June 29, 2002
Thoughts on the Pledge

Something struck me while sifting through the electronic equivalent of reams of paper expended on the whole Pledge of Allegiance thing. Almost all of the opponents of the "Under God" phrase ask how the supporters would feel about substituting any number of other deities, usually leading off with "Allah".

I cannot speak for anyone else, but "Allah", "God", and "Yahweh" or "Jehovah" are ALL THE SAME GOD. Different languages have different words to express the same concept, and this is no different. Christianity takes the "Yahweh" of the Jews, and adds the concept of him returning to Earth in human form. Islam recognizes the same Jesus as a prophet of "Allah", while Mohammed is their spiritual leader. Reconciling the beliefs of these three religions (along with the Deist/Unitarian concept of a single God, and some variations on a theme, such as Mormonism) is not at all difficult. I certainly have no problem with the idea.


I am of the belief that the phrase "under God" does not violate the first amendment, as the original lawsuit claims. Even more tenuous is the grounds upon which the lawsuit rests, that the rights of the daughter are violated by having to listen to her classmates recite "under God". Firstly, since nobody is compelled to recite the pledge, there is little coercion involved. I remember several classmates who refused to recite the pledge, and it was a non-issue. If she is teased by her classmates, so be it. She should be willing to stand up for what she believes in, regardless of the consequences. There is no constitutional protection from heckling. By prohibiting the pledge, a chilling effect on free speech occurs (I won't scream censorship, but the effect is similar).


As Jane Galt touched upon in her post on the subject (check the comments), a slippery slope effect is likely to occur now, as any concept that might be rooted in a religious or anti-religious context is likely to be subjected to a lawsuit. An obvious example is scientific theories such as the Big Bang Theory and the Theory of Evolution. History, such as the Crusades, the Colonization of the Americas (many were religious dissidents), the slavery abolition movement, and the current Arab/Israeli conflict might become political footballs in an effort to score political points. Music—should classics such as the "Messiah" or "Ave Maria" be taught, due to the religious background of the pieces? Of course, we can't forget school libraries, which are already a battleground with both the left (advocating banning books such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn due to racist language) and the right (who wish to ban books by Judy Blume, because of a mention of female onanism—look it up—in Deenie and some theological doubts in Are you there, God? It's me, Margaret) attempting to control the contents of the libraries. The ruling handed down by the Ninth Circuit Court is only going to intensify efforts on both sides, and the swift and overwhelming response by the Senate (with their 99-0 vote to oppose the ruling) is likely to cause a backlash the plaintiff neither anticipated nor desires.

(30 June/12:45—Edited to foil search engine perverts)

posted on June 29, 2002 02:22 PM


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