In the near future, the 9th Circuit Court opinion giving its decision on ‘under God’ and ‘In God We Trust’.
And, a reminder, when the story break, I will begin tracking developments as they happen in my other blog, Atheist Ethicist Journal.
The purpose of the Pledge Project is to introduce a set of arguments against 'under God' in the Pledge and 'In God We Trust' as the national motto that have been missing for the past 50 years – arguments other than the legal arguments we are all familiar with.
I have written a series of essays on the subject in this blog. (You can find a list of these essays at The Pledge Project: Table of Contents) Unfortunately, you will almost never have the opportunity to deliver a 15-minute speech or present a 1500 word essay on the immoral qualities of these practices.
All too often, you will have to make your point in 15 seconds or less – and even that might be generous.
Consequently, this post is dedicated to sound bytes – quick statements that deliver some of these missing moral considerations in a sentence or two that can be quickly thrown into a discussion.
'Under God' has never been about allowing God into the public square. It has always been about keeping atheists out of public office..
If you are given an opportunity to explain yourself you can start to bring out points from the 1500 word essay. 'Under God' was introduced in the 1950s to put atheist communists at a political disadvantage, but targeted all atheists. This sound byte has opened the door to that discussion. Yet, even if the recipient of the sound byte hears nothing else, she has heard something she had not heard before, and something for her to think about.
Here are some other sound bytes. Many of these are variations on a theme. The context in which the statement is used will determine which variation has the most relevance.
It is no more legitimate for the government to post a sign that says "We Trust in God" than it is to post a sign that says, "We Are A White Community,” or "We Are Not Jews".
If 'under God' is consistent with respect for people who do not believe in God, then 'with liberty and justice for all' is consistent with respect for tyranny and injustice.
This is how you intend to show respect for soldiers who do not believe in God, by saying that they are as bad as those who defend tyranny and injustice?
By adding 'under God' to the Pledge of Allegiance the government put atheism in the company of rebellion, tyranny, and injustice as the great evils that no patriotic American can accept and every patriotic American would oppose.
There is no better way to teach children that atheists cannot be patriots than to have a ritual of pledging allegiance from which atheists are conspicuously excluded.
To say that the Pledge of Allegiance is a patriotic exercise is to say that atheists cannot be patriots.
What's wrong with a pledge that shows respect for ALL OF THOSE who have fought for our freedom? What is right with a Pledge that compares some of those who defend our rights to the defenders of tyranny and injustice?
If you want to bring God into the public square, then do what the founding fathers did in writing the Constitution. They wrote an oath of office that did not mention God, allowing each individual to decide to add a phrase like, "so help me God" according to his or her private belief.
A good Christian would reject a sign the says "We Trust In God" for the same reasons a good Caucasian would reject a sign that says, "We Are a White Community."
Atheism is like race in that neither necessarily implies a lack of patriotism or moral character – and it is pure bigotry to assume otherwise.
The right to freedom of speech does not imply a right to freedom from criticism. Even the Nazi and the KKK member has a right to freedom of speech.
Psychologically segregating the nation between 'we' who 'trust in God' and 'they' who do not is as immoral as physically segregating the nation between 'we' who are white and 'they' who are colored.
Protesting 'under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance is anti-Christian in the same way that protesting segregation was anti-white or respecting the rights of women to vote was anti-male.
Moral chauvinism is the state of believing that the people who share your religion are inherently morally superior to those who do not.
There are as many ways to mention God in the public square that do not express bigotry as there are to mention race in the public square that are not bigoted. This is not one of them.
If you compare a sign on the currency or in public office that discriminate on the basis of religion with signs that discriminate on the basis of race, somebody will likely accuse you of equating religion with racism.
I am not equating religion with racism. I am equating signs and oaths that teach religious prejudice with signs and oaths that teach racial prejudice.
If a person denies that 'under God' or 'In God We Trust' denigrates the patriotism and moral character of those who do not believe in God, demand that they prove that they believe this.
I demand that the legislative body pass a resolution condemning any statement that explicitly or implicitly denigrates the patriotism or moral character of an American citizen based solely on the fact that the citizen does not believe that there is a God to trust or for the nation to be under.
I have given some of my ideas for sound bytes that might be useful. However, I might be suffering from a serious lack of imagination. I would like you, the reader, to think about this and come up with a few more.
I have some caveats.
I an looking for sound bytes that express moral concerns that have been missing over the last 50 years.
I am not looking for sound bytes that trash religion. This is not about being opposed to religion. This is about being opposed to injustice. As I wrote above – a Christian can oppose the psychological and social segregation of atheists in the same way that a Caucasian can oppose the physical segregation of blacks. It is not appropriate to answer anti-atheist bigotry with anti-theist bigotry; that would just make us hypocrites.
With these facts in mind, and with 33 essays from The Pledge Project at your fingertips, along with your own experiences, I would like to know what type of sound bytes you can provide to help arm those who will be debating 'under God' and 'In God We Trust' once the story breaks.
Sometime between now and June 30th, we will all have an opportunity to put those suggestions to work.