Culture Wars: the Pledge of Allegiance Front

The U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled Wednesday that Virginia’s requirement that students recite the Pledge of Allegiance everyday in the classroom is constitutional. As reported in The Daily Press, “Virginia Attorney General Judith W. Jagdmann issued a press release Wednesday stating that the 4th Circuit ruled the pledge is not a religious exercise, “but a patriotic one,” and therefore does not violate the establishment clause.

Edward R. Myers, a 46-year-old, Mennonite software engineer from Northern Virginia, had filed the suit, objecting to schools “yoking patriotism and religion” by promoting what he described as a “God and Country civil religion.”

Fourth Circuit Appeals Court Judge Karen Williams wrote: “Undoubtedly, the pledge contains a religious phrase, and it is demeaning to persons of any faith to assert that the words `under God’ contain no religious significance. The inclusion of those two words, however, does not alter the nature of the pledge as a patriotic activity.”

I’m sorry, but I just don’t see how people get so exercised over this. If members of the mainstream culture want to recit the Pledge of Allegiance at school, with “under God” in the prayer, let them. If atheists want to skip over “under God” during the recital, let them. If Hate-America-Firsters want to skip over “with liberty and justice for all,” or sit out the entire recital, let them. Why it’s necessary to file lawsuits, with the consequence that judges issue rulings with “winners” and “losers,” is beyond me. There’s got to be a way where everyone’s point of view can be tolerated.

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  1. Ray Hyde Avatar

    “Why it’s necessary to file lawsuits, and judges have to issue rulings where there are “winners” and “losers,” is beyond me. There’s got to be a way where everyone’s point of view can be tolerated.”

    Amen, Jim. And it’s not just school prayer.

  2. The Jaded JD Avatar
    The Jaded JD

    Mennonites are not atheists. In point of fact, Mr. Myers, as I understand it, filed his lawsuit precisely because he believed using “under God” in the pledge diluted the faith he intended to instill in his school-aged children.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing Mr. Myers petition for rehearing en banc just to get the silly opinion vacated, even if the judgment ultimately stands. The words “under God” are religious, but the uttering of them is secular? Bah.

  3. Should people be required to vote too?
    Defending freedom?
    Where are the libertarians?

    Of course corporations should be required to recycle, just as schoolchildren should be required to cite the Pledge.

    I am not getting my panties in a wad over this, all I am saying is that it is a slippery slope to fascism and its good to watch the symptoms.

    Hey Jim, how’s that fiscally conservative arts center going?

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    “There’s got to be a way where everyone’s point of view can be tolerated.”

    There IS a way, Jim. It’s called “private schools” and it’s the ONLY option left for parents who are truly concerned about their children’s education. Now, let’s have private school vouchers so EVERYONE can afford to do the same!

  5. 1 million homeschooling families would question your assertion that private schools are the only option. In fact, the only way to truly be free to provide your children the education you desire is to do it yourself. Even private schools are going to require compromises.

  6. subpatre Avatar

    Judge Williams reasoning is both horribly mangled and wrong. So is the petitioners.

    In signing the amendment to add the words ‘under God’, President Eisenhower said, “In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future… [emphasis added]

    In the heyday of the Cold War, the Pledge’s wording was altered to affirm that the United States (unlike the Supreme Soviet) was not equal to divine status, but subservient to divinity.

    I’ve tried different permutations, but “under Creator”, “under Nature’s God”, and similar phrases don’t work. I have no problem with the wording, but question what’s gained by the compulsory –and therefore meaningless– exersize of pledging.

  7. Rural Not Stupid Avatar
    Rural Not Stupid

    I have a problem any time government is put into religion. The fact that a single judge decides the meaning of the words “under God” for an entire nation is disturbing to me. I learned what it means in church as a youth and I don’t need the government to help “clarify” its meaning!

    Subpatre also makes a good point “but question what’s gained by the compulsory –and therefore meaningless– exersize of pledging.”
    When I was pledgeing a Fraternity in college, we had to learn a “pledge.” I learned it because if I didn’t I might have to do push-ups. Today, I can’t remember past the first line and I don’t remember ever really paying attention to the words.

  8. James Young Avatar
    James Young

    Jim, you’re exactly right on this. What is shocking to me is the serial misreporting by the MSM. For hours, I kept hearing that this case was about forcing students to recite the Pledge which, of course, (1) it was not; and (2) was resolved in 1943 by the Supremes in Board of Education v. Barnette.

    Myers can make all the pretensions he wants to about protection his children’s faith from “dilution”; the simple fact is that his efforts seek to banish religion from the public square.

    If sincere, he would be better advised in filing suit to force school vouchers, so that the guarantee of a free/government-supported education could be realized without the interference of government schools. I would be much less skeptical of those who attack religion in the government schools if they weren’t so committed to the government-school monopoly. By juxtaposing these two elements, they amply demonstrate that their committment is not to education, but to government-controlled education, i.e., mind control.

  9. Anonymous Avatar

    Chris, forgive me for leaving out homeschooling as a viable option to public schools. Ultimately, that’s the BEST option, but only for those who feel qualified to teach their own.

  10. I grew up reciting the pledge. Did it leave me brainwashed to any particular belief? Nope. Did it cause me to rush to join one religion or another? Nope.

    The rehashings of this issue did make me look at the history of the pledge. So that was a good thing. But in the long run, I think we are digressing on how bad the coffee is, when the world around us is in tatters.

  11. Edward R. Myers Avatar
    Edward R. Myers

    People so easily dismiss the Pledge as much ado about nothing but miss the symbolism over whether government has eminent domain over the moral development of children.

    Here are the issues the court ignored:

    1) young children think the pledge is a prayer to a flag in God’s name or worse that nationalism itself is God;

    2) the pledge is a patriotic creed and our religious pluralism prevents adoption of Puritan Covenant Theology as the unifying framework for civic morality as expressed in a sacramental homage to a God and country worldview; and

    3) using God’s name as a moral gloss to burnish patriotic ideals into an sworn oath is blasphemy to those who take seriously the commandment not to take God’s name in vain.

    I am also disappointed the court chose to ignore the problems I continue to have getting teachers to even obey the law. I’ve made a big enough stink to scare the regular teachers, but substitute teachers regularily force my children to stand and recite the pledge.

    When the school puts out a press release that the pledge will be modified to say under Allah, under Buddah, etc. for multi-cultural week and no one complains, then I’ll believe that the pledge is about patriotism and not a surrogate for school prayer.

  12. subpatre Avatar

    Edward – I personally not fond of the Pledge, thinking I could write it better, but have no sympathy for your suit.

    The Pledge of Allegiance is a patriotic affirmation; it’s not a creed, oath, or prayer. Writing the word ‘God’ on any object doesn’t make it sacred; writing the word in a sentence doesn’t miraculously create a prayer.

    If very young children think the pledge is prayer, parents should explain what a pledge is; ideally assisted by teachers or staff. Children can be told they don’t have to recite it; the justification “We don’t believe in that” works.

    Though the ‘rebel’ in me isn’t fond of the Pledge; I can tolerate statements that aren’t exactly, perfectly, and absolutely flawless. I have little tolerance for sham sincerity to disguise a compulsive need for attention.

    The juxtaposition of burning flag decals pasted on buses, this complaint over the pledge, and the court case against new sheriff’s uniforms is just too much. This is simply legal vandalism.

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