriotism? The typical reason we see forced shows of patriotism is that some political party is trying to prove that it's more patriotic than another. How pathetic.

    You probably have a flag on your car as well, don't you? That was the fashionable way to flaunt patriotism last year - but now they're mostly dirty and tattered. The folks who put them up were looking for a lazy way to show support for our country and have shown that they're often too lazy to even take them down when they're filthy and torn.

    > Anti-Americanism within America is really annoying.

    Not half as annoying as Americans that think free speach and critical thinking are unamerican. What does America mean to you? A totalitarian theocracy in which you're left alone as long as you never critize a conservative move in government?
  • by RexHowland (71795) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @07:27PM (#7214334)
    I'm by no means anti-religion*, but I do object to the presence of "one nation under God" in the pledge.

    Especially considering that "under God" was added after the fact. And it's not actually that I object to the words themselves; were the pledge simply a poem or some other form of expression, the inclusion of "under God" is perfectly okay by me.

    But because the pledge is more-or-less sanctioned by the government (and also general social properness), I feel the inclusion of those words is a misuse of authority.

    They're as unfair as "under Jesus," as unfair as "under many gods," and as unfair as "under no gods."

    They're also as unfair as "one nation, whose citizens have blonde hair, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

    We don't have things like that in it; they apply to everybody. So why do personal beliefs have to be a part of it? Why can't we simple be "one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all?"

    * I think everyone has the right to believe what they wish, and that nobody else has a right to dictate that.
  • Re:Typical michael (Score:3, Insightful)

    by helix400 (558178) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @07:29PM (#7214358) Journal
    Slashdot is supposed to be a news site. Not an unprofessional editorial ranting page.

    Generally, most of the Slashdot editors keep their political biases in check when submitting stories. CmdrTaco and Timothy are both liberal, but do pretty well in keeping the stories more moderate than they'd personally like. (It must be pretty hard rejecting biased stories they want people to see to keep things fair.)

    Michael on the other hand, frequently abuses his status...any long term slashdotter knows that. He has no problem He posts biased story after baised story. He claims to be a free thinking liberal, out to check any story that "is grossly misleading, almost propagandistic." Yet ironically, he stoops to the same misleading, propagandistic means to fight against what he thinks is wrong. [slashdot.org]

    Since nobody here reads the damn articles anyway, I think it was quite useful of him to do so. I didn't know that state laws existed mandating the Pledge in classrooms, and I'm glad he pointed that out.

    His comments belong in the comments section, not on the front page. There you can agree with it, mod it up if you'd like, or whatever. If you and michael still disagree, then Slashdot should change their motto to "Editorials for liberals, stuff to rant about."
  • by DaveJay (133437) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @07:36PM (#7214452)
    I, too, recited the "under God" part throughout grade school, even though I didn't believe in God*. It was one of many things that made me feel like I didn't belong, like I was some kind of freak or outcast.

    Once I got to high school, I realized that there wasn't anything wrong with me or my (non-religious) beliefs -- but up until that time I had assumed, based in part on the pledge, that everyone else (outside of some immediate family members) believed in God, and that I must be really messed up.

    So personally, I wouldn't mind seeing the "under God" part go away, although inserting a pause for other people to say "under God" if they want to seems like a reasonable thing to do.

    - - -

    *My mother raised me Lutheran, church every Sunday and Bible school and whatnot, until one day I said "I don't want to go to Bible school." She asked, "Why not?" and I replied, "All they talk about is God, and I don't believe in God." I was ten years old at the time. My mother told me that she felt it was her obligation to raise me as she was raised until I was old enough to make up my own mind, at which point my beliefs were my own business. Go Mom! Ultimately, my mother still goes to church, my father doesn't, one of my sisters doesn't, one of my sisters does, and I occasionally consider joining a Unitarian church for the snacks.
  • What I want (Score:2, Insightful)

    by soft_guy (534437) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @07:44PM (#7214534)
    As an atheist, I would be willing to leave the references to God in the pledge and on our money if we could put "We love our dark Lord Satan" on our coins.

    That's all I ask, a little fairness.
  • by bamberg (9311) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @07:53PM (#7214642)
    You only like the pledge the way it is because it promotes your religion. If it referenced "Allah" or "Satan" or "Zeus" or any of the other imaginary gods people have invented you'd be marching on Washington to get it changed.

    Incidentally, what's your reference for your "90+%" claim? Not that it really matters whether or not a majority want the phrase in; this is not a Christian nation, never was and never will be.

    Let's hope the USSC has the courage to recognize that.

    Eric Bamberg
    Atheist
  • by An Onerous Coward (222037) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @08:02PM (#7214718) Homepage
    First, atheism is a category, not a religion. Atheism has no dogmas, no creeds, no forms of worship, no heresies, and no principles. To be an atheist, you simply cannot believe that there is a God. Any principle you try to add to that (and it certainly does need more in order to become a belief system, much less a religion) requires a new word.

    Atheism has no position on morality (except so far as an atheist cannot logically follow the "divine command" principle of morality). It has no opinion on abortion. It has no opinion on evolution. Atheism does not require belief in the Big Bang, or moral relativism, or the existence of the soul. Given non-belief in a God, some positions appear more likely than others, but none are required. I can be a pro-life, anti-evolution, moral objectivist who believes that he will be reincarnated as Steven Segal after he dies, and still be an atheist.

    Glad that's cleared up.

    Now, if "one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all" somehow supports the atheist "religion," what else is it implicitly endorsing through its silence? Well, it doesn't say anything against child-mulching machines, so it must be implying that they should be built and used to keep down the population. It doesn't say "one nation, with no nuclear strikes called in on Lindon, Utah," so the pledge is implicitly endorsing the annihilation of SCO's headquarters. To which I say, "Rock on!"

    "Under God" doesn't belong in the pledge, and removing it simply remedies an inappropriate use of government power to promote a sectarian agenda.
  • Question: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by IthnkImParanoid (410494) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @08:02PM (#7214720)
    Was the "voluntary" prayer organized read by the teachers? Is the fact the prayer was crafted by the New York State Board of Regents inconsequential? Most (if not all) prayer-in-school cases I've heard had voluntary student participation that was "voluntary" in the same way the boss selling candy bars for his kid is "voluntary."
  • by JustAnotherReader (470464) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @08:08PM (#7214778)
    Read his comment again. What he said was

    No state has a law prohibiting anyone from reciting the pledge voluntarily, whenever they want to.

    What you said was

    there ARE LAWS AGAINST VOLUNTARY PRAYER

    That's 2 completly different things. He said there is no law keeping anyone from reciting the pledge. He said nothing about laws that keep you from leading prayer groups in school. So rather than accusing him of spending zero time researching his article you should spend a bit more than zero time reading it.

  • by LinuxIsStillBetter (536524) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @08:08PM (#7214779)
    What say we just leave the kids alone, hmmmm?

    Why not try pushing legislation to require (make available) the Pledge of Allegiance in the workplace at the start of every business day.

    At least then, you're doing it to voters who have a chance to let you know whether or not they approve....
  • by madcow_ucsb (222054) <{ten.sknas} {ta} {2todhsals}> on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @08:09PM (#7214783)
    The Pledge != A Prayer

    And why is there such a need to lead a group prayer in the classroom? At my HS there were independent christian clubs (I'm not sure how the faculty was related - they may have been allowed to participate but not when class was in session or something, not 100% sure), they just did their group praying during lunch or break or whatever....the Christians were happy cuz they could still pray, the non-Christians were happy cuz they didn't have to sit thru it.

    I have no problem with people praying at school, I just don't see why it has to be when class is in session. I don't think god's gonna strike you down if you wait 15 minutes just for the sake of ending the silly argument. Ya know, avoiding conflict, promoting peace, and all that?
  • by ponxx (193567) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @08:09PM (#7214786)
    > No state has a law prohibiting anyone from reciting the pledge voluntarily,
    > whenever they want to
    [..]
    You claim this is wrong because:
    "A 22 word prayer, crafted by the New York State Board of Regents, was read aloud daily in public school classrooms. Student participation was voluntary. On June 25, 1962, the Court ruled the Regents' prayer unconstitutional."

    There is a difference between:

    - a student voluntarily saying a prayer, e.g. before having lunch, as they enter the school, etc. etc.

    and

    - a prayer being read out in the classroom

    the former is a private exercise of the freedom of religion while the latter is a clear endorsement by the school of the contents of that prayer.

    Aside from constitutionality, my assesment of whether i or my religion should be allowed something is based on whether I would allow a group who's views i'm diametrically opposed to to do the same. E.g. if the majority opinion changes would i want my child to listen to a pledge saying "one nation under satan", even if it did not have to participate.
  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @08:16PM (#7214841) Homepage Journal
    A 22 word prayer, crafted by the New York State Board of Regents, was read aloud daily in public school classrooms. Student participation was voluntary. On June 25, 1962, the Court ruled the Regents' prayer unconstitutional.
    In a public school, I cannot lead a group prayer, even voluntarily. Prayer must be seperate from the school. ... Despite what the all-knowing michael says, evidently after 0 minutes of research, there ARE LAWS AGAINST VOLUNTARY PRAYER.
    You are, I suspect deliberately, confusing the issue. A prayer "read aloud daily in public school classrooms" is not voluntary, especially not when crafted by a government body. The students have no choice about being there; those who don't believe in the particular brand of religion being pushed either have to sit there and take it, or (if the school allows them to) leave the room -- either way they're singling themselves out.

    As a non-religious student in our supposedly Godless public schools, I was subjected to constant abuse for my lack of beliefs, up to and including having a knife held to my throat, with the full knowledge of the teachers. And no, I didn't push my non-beliefs on others; I simply answered honestly when people asked me questions about what I believed, and why I didn't say the "under God" part when we recited the Pledge. That is what "voluntary" prayer as an official part of the school day gets you.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @08:27PM (#7214924)
    "having impressionable CHILDREN reciting a pledge/oath to their country every morning before school"

    Isn't that the typical procedure of indoctrination in totalitarian societies?
  • God (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pyrrho (167252) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @08:50PM (#7215156) Journal
    not all religions involve God, capital G. And too many protestants have tried to convince me that atheist is a religion to think that "under God" does not in fact establish a religion that is not ahtiesm. It might not be Baptist... maybe it's a whole new America Under God religion. Maybe the God is a whole new kind of god, like a giant dog that plays banjo and drinks Italian Soda, but whatever it is, it's not paganism, it's not atheism, it's not Zoroastrianism or a thousand other religions.

    It DOES establish a religion, what on eath else could it be doing there. Is it a historical comment?
  • by Blondie-Wan (559212) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @08:53PM (#7215186) Homepage
    I'm unaware of any laws that LEGALLY REQUIRE a given student to recite the Pledge. I agree with laws that require schools to have students recite the Pledge, just as I did. But if there are any laws that require the STUDENT to participate I would be in favor of having THAT law overturned.

    Well, for starters, the set of laws objected to by the atheist whose objections to having his daughter recite the Pledge got this ball rolling in the first place say as much, according to the original court ruling:

    Newdow is an atheist whose daughter attends public elementary school in the Elk Grove Unified School District ("EGUSD") in California.
    In accordance with state law and a school district rule, EGUSD teachers begin each school day by leading their students in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance ("the Pledge"). The California Education Code requires that public schools begin each school day with "appropriate patriotic exercises" and that "[t]he giving of the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America shall satisfy" this requirement. Cal. Educ. Code 52720 (1989) (hereinafter "California statute").1 To implement the California statute, the school district that Newdow's daughter attends has promulgated a policy that states, in pertinent part: "Each elementary school class [shall] recite the pledge of allegiance to the flag once each day."
    1 The relevant portion of California Education Code 52720 reads:

    In every public elementary school each day during the school year at the beginning of the first regularly scheduled class or activity period at which the majority of the pupils of the school normally begin the schoolday, there shall be conducted appropriate patriotic exercises. The giving of the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America shall satisfy the requirements of this section.
    (emphasis added)

    That's the law there. According to some news coverage of the issue, there are similar laws in other localities.

    Those that somehow bring slavery into this discussion lose site of the relative magnitude and importance of each of the issues--especially their impact on those "affected."

    I never made any claims about the relative magnitude and importance of the issues; of course slavery had a worse effect than coerced recitation of the Pledge. That's not the point, though - the principles are the same. In both instances a minority is unjustly made to do something by the majority. I can't agree just because 51%, 99%, or any percentage of the people in between believes in God, gives them the right to make the schoolchildren of the remaining people recite a pledge making a (completely superfluous) reference to God and avowing His existence. Nobody is making Christian kids swear oaths avowing the existence of Zeus or Shiva; why should kids who don't believe in God be forced to make pledges acknowledging His existence? If yours were the minority belief system, woud you want your kids made to recite a pledge acknowledging some deity you don't recognize?

  • by qtp (461286) on Wednesday October 15, 2003 @12:11AM (#7216376) Journal
    I've seen polls showing 90%+ in favor of leaving the Pledge as-is.

    Could you provide us with a link? I'd like to see who conducted these polls, the way the questions were worded, perhaps who was paying for the polls to be conducted. I'd hardly believe that a poll paid for by the Moral Majority, Inc. would be objective, and I'm relatively certain that there's damn little that 90% of Americans would agree on.

    Is there anything wrong with the Pledge? Is there anything wrong with saying it? Is there anything wrong with believing what you are saying? Is there anything wrong with having pride in your country, even if you don't agree with its government sometimes?

    Yes, no, no, and no. The point is that if a state is requiring the pledge be recited in school, you better pull that stupid line about god out of the otherwise harmless piece of idolitorous poetry. Requiring the pledge is requiring the students to declare belief in a religeous system that they might not hold. And that, my friend is anti-American.

    This is to say nothing about the fact that the pledge is declaration of devotion to a piece of cloth (idolitory?), and a nation without any reference to the principles upon which this great nation was founded. Perhaps a pledge to the Constitution and Bill of Rights would be more apropriate, but then the religeous conservative lobby would hardly be in favor of that now, would they.

    Anti-Americanism within America is really annoying.

    I'd hardly call unflagging commitment to the principles embodied in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights "anti-Americanism", but then Joseph McCarthy probably would have disagreed with me. And apparently so would you. The whole loyalty oath issue really pisses me off, as it has been used in the past (and I'm sure it will be again in the near future) to paint loyal Americans as being anti-American for the simple crime of having commitment to thier beliefs and some grain of integrity.

    One of the principle ideals that makes this country the great nation worth your (and my own) loyalty is that we have the right to dissent against our government, to dissagree with the authorities, and to hold differing beliefs (or no belief at all) about god, divinity and religeous expirience. If you throw these ideals to the wind in order to satisfy your nostalgia for a rather poorly written and misguided poem, you've just cheapened our basic national principles as a whole.

    (I served my country to defend your right to burn it's flag. The piece of cloth fluttering above is rather pretty, but it doesn't mean shit if the paper this country is built upon is forgotten.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 15, 2003 @01:42AM (#7216744)

    I think there are a few basic issues that people have been glossing over in their discussions of the Pledge of Allegiance that need to be examined in greater detail.

    As a reminder, here is the government's post-1954 version:

    I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

    What does "pledge" mean? It simply means "to promise," but in a very formal and serious way. "Allegiance" is just a synonym of "loyalty," but again it connotes more than just casual loyalty. So the first phrase of the Pledge could be simplified as "I formally promise loyalty to the American flag."

    What is the moral status of promises to inanimate objects? In most moral systems, promises can only be made between or among "moral agents," i.e. those things that have self-awareness, hopes, dreams, goals, and desires.

    Suppose I made a "promise" to my lawn, e.g. "I promise to mow, fertilize, and water you regularly so that you'll be beautiful and healthy." Now suppose that I "broke" that "promise" and my lawn turned brown and died. It seems that no promise, in the moral sense, would have been broken, since the lawn is not a person or moral agent, and so there was no actual promise in existence.

    Or suppose I made another "promise": "Dear computer, I promise to upgrade your OS on or around January 1, 2003." Now let's say that I did not, in fact, upgrade the OS. Again, did I "break" a "promise" to an inanimate object?

    But I can already hear people saying that the flag represents America, and so the promise is to the American republic or people, which are moral agents. However, the "and" after the first comma in the Pledge implies that the flag is NOT the republic. In fact, it states that the flag represents America.

    But perhaps the flag is the American people, and so the first phrase really means: "I promise loyalty to the American people." However, this seems not to be the case. The flag is the abstract pattern of stars & stripes that we all know and love, and also the piece of cloth or other substrate upon which this pattern is imprinted. The American people are roughly 300 million individual biological organisms composed of DNA, protein, and other organic molecules. The flag and the American people seem to be different things, i.e. they are not the same thing. So the phrase "I pledge allegiance to the flag" does not mean "I promise loyalty to the American people."

    Ah, but I can hear other people saying: "But that first phrase is really poetry! Don't take it so literally!" However, in point of fact, the Pledge is not poetry. It is prose. In fact, it is government prose.

    If we accept the fact that the Pledge is prose, and that words have meaning, then it seems inescapable that when we force schoolchildren to say "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America," that we are forcing children to make nonsensical promises to inanimate objects.

    Let's move on to the second phrase:

    . . . and to the republic for which it stands: . . .

    This is a formal promise of loyalty to the American republic.

    But what is the moral status of promises made by children? Anyone who has ever dealt with or who has ever been a child knows that children are "persons," i.e. moral agents with self-awareness, hopes, dreams, goals, and desires, and so that promises made by children are morally binding.

    For example, let's imagine that two 8-year-old children, Simon and Judas, formally agree to meet at a certain time & place to play "catch", i.e. to practice throwing and catching a baseball with baseball mitts. (It's good practice to get familiar with doing this and they both play Little League baseball.) Now suppose that Simon arranges his busy schedule and shows up at the agreed time & place, but Judas is playing Xbox and "It's like s

  • by MonkeyDluffy (577002) on Wednesday October 15, 2003 @06:44AM (#7217669)
    Because the tradition DOESN'T violate the law.


    It's not just a tradition - it is a *pledge*. I really cannot understand how people like you can trivialize the importance of pledges. You are not supposed to pledge to other gods ("Thou shalt not put any other gods before me"), yet you expect others to pledge to your god.


    When I have gotten into a discussion with people who are arguing for prayer in school, I ask them if they would be willing to have the prayers on some days be to Allah. It's amazing how quickly they backtrack when another faith is given the same consideration that they are asking for. Would you be as willing to say the pledge if it was changed to "under Allah"?


    -MDL

  • by axxackall (579006) on Wednesday October 15, 2003 @09:18PM (#7225560) Homepage Journal
    This nation was founded by people trying to ...

    ... kill as much indians as possible i order to steal their territories. Sad to see people forgeting that their hands are in blood inheritantly.

"There is hopeful symbolism in the fact that flags do not wave in a vacuum." --Arthur C. Clarke

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