Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Pledge Project: Table of Contents

In the near future, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals gives its decision on “under God” and “In God We Trust”, This is one post that I must make available before that happens.

I have written this series of essays for you to use as a reference when they go out amongst the people and debate the issue. You’re going to need a way to easily get to the post that covers the issue you may be debating at any particular time. So, I want to provide this directory to Pledge Project articles.

1. Acting Against Anti-Atheist Bigotry: The introduction to the Pledge Project arguing that 'under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance and "In God We Trust" as the national motto serve as a nearly impenetrable barrier keeping atheists and others who cannot pledge allegiance to ‘one nation under God’ out of public office.

2. The Atheist Burka: Compares the way atheists view the Pledge of Allegiance and National Motto in this country with the way women view the Burka in fundamentalist Islam cultures. By indoctrinating us starting when we were too young to question what we were being told, society has indoctrinated us into being comfortable with our own victimization.

3. Priorities: The Pledge Project is important because there are children who are (or will become) atheists who may also want to be elected officials or judges, serve in the military and be recognized for the quality of their actions, or just simply live among neighbors who have not been told by their government that no atheist can be a patriot and only those who ‘trust in God’ are to be thought of as ‘one of us’.

4. Offense: This answers the claim that others will make that atheists are merely ‘offended by every mention of God in the public square’. It proves that ‘under God’ in the Pledge and ‘In God We Trust’ as the national motto are not about mentioning God in the public square, but about officially denouncing atheism. It presents an alternative way to mention God in the public square that does not denounce atheism.

5. House Resolution 5872: HR5872 is a government act to help raise money for the Boy Scouts. As such, it is a government act to help raise money to teach children that atheists are incapable of the best type o citizenship. It is as immoral as having the government itself hire a group of tutors to go to young children and teach them, “Citizens who do not believe in God are incapable of the best type of citizenship.”

6. Explaining Bigotry: This post uses a 2006 survey that showed that Americans identify atheists as the group that least shares their values as Americans, and the group that they would least like their children to marry (the sociologist’s best measure of prejudice). These results are easy to explain given that the Pledge of Allegiance says that American values include support for ‘one nation under God’ (which atheists do not share). This attitude is exactly the attitude that the government teaches people to have when it posts signs that say, “Do not think of those who lack trust in God as being one of us.”

7. Atheists are Untrustworty: Ron Lowe, an Mason in Idaho, explained in a news article that atheists are not allowed to be Masons because, "If you're an atheist . . . your word means nothing, so you have someone whose work cannot be trusted."

8. In God We Trust – America: In God We Trust – America is a group that is dedicated to having the national motto, "In God We Trust", posted in every government building and, in particular, in every city council.

9. Resolution Respecting Atheists: If you try to argue that the Pledge and Motto promote prejudice against atheists, some people are going to deny that it has this implication. This argues for having them prove this by supporting a resolution that any government agency can pass that condemns “any statement that explicitly or implicitly calls into question a person’s patriotism or moral character based solely on a lack of trust in God, or lack of support for ‘one nation under God’”.

10. A Memorial Day Dilemma: My father was one of those ‘atheists in foxholes’ who sought to make a career out of defending America and its freedoms. Yet, when the government introduced ‘under God’ into the Pledge it said that it does not care about the service of those who do not believe in God. My father argued that, when a person joins the military, he should be pledging allegiance to his country, not his church.

11. The Case of David Habecker: David Habecker was a city trustee in Estes Park, Colorado, who was recalled in a special election because he would not say the Pledge of Allegiance.

12. Sit Down and Shut Up: An advertisement from a Ford dealership in California said that those who oppose 'under God' in the Pledge and "In God We Trust' as the national motto should sit down and shut up.

13. Respect in Minnesota: A Minnesota school board is debating a rule that requires students to stand during the pledge “because all students should be required to show respect to the flag”. But why should a student show respect for the claim that 'Americans who do not support 'one nation under God' are as bad as those who do not support 'liberty and justice for all'?

14. Freedom of Speech: Some people will defend their right to have ‘under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance or to post ‘In God We Trust’ as implied by the right to freedom of speech. This post argues that 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. That right to freedom of speech includes the right to condemn what they say.

15. Apologies and Excuses: This post looks at the distinction between an apology and an excuse. It teaches how to recognize when somebody is apologizing for doing something wrong or merely offering an excuse for his behavior, and explains what we will find in a true apology for wrings committed against atheists (and others).

16. Three Related Stories: This post covers three news stories related to the Pledge Project: Philadelphia ending a subsidy for the Boy Scouts, a Zoning Board commissioner in New Hampshire who is refusing to say the Pledge, and a city trustee in Wisconsin who is refusing to say the pledge. It looks at the types of claims being made in these disputes.

17. A Military Response: When somebody defends the Pledge of Allegiance as a way of showing respect for those who fought for our freedoms, this post explains why somebody shows more respect for ALL OF THOSE who fought for our freedoms by refusing to say the Pledge. After all, some of those who fought for our freedoms did not believe in God, and we spit on their graves when we pledge to put them in the same category as those who support rebellion, tyranny, and injustice for all.

18. A Patriotic Exercise. If somebody argues that the Pledge is permissible because it is a patriotic exercise, ask them if it would be less patriotic if ‘under God’ were removed? If they say ‘yes’, then the words ‘under God’ cannot be defended in virtue of patriotism. IF they say ‘no’ then they are guilty of asserting that atheists cannot be patriots.

19. Why? I was asked why I was putting so much effort into this project. This post answers that question.

20. Prayers and Promises: The standard debate over ‘under God’ in the pledge is between one group who says that it is a prayer (and thus constitutionally prohibited), while another says that it is like reading the Declaration of Independence or singing a patriotic song, which is permissible. Both sides ignore the fact that a Pledge is a promise and, unlike any prayer or reading, puts the speaker under an obligation. In this case, we are talking about a government sponsored promise to put the nation ‘under God’.

21. Should There Be a Pledge? Some argue that it is wrong to have any pledge. However, the question of whether or not we have reason to promote a pledge depends on the effects of a pledge. If a pledge to liberty and justice for all actually promotes liberty and justice for all, then we have reason to support such a pledge.

22. Liberty and Justice for All. Some people refuse to say the words ‘liberty and justice for all’ in the Pledge because they note that we do not have liberty and justice for all. They miss the fact that the Pledge is not a description of what kind of nation we are. It is a prescription for what type of country we should strive to be. However, this further implies that ‘one nation under God’ is also a prescription. In other word, the government is recommending ‘one nation under God’ in the same way it is recommending liberty and justice for all.

23. Moral Chauvinism. One of the worst qualities that we find in most religions is a tendency to turn its member into moral chauvinists. “Those who belong to my church are morally superior to those who do not.” Moral chauvinism is a form of bigotry. We see this bigotry in action whenever anybody claims that failure to indoctrinate children into their religion leads to moral degeneration.

24. An Endorsement of Religious Beliefs. One Constitutional claim is that the government must not endorse a religious belief. In light of this, some people claim that the Pledge is not an endorsement of religious beliefs. Yet, this is as absurd as saying that the Pledge is not an endorsement of union or of liberty and justice for all.

25. Political Consequences. McCain is going to use the Pledge ruling (if it goes against ‘under God’ to solicit million of hours in volunteer labor and tens of million of dollars in cash from those who want to see conservative justices on the bench that will defend religious bigotry. Obama dares not challenge religious bigotry because this would throw the election to McCain. The only defense that will come to the 9th Circuit Court opinion if it is against ‘under God’ must come from us.

26. Audience Participation. This post is a request for readers to join me on the companion blog Atheist Ethicist Journal when the news breaks to organize a response to the arguments that will certainly be made in favor of ‘under God’ and ‘In God We Trust’.

27. The Voluntary Argument. Some people will assert that no violation takes place by having ‘under God’ in the Pledge because saying it is voluntary. This posts asks the question, “If a community adopts a pledge of allegiance to ‘our white community’ will the fact that they did not require people to say it prove that it was not racist?”

28. Flag Burning: This post look at the distinction between respect for a symbol and a respect for the thing symbolized. It notes how those who are most interested in protecting the symbol of liberty and justice for all seem least interested in defending liberty and justice for all.

29. The Race Analogy. My arguments draw heavily on analogies to race. For example, I argue that it is as illegitimate for the government to post a sign that says, “We Trust in God” as it would be for the government to post a sign that says, “We Are a White Community.” This post defends the race analogy and explains exactly why it is sound.

30. Legitimate Response. This post compares the atheist response to anti-atheist bigotry to the response that blacks and Jews might give to racism and anti-Semitism. It argues that the only consistent position to hold is that atheists are entitled to react to a sign that says, “We Trust in God” the same way that black would be entitled to react to a sign that says, “We Are a White Community.”

31. The Guantanamo Ruling: Four judges on the Supreme Court argue that the judiciary should yield to the legislature because the legislature is tied to the will of the people. How does this argument stand up to a case where the legislature adopts a policy that aims to deny a segment of the population a political voice and make itself accountable to only a portion of the population?

32. Foreign Affairs. In this post I address foreign readers to explain that they have reason to oppose violation of the principle of fair treatment by one’ government wherever thoe violations occur. I also argue that the American political system puts them at risk of being the victims o American religious exports using resources that religious groups are able to get hold of in this country.

33. Sound Bytes: This post presents some of the arguments that have appeared in the previous essays in the form of relatively quick sound bytes. Sound bytes are necessary for making a point quickly and effectively.

Of course, I must also include the first part of my story, A Perspective on the Pledge.


Anonymous said...

Hi Alonzo,
Your dedication in your pursuit of this cause is much admired by this quarter. As the only one who "posted" a comment on the "international" implications of the United States continuing to impose not only its economic formula, but also its political and "religious" formuli on the rest of the world, I have to wonder if "US Atheists" are really the source of a solution. I witness my country succumbing to the "fundie" movements. This has followed the US using its economic (NAFTA) formula and its political muscle (AVRO) on Canada. I am inclined to conclude that American Atheists are only focused on the US approach to atheists and their own "comfort level, while they fail to recognize that a pervasive control of the world has managed to enlist their "silence". It is difficult to comprehend why your "scholarism" is flying under the atheist radar in the US.

How much hope is there for the world if the US approach is spreading throughout the world like a virus.

Yes, the US is responsible for many good things but I would be inclined to say that most Americans, Christian and Atheist alike, let "US economic success" enjoy a priority over any concern for global costs, or other "values" or interpretations of "morality". It has been said that "Morality is the prejudice of the powerful" and the US is certainly using its power to impose its morality.

Remember, the rest of the world was watching US democracy at work when George Bush was elected President. Are we to be subjected to an identical implentation of democracy? If so, what chance do the Atheists of the world have?

Yvette said...

You have my full support!

Rose said...

Thank you so much for all your work. Simply put, you rock!