California Will Continue To declare “In God We Trust”!
On March 13, 2010, George Berkin, from the NJ Voices: Opinions from New Jersey, REALLY went out on a limb. He came across as a Baptist preacher, just short of giving us a Halleujah! He payed dearly for it in the oh so very entertaining comments section, which I include at the bottom of this post.
Praise for Pledge of Allegiance ruling
March 13, 2010, 12:58AM
California may always be the wackiest state in the nation, but — surprise! — some wonderful common sense came out of that locale this week: a federal appeals court ruled that including “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance is constitutional.
Who ’d a thunk it?
Overturning its earlier ruling, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday gave thumbs down to Michael Newdow, a professed atheist who filed suit claiming the two-word phrase acknowledging the divine disrespected his anti-religious beliefs.
At the same time, the court, one of the nation’s most “liberal,” also ruled unanimously that it’s okay for “In God We Trust” to appear on currency.
In its rulings this week, the three-judge panel gave us many reasons to cheer, a celebration that should resonate from the West Coast to the nation’s capital and New Jersey.
(A brief history: Eight years ago, Newdow persuaded the court, which has jurisdiction over much of the western U.S., but the ruling was subsequently overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. Newdow then re-vamped and re-filed his suit before the appeals court.)
(As for the pledge, it was originally published in a children’s magazine in 1892, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ discovery of the New World. “Under God” was added in 1954, during the Eisenhower years.)
Writing for the 2-1 majority in the pledge ruling, Judge Carlos Bea got it right. “The Pledge of Allegiance,” he wrote, “serves to unite our vast nation through the proud recitation of some of the ideals upon which our Republic was founded.”
So why is the ruling a wise one? Why is it important that the pledge include those simple words acknowledging that the nation is under divine authority?
First, in contrast to what some secularists argue, including “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance does not somehow violate the spirit or the letter of the Constitution.
Here’s what the First Amendment to the Constitution says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …” In other words, the federal government may not set up a state religion. The Founding Fathers did not want a New World version of the Church of England.
And second, if you want to practice your religion, the federal government has no right to stop you from doing so.
Clearly, including “under God” does not set up a state religion, nor does it prohibit religious practice. If a parent objects to the wording of the pledge, a child reciting with her classmates can easily remain silent for the half-second is says to say those “painful” two words. (Most children, if left untutored by adults hostile to religion, are happy to acknowledge the obvious – that the nation is under God.)
Instead of establishing a state religion, the inclusion of “under God” – a simple, non-sectarian acknowledgement of the divine – simply looks toward the framework upon which the Founding Fathers built this nation.
Again, as a reminder, the Declaration of Independence declares that it is “self-evident” that our freedoms are a gift of the Creator God. Thomas Jefferson was non-sectarian, but he and his colleagues clearly affirmed that the new nation is “under” a divine covering.
But there is another reason to include “under God” in the pledge, a very practical reason from the perspective of history. Although school children say the Pledge of Allegiance as a matter of routine, the pledge is, in fact, an oath of loyalty to the nation. After all, we “pledge allegiance to the flag, and to the nation, for which it stands,” with its promises of “liberty and justice for all.”
And fortunately, with our nation’s founding “under God,” that has been an oath of allegiance to something worthy of our loyalty, something that hasn’t betrayed our trust.
In my view, the reason that our nation, for the most part, hasn’t betrayed our trust is exactly the part of the pledge that Newdow objects to – the recognition by our nation that it is, in a non-sectarian sense, “under God.”
If that seems so much theory or dogma, consider the 20th century history of three nations that defiantly regarded themselves as most definitely not “under God” – Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia and Maoist China.
In those societies, rulers asserted that the state was the highest authority. Not being “under” a higher authority, those rulers found their power unchecked, resulting in millions of deaths. There was also no religious freedom.
And so, “under God,” far from being a limit on freedom, is itself a guarantee of freedom, even for the non-believer. By acknowledging that government is not the final authority, “under God” provides a framework for individuals to choose whatever religion their conscience dictates, or no religion at all.
Finally, what’s so wrong with acknowledging, even in this very mild way, God’s sovereignty over our nation? Nobody wants to force anybody, but a little national humility couldn’t hurt.
Besides, the biblical text says that God will bless those who honor him.
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This decision is only a case of “temporary sanity” by the crazy 9th. The decision was 2-1, but the concurring judge found the reasoning “misguided”. After Feinstein and Boxer find people lulu enough to suit their bizarre agenda, Obama will return the court to its original looniness. California is, afterall, California. No one can explain Oregon or Washington. So, enjoy the moment.
You’re an uneducated imbecile George Berkin. If you want to live in a Theocracy, go live in the Vatican.
You are wrong that the Supreme Court overturned Newdow eight years ago. The Court instead held that he did not have standing to bring the suit; it did not address the merits of his arguments. Quite frankly, the Court was likely afraid to touch such a hot topic, and Newdow is no dummy. He makes a compelling case (whatever your opinion of it is), and his performace at oral argument was exceptional (you can listen to it at http://www.oyez.org). He will appeal this latest ruling as well, and it will be interesting to see if the new Court, with three new members compared to last time, will take the case and, if it does, how it will rule. Should be exciting one way or another.
Embry24u: Name calling doesn’t really further the argument, wouldn’t you agree?
I’m sorry that you feel that any kind of (very mild) nod to a power higher than government is “living in a theocracy.”
I must respectfully disagree.
Your statement that the First Amendment prevents the federal government from setting up a state religion is correct. But is does much more. I would interpret the phrase “establishment of religion” as meaning an edifice or building of religion, as in church, temple, mosque, or meeting house. (This is actually the phrase that James Madison used once when writing about the First Amendment when vetoing a bill.) Thereby the First Amendment prevents the federal government from making a law that impacts religion in any regard. If you are focusing on the word “establishment” as meaning “to establish”, it would allow Congress to designate an already established religion as a national religion.
However, let’s evaluate your interpretation and its relationship to the Pledge of Allegiance.
You say that the term “God” is “a simple non-secular” acknowledgment of the divine. If by “non-secular” you mean that it encompasses many religions, please note that it is capitalized. It is clearly a reference to the Judaio-Christian God of the Bible. This would be exclusionary not only of atheists, but of any other religions that do not worship that god.
If, as you imply, Congress has the power to pass legislation inserting “under God” into the Pledge of Allegiance, and then mandate its recitation, would they also have the power to mandate that everyone must attend some form of worship at least once a week? It would not matter which religious service they attended, as long as they worship the “non-secular” God. This is not establishing a national religion; it is not preventing anyone from practicing their religion; it is merely acknowledging the “framework upon which the Founding Fathers built this nation”.
I think you would agree that that would clearly be unconstitutional and clearly anathema to a free society.
I understand that, as a man of the Christian faith, you have no objections to the phrase “under God”. But if you concede this authority to Congress, you concede the authority for them to make it anything they want. Could they change the phase to “under our Lord Jesus Christ”? You may not object to that, but people of the Jewish faith would certainly object. Granting Congress this authority is a very dangerous precedent. They could change it to “one nation under Allah” or “one nation under Buddha” or “one nation under the Flying Spaghetti Monster”.
If it was changed to “one nation under Satan” would you simply advise your children to “remain silent for the half second it took to say those painful two words”?
First I wasn’t trying to have an argument. Just making an observation. But since you wanted to make an issue out of it, Ok. It’s not name calling when its true. Take it or leave it, that’s your hold up. In a public venue there should be no nod to any higher power other then in that higher powers place of worship. Wear a t-shirt, wear a piece of jewelry(I find a lot of religious jewelry and art quite beautiful actually), put a sign on your front lawn, place a bumper sticker on your car; whatever makes you happy. Just don’t force my to possess that particular item. And since money is a tangible item that would make the cut. What makes “God” any more important then Allah, Zeus, Apollo, GaGa, Buddha or even Jesus for that matter? And before you say anything, I have no religion, I do not believe in Lucifer or the like, and I am not an Atheist. I’m all for having pride in your country. I pledge allegiance to the USA Flag but I also pledge to my own flag. I leave out the god part because I don’t believe in him/her. Anything that forces a religion onto others is a theocracy. And you cannot say that there is more then just a nod going on in this country. You keep your religion and your god to yourself and I will keep my spiritual beliefs to myself. THAT is the American way.
That last statement was suppose to be: You cannot say that there isn’t more then just a nod going on in this country. You keep your religion and your god to yourself and I will keep my spiritual beliefs to myself. THAT is the American way.
George- Nice article, & I do agree with the ruling.
enjayboy: Thanks for your comments, but here is why I disagree. First, there is a HUGE difference between merely including two words in the pledge of allegiance, and mandating attendance at a weekly worship service. One is a very reasonable (and very brief) nod to a notion that there is something beyond ourselves, while the other is compulsory religious worship.
And, as the Soviet etc. examples show, it’s beneficial (even for non-believers) to live in a nation in which the government acknowledges that it is not the ultimate authority.
Second, nearly everyone believes that some sort of God exists. “God” in “under God” is general enough that most people would be okay with that name for the divine. By contrast, “Buddha” or “Allah” are so specific to particular religious beliefs (and very much minority beliefs) that most people would feel excluded.
blah blah blah. The minorities beliefs are nothing and yours are the only one to be respected. Ego is not attractive.
Embry24u: Just between you and me, and honest now: In America, sex and violence are rampant in movies and the media, schools are a mess, many politicians are corrupt and many business leaders are dishonest, abortion is rampant, drugs are a plague, etc etc etc …
And you worry that America is about to become a theocracy?
To each his/her own. As long as nobody is coming into my home and telling me what to say, what to do, who to be, what to believe in, what to watch and is not threatening my life. It’s none of my business. That is nothing new in the media. You can thank freedom of expression, and speech for that. I agree maybe things have gotten a little in your face, but thats life deal with it. You don’t want to watch that movie, don’t watch it. Not all movies are suppose to be for kids. Sugar coating things is not going to make things better. Life isn’t leave it to beaver. I’m sure I don’t have to remind you how I feel about the government, and how my tax money is used to discriminate against me and my family. My husband and I are having a little girl in just about 6 months from now. Good parents know how to monitor but they also know that they cannot control everything an everybody. Having a dollar that says “god” on it is not going to do anything other then buy food for my daughter. I don’t have a problem with the fiction on TV and in movies because there’s this thing called a remote. Use it. The schools in my town are perfectly fine. Athletics one of the best, test scores high, college acceptance and attendance high. I was one of 80 people in a class of 100 fighting for valitorian. My IQ is 3.8 I never got lower then a B+ all though high school and college. My husband is a Lawyer who graduated from Harvard with a 4.0. What my daughter doesn’t get from school, she will get from us.
that was suppose to be 1 of 80 in a class of 300…sorry its late and I’m tired.
lol….valedictorian…I’m an artist not a typist
Answer me this George, how is the theocracy working in Uganda? How about the Vatican with all the unadulterated scandals going on there with the clerics that work for the Pope? I do agree though that something needs to be done about the drug problem. Sure I did a little herbal in my first 2 years of college 3 years ago and every now and then my husband and I light up in social situations. We don’t do the hard stuff and we don’t smoke cigarettes. When our daughter is born we both vowed that our b-days will be the only time we ever do that, and not around our daughter. But yes there is a drug problem. Nothing new. and from what my mother says. its nothing like that 60’s and 70’s. That time was way worse. But I’m only 25 so don’t quote me on that.
Jefferson and Madison both attended religious services in the Capitol.
Did they force anyone else to attend?
I think you missed my main point.
Yes. There is a huge difference between inserting two words in the Pledge of Allegiance and mandating everyone go to church. But if you concede Congress to power to insert those words into the Pledge (and then mandate that the Pledge be recited in schools), it also gives them the power to mandate church attendance.
My point was that if the First Amendment only prevents the Federal Government from establishing a state religion, what would prevent them from mandating church attendance? Mandating attendance at any religious institution that worships the non-secular God is not establishing a state religion.
Just because “nearly everyone believes some sort of god exists” does not permit them to force that belief on others. One reason for a Constitution in the first place is to protect the minority from the majority.
Yes. There is a huge difference between inserting two words in the Pledge of Allegiance and mandating everyone go to church.
I’m not even sure I’d give him that. Seriously. One word is too much. If Mr. Belkin is going to make it a comparison of degree, where is the constitutional/unconstitutional line? Are 5 words too many? 30? How about mandating a prayer? Whoops, been there done that, now haven’t we? No. It’s not the number of words that are being mandated by the state, it’s the mandating itself that is unconstitutional.
Using Mr. Belkin’s logic, if the state told every child to stand up in class, raise their eyes to “heaven” and say “thank you, God”, that, being a “brief” acknowledgment of the divine, would be OK. Sorry, but that’s just stupid. (and I apologize in advance to Mr. Belkin for the ad hominem, but it’s there to make a point, not to gratuitously insult.)
No. Clearly Mr. Belkin is too wrapped up in seeing that his particular religion gets a nod in every classroom, to the exclusion of everyone else, because he thinks that “nearly everyone” believes in his god, in the process creating exactly what the Founding Fathers attempted to prevent – a tyranny of the majority.