Thursday | June 27, 2002
More on the Pledge
Much of the arguments against the court decision invalidating "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance can be broken down to: 1) How can you ban the pledge, especially during war?, and 2) there is no separation between church and state. Just look at the Declaration of Independence!
First of, the appeal court's decision did not ban the pledge. It simply requires that the words "under God" be ommitted. Those words weren't even in the original version of the pledge, and were simply added by Eisenhower in a politically motivated move. The Pledge is no less effective in declaring allegiance to the flag without those words.
As for the Declaration of Independence, it is not a legal document or law. It was an appeal to revolution from the colonial rebels. As such, it was ladden with emotional appeals to (at the time) radical notions of human rights. Most of the framers of the delcaration were not Christian, they were Deists. But they framed the declaration with religiosity in order to rally the people around their cause. Once the nation was established, neither the Articles of Confederation nor the Constitution included similar appeals to God. There was no need for it. Those documents were now legal frameworks for the nation, and that framework included language ensuring that the government couldn't establish an official religion nor apply religious litmus tests. Jefferson's subsequent writings simply clarified the clause that he himself had authored (just as courts today will look to the intent of the legislature in interpreting law).
So what the Declaration of Independence says about the "creator" is irrelevant as a matter of law. This decision was the right decision, if coming at an inopportune time. Nothing in this decision prohibits anyone from pledging allegiance to the flag, nor from otherwise being patriotic and loving the nation.
But if this decision leads to a Constitutional Amendment officially erasing the wall between church and state, then it would truly be tragic.