Tuesday, September 20, 2005

One Nation, Under God

When I first read about Michael Nedow's lawsuit claiming that the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance violated the Establishment of Religion Clause in the Bill of Rights, I thought he was another left-wing looney.

He is, but that doesn't make him entirely wrong.

I searched Google for a history of the Pledge of Allegiance. The original Pledge was written by Francis Bellamy, a Christian Socialist. According to Dr. John W. Baer, Bellamy's original pledge read as follows: " 'I pledge allegiance to my Flag and (to*) the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.' He considered placing the word, 'equality,' in his Pledge, but knew that the state superintendents of education on his committee were against equality for women and African Americans. [ * 'to' added in October, 1892. ]"

The words "under God" were added in 1954 after a campaign by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization.

The phrase "under God" is younger than I am!

Still, there is going to be a tempest in a teapot over the Ninth Circuit Court's ruling. Some Christians are going to see this as further evidence of the moral decay of America. Some left-wing looneys are going to celebrate it as another slap in the face of "fundys" and President Bush. People who currently don't say The Pledge at all, such as Jehovah's Witnesses, are going to wonder what all the fuss is about.

Darleen, over at Darleen's Place, has an article up about this issue and quite a discussion going on in her comments section. One poster has written that the phrase "under God" refers only to the God of the religions of the Levant, i.e., Judaic, Christian, and Muslim. For this reason alone the phrase can be construed as endorsing a specific religion or, rather a type of God specific to a certain religion.

However, Darleen makes the point, a perfectly legitimate one IMHO, that the foundation of our governmental system is derived from Judeo-Christian values and traditions. The Founding Fathers (and the Founding Mothers) believed their rights came from this God and not "the uncreated uncreating" found in other, mostly Eastern, religions.

My brain is having a difficult time understanding the concept of an "uncreated uncreating," but I'm sure that's just me.

Dennis Prager has written a series of articles for Townhall discussing the importance of Judeo-Christian values in society an in the American form of government that are thorough and thoughtful and make the case rather well that these values are what make America and Americans unique in the world.

Our pluralistic society works because we accept the common values espoused in Judeo-Christian traditions. Our conflict with Islam is based, in large part, on the conflicts between their traditions and ours.

Darleen argues that the phrase "under God" reminds us that our rights derive not merely from the government (other humans), but from a source greater than that--our Creator. This philosophy is what truly distinguishes the U.S. from other countries, where the source citizens' rights is found solely on those in power.

Is it possible to acknowledge what the Founders themselves acknowleged as the source of our rights without offending those who do not believe in the God of the Levant? And how would one do that?