We are three weeks away from the one year anniversary of oral arguments on “Under God” and “In God We Trust” in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The judges cannot withhold that decision forever. It has to be coming out soon.
I suspect that the Court will argue that a school ritual of pledging allegiance to a nation 'under God' is unconstitutional. However, regardless of what the Court decides, it will spark debate on the issue.
Politicians will side with the theists on this – they are not going to dare disagree with the voters. The press is not going to dare to suggest to their viewers and readers that their views are mistaken. So, it is up to us to say something, if anything is to be said at all.
Last week, I gave a list of suggestions. One of those suggestions was to prepare a guest editorial on the subject that you can send to a local paper. Chances are, if you do not send anything to a local paper, nobody will. The press, with an interest in the appearance of objectivity, given an opportunity to print "the other side of the story" without endorsing that view, will likely have reason to print such a letter.
I have prepared my letter, and this is it:
Today, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals declared that a pledge of allegiance to a nation under God and a national motto promoting trust in God violated the Constitutional prohibition on government promoting religion.
They actually do more than that. They are instruments for teaching bigotry, particularly to young children, who learn their bigotry at a base and emotional level that quickly becomes highly resistant to reason.
The Pledge says that supporting a nation under God is as important – as American – as supporting a nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. In doing so, it equates atheism with rebellion, tyranny, and injustice. The national motto simply says, "If you don't trust in God, you are not one of us."
Those who promote these rituals promote them most heavily where they can be used to teach their lessons in bigotry to children – in public schools and civic events where children participate and attend.
This bigotry then finds its expression in such things as:
President Bush's claim that no atheist is fit to be a federal judge. "We need common-sense judges who understand that our rights were derived from God. Those are the kinds of judges I intend to put on the bench." (July, 2002)
A special election to remove David Habecker from his position as Trustee in Estes Park, Colorado, for refusing to say the Pledge. (2004) A veteran’s day ceremony that my father attended. My father, retired Tech Sergeant William L. Fyfe, who became 100% disabled as a result of injuries sustained when the military transport he was flying in crashed, listened while somebody read over the loud speaker a statement that all Americans who did not trust in God should "take advantage of one other great American freedoms, the right to leave." And the crowd cheered.
Illinois Representative Monique Davis's (Democrat) rant to an atheist offering testimony to a committee she was on that, "[I]t's dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists! You have no right to be here! We believe in something. You believe in destroying! You believe in destroying what this state was built upon." (April, 2008)
The standing ovation that Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney (Republican) received when he said, "The nation does need to have people of different faiths but we need to have a person of faith to run the nation." (Feb, 2008)
In New Hampshire Representative Laura Pantelakos’ (Democrat) statement "I'm very upset that anyone would not want to do the pledge. If you live in this country you should do the pledge." (May, 2008)
In Senator Elizabeth Dole's (Republican) campaign ad attacking her opponent for attending a dinner where at the home of a godless American. (Oct. 2008)
In Senate candidate Kay Hagan's (Democrat) response that accusing somebody of atheism is such a slander that the perpetrator deserves to be taken to court.(Oct. 2008)
In the constant barrage of claims that equate atheism with immorality.
In poll after poll where a majority of the responders say that they would not vote for an atheist for public office, not want their child to marry an atheist, and who consider atheists to be the most un-American group in the country.
This bigotry begins with a government program to teach bigotry to young children. It is a program that involves having children to put atheism in the same category with rebellion, tyranny, and injustice. It is a lesson that puts a sign on the money and, in many places now, in classrooms and government buildings that says, “Those who do not trust in God are not one of us.”
This is my 600 word essay that I am ready to send out the instant that I hear news of the court’s decision. I may need to rewrite the first paragraph, but that will not take much work.
I wrote a number of posts on this subject a while back. (See: The Pledge Project: Table of Contents) Those posts cover arguments as varied as the claim that the Pledge is a patriotic exercise (one that equates patriotism with belief in God), to the idea that these rituals are mere ceremonial deism (as if the Marine motto simper fidelis is merely ceremonial), to the idea that the function, and the intent, of this legislation is to keep atheists out of public office – to reserve the seats of political power to those who believe in God and to exclude all others.
So, I encourage you, take the time today to write your letter and decide where you are going to send it so that, once the news breaks and this becomes the national topic of the day, you will waste no time contributing to the public debate.