Today, as most of you read this (December 4th), the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is hearing oral arguments against having the words ‘under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance, and “In God We Trust” on the money.
The Case Against ‘Under God’
The case against ‘under God’ in the Pledge is extremely simple.
The phrase, “with liberty and justice for all” was obviously included in the Pledge to promote liberty and justice – to inspire children to take a stand against tyranny and injustice. Similarly, the phrase “indivisible” was included to promote union over rebellion. After all, the Pledge was created in the 1890s and adopted by adults who had lived through the Civil War as a way of imparting certain values on their children who had not.
Denying that ‘under God’ was put into the pledge for the purpose of promoting religion is as absurd as denying that ‘indivisible, with liberty and justice for all’ was inserted to promote union, liberty, and justice respectively.
The fact that people are not legally punished for not saying the Pledge does not mitigate against this argument. Again, no sane and honest person would argue that a right to refuse to say the Pledge means that its intent is to promote union, liberty, and justice. Social coercion is coercion enough – particularly when backed by a daily ritual that says nothing less than that, “those not ‘under God’ are as bad as those who are for rebellion, tyranny, and injustice.”
It is no wonder that so many Americans hold atheists in such low esteem. As children, the one message they were exposed to more often and with more repetition and diligence was the message that atheists are to be looked down on – condemned, as one would condemn those who support rebellion, tyranny, and injustice.
Yes, the argument is that easy.
The Show Trial
Imagine that you are on trial for theft. While you sit at the defense table, the prosecution lays out its case.
At time T0, there was $100 in the drawer.
At time T1, the manager took out $25 to cover expenses.
At time T2, there was only $75 in the drawer.
From time T0 to T2, you were the only person who had access to the drawer.
From which it is obvious that you must have stolen the $50 out of the drawer.
When your defense attorney protests, “What $50? There wasn’t any money missing from the drawer,” the Judge rules your attorney out of order and insists that the public has the right to know what happened to the$50. While you look over, the members of the jury nod in agreement with the judge.
At this point, you may want to ask yourself why they are saying something that is so absurd. Either they are insane, or they have decided (with a wink and a nod) to assert and accept this absurdity that says that $50 is missing from the drawer. You would be excused for thinking that they have decided to convict you before the trial even started, and that the trial itself is a pretense. It is a very poor pretense – so poor, in fact, that you would be within reason to ask why they would go to so much trouble. However, they have decided to pronounce you guilty in spite of the evidence, and that to convict you they will pretend that the evidence says something it clearly does not say.
The claim that there should have been another $50 in the drawer is no less absurd than the claim that ‘under God’ was not asserted to promote religion – an absurdity made all the more obvious by the fact that ‘indivisible’ was clearly and beyond dispute inserted to promote Union. The person who can sit there and acknowledge that ‘indivisible’ exists in the Pledge to promote union, but ‘under God’ was not meant to promote religion is no different from the person who can sit there and acknowledge that the drawer started with $100 from which $25 was taken, but that the $75 that is left is $50 less than it should have.
I am not talking about some sort of elaborate conspiracy theory, where a group of people got together and draw up an organized plan. Rather, the prosecutor simply asserts that $50 is missing and, with a wink and a nod at the Judge and the jury, they decide to go along with it.
One thing you would be able to say as you sat at your desk is that whatever culture the prosecutor, Judge, and jury belonged to, it was not a culture that put any value on truth or justice. Whatever reasons they have for pretending to hold a trial, they had to know that this was just a pretend trial. There was one clear verdict that a lover of truth and justice would render in this case (that ‘under God’ was inserted in the Pledge to promote religion), and that the people present have no intention or desire to give the verdict that truth and justice would demand.
They are all more than happy to assert and to vote for conviction on the basis that $100 - $25 = $50 less than what should have been in the drawer + $75 that was actually in the drawer.
This describes the moral character of those who are arguing that ‘under God’ is not a violation of the Constitution. To claim that they do not know any better would be to claim that they lack even sufficient intelligence to count as competent adults. To claim that they do know better means that they care nothing about the lies and injustice they perpetuate.
The Culture of Lies
To make matters worse, we must accept the fact that this culture of deception is not some minor subgroup of Americans – like neo-Nazis or the KKK – that lives only on the margin of society and cannot exercise any real power. The culture of deception is a dominant culture, making up a substantial portion of the voting population.
In fact, just as we can say that a culture that so thoroughly embraces violence cannot actually be a culture of peace, we can say that a culture that so thoroughly embraces deception of this is not a culture of truth. Just as the former is a culture of violence, the latter is a culture of deception. Even if there are a few people within the culture who aspire to peace, their pathetically weak position in that culture is still enough to justify branding the culture a culture of violence. Even if there a few people within the culture in America who aspire to truth and justice, their pathetically weak position in that culture is still enough to justify branding the culture a culture of deception.
We will always have a few bigots with no respect for truth, justice, or the rule of law – just as we will always have a few rapists and murderers. However, we should also hope to keep the numbers of rapists and murderers to a minimum, and certainly keep them and their defenders from serving in the legislature and sitting on the bench. Similarly, we should also hope to keep those who practice this culture of deception out of public office and off the bench. Any who cannot admit to the fact that ‘under God’ is intended to promote religion the way ‘indivisible’ is meant to support Union are so clearly willing to lie that . . . well, how can we trust anything that they say?
And why should we want them in these types of jobs?
The Lie Factories
We should expect that a culture that so loves deception and hates truth would have no trouble creating institutions and organizations that specialize in lies.
In a culture that has no particular aversion to murder and rape, we could expect consultants to spring up and go into business telling people how they can literally get away with murder. They go to a crime scene, they tell their clients what to clean up and how to alter the physical evidence, and they even brag about their ability to perform these tasks in their brochures.
This culture that embraces the lie that ‘under God’ was not meant to promote religion has spawned its own industry of professional deceivers – organizations and institutions devoted to helping people cover up obvious crimes and to get judges who will not vote to convict regardless of the evidence on the bench.
These lie factories tell their clients not to use the word ‘religion’ when they propose policies that obviously are meant to promote religion. Their clients are to use the code phrase, ‘patriotism’. It is ‘patriotism’ that we are promoting when we coerce children into pledging allegiance to God. I have no idea what ‘indivisibility’ would be designed to promote under this line of reasoning – but it must be something far removed from ‘Union’.
These lie factories are doing nothing but advising their clients how to break the law and get away with it. They are advising their clients how to hide their footprints, to cover their tracks, to conceal evidence, so that nobody can go to court with enough information to secure a conviction for what is still, in fact, a violation of the law.
Good, honest, law-respecting people do not do things like this. People who respect the law, and those who respect truth and justice, hold a natural contempt for those who have embrace subverting the law through campaigns of deception and sophistry. Those who embrace these campaigns of deception and sophistry, in turn, simply are not good, honest, law-respecting people.
Furthermore, even if we take them at their word, the claim that ‘patriotism’ requires ‘under God’ or ‘in God we trust’ is the same as saying that patriotism requires religion or a belief in God. This is, of course, denigrating and degrading to those patriots who do not believe in God. It is, then, our national motto and our national pledge to denigrate and degrade any who should be a patriot who is not ‘under God’ and who does not ‘trust in God’.
Unlike the show trial that I used at the start of this essay, only some judges and members of the jury are nodding their head in agreement to, $100 - $25 = $125. There is still a segment of the population who is willing to base their decisions on what the facts, and to try to reach a just conclusion.
Those people should be able to see the simplicity of the argument. The absurdity of saying that ‘under God’ was not put into the Pledge to promote religion is no less than the absurdity of saying that ‘indivisible’ was not inserted into the pledge to promote Union, or that ‘with liberty and justice for all’ was not inserted to promote liberty and justice for all. This is all the argument that is needed because it makes the conclusion as obvious as $100 - $25 = $75.
A conclusion that no honest person worthy of respect can deny.