Friday, September 16, 2005

Moral Argument against 'under God'

Anybody who believes that 'under God' was not meant to denigrate citizens not sharing certain religious views, also has to believe that 'with liberty and justice for all' was not meant to denigrate those who would defend tyranny and injustice.


At the start, I would like to make two points.

1. Morality vs. Law

First, I would like to stress that blog is concerned with morality, not law. An institution (such as slavery before 1865) can be immoral at the same time that it is constitutional.

As a result, I am not going to argue whether having 'under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance is constitutional. Instead, I am concerned with whether a person of good moral character could support having such a pledge. I am going to show such a person could not offer their support. If it is constitutional to do so, it is merely another example of a contitutionally permitted injustice.

2. Tactics in the Church/State Separation War

Second, I want to comment about the tactics that individuals who favor church-state separation have been using over the last few decades.

Church-state separation is not a popular doctrine to defend. Many who do so become the targets of a great deal of anger and abuse.

To save themselves from this abuse, some defenders have been hiding behind judges robes, presenting a legal case to the judge against these forms of discrimination, but refusing to present a moral case to the people. They wait for the judges to give a decision, then hide while the public vents its anger.

Now, the angry mob of church-state unificationists are taking out the judges. This is no accident; it is the result of a deliberate campaign to replace each separationist judge with a unificationist judge as the opportunity allows. By popular demand, they are gaining the power to interpret, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," to mean "Congress shall not get in the way as theocrats turn the United States into the Christian equivalent of Afghanistan under the Taliban."

People who have grown accustomed to an army of separationists judges working to defend them from the theocrats outside of the wall, are waking up to discover that those theocrats are on the wall, and what has once been a fort is being turned into a prison.

It is time to address the immorality of some of these policies.

Moral Principles

If any government official were to stand up and say, for example, "Jews are despicable enemies of what is truly American, even though they do no wrong, and even though they break no just laws, purely because they do not share our beliefs," morally decent people would be outraged, as they should be.

Decent people will have the same reaction to any neighbor who supports such an official. That neighbor clearly does not understand the moral obligation of a government to give its peaceful law-abiding citizens equal respect and consideration.

Yet, anybody who says thet Pledge of Allegiance with the words 'under God' included as they are is making this same type of morally repulsive claim.

The Pledge states that we are one nation with liberty. Including 'liberty' in the Pledge says that liberty is good, and that any who promote tyranny are despicable enemies of what is truly American.

The Pledge states that we are one nation with justice for all. Including 'justice' in the Pledge says that justice is good, and that any who promote injustice are despicable enemies of what is truly American.

The Pledge states that we are one nation indivisible. Frances Bellamy created the Pledge in the late 1800s specifically to deal with the scars of the Civil War, and to unite the nation. His reason for including the word 'indivisible' was to communicate the idea that America was to remain one country, and that those who would seek to divide it are to be considered enemies of what is truly American.

When Congress added 'under God' to the Pledge during the McCarthy era, it was meant to convey the same message. Our nation's enemy then was the (godless) communists. Including 'under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance was Congress's way of telling people that a good American must believe in God, and that those who do not believe in God are unAmerican. The godless (or, actually, if we were being honest, the non-Christian) are people to be viewed with suspicion and distrust.

By adding these words, the government created a situation where peaceful law-abiding citizens are forced to endure a situation where their government calls them the moral equivalent of tyrants and perpetrators of injustice. To participate in public life, they are forced to endure these rituals. However, the greatest wrong rests in the fact that the government forces their children to sit in attendance while the school leads their friends in a daily pledge to regard those who are not 'under God' in the same light as those who promote tyranny and injustice.

No decent human being would allow a government to force its peaceful law-abiding citizens or their children to endure this daily public ridicule and humiliation.

“Under God” Is “Merely an Expression of Faith”

Some seeking to defend the Pledge argue that it simply asserts the speaker's belief in God and is not meant to ridicule or humiliate people with different beliefs. They say that rewriting the Pledge is like passing a law to punish people for merely saying that they are Christian.

I doubt that a more absurd statement has ever crossed human lips.

If 'under God' was not meant to promote Christianity and to hold other views in contempt, then it seems that 'indivisible', and 'with liberty and justice for all' were not meant to promote unity and to hold separatism, tyranny, and injustice in contempt.

Imagine a politician standing before a crowd and saying, "These words, 'with liberty and justice for all', are merely an expression of our heritage. They are not meant to actually promote liberty and justice. They are perfectly compatible with the defenders of tyranny and injustice being just as good Americans as those who say the Pledge. And it is simply absurd to claim that we have children recite these words as a way of encouraging them to adopt the values of liberty and justice and to reject tyranny and injustice."

It is a matter of historical record that Francis Bellamy included the word ‘indivisible’ specifically to promote the Union and to discourage children from adopting the separatist values that contributed to the Civil War.

The person who denies that ‘under God’ is meant to endorse monotheism and to hold alternatives in contempt, and particularly to entice children to favor monotheism over other views, is entitled to the same ridicule and contempt that we would offer the person who said that the Pledge was not meant to support Union, liberty, and Justice and to hold contrary views in contempt.

Morally Expressing Faith

The moral objection against the Pledge as written is not an objection to people asserting their belief in God. Those who wish to do so can use the same option that George Washington used when he was sworn in as President. Washington voluntarily added the words ‘so help me God’ to the end of what was written into the Constitution as a godless oath. In doing so, he expressed his own beliefs without denigrating or showing contempt for any alternative view. It is a perfectly legitimate way for a government official to express his faith.

“I pledge allegiance . . . so help me God,” is also a perfectly legitimate way for somebody to express their faith. It raises no moral flags. The person who says this is not saying that those who believe otherwise are unAmerican in the same way that those who defend tyranny and injustice are unAmerican. He simply, honestly, expresses his own beliefs.

The morally decent person would find this option acceptable. The morally contemptable person would reject this option in favor of a national policy of daily rituals to treat their peaceful, law-abiding neighbors with contempt.

No comments: