When Nation Was Deified And God Was Nationalized

The Pledge of Allegiance was written by Francis Bellamy. That was in 1892. Then, in 1941, Congress officially made it into the pledge. There was no ‘God’ in the wording for 64 years of its existence and for the first 13 years of its official use.

The Man Who Wrote the Pledge of Allegiance
By Jeffrey Owen Jones
Smithsonian Magazine

“I first struggled with “under God” in my fourth-grade class in Westport, Connecticut. It was the spring of 1954, and Congress had voted, after some controversy, to insert the phrase into the Pledge of Allegiance, partly as a cold war rejoinder to “godless” communism. We kept stumbling on the words—it’s not easy to unlearn something as ingrained and metrical as the Pledge of Allegiance—while we rehearsed for Flag Day, June 14, when the revision would take effect.”

That wasn’t that long ago. It was about 20 years before I was born. My father was 12 years old and my mother was 7 years old when God was added to the Pledge of Allegiance.

I asked my father about it. He says he remembers when he had to learn the new wording. It was in Boy Scouts when he was in 6th grade.

The Scout leader told them that it was “One nation under God” with no comma and so he explained they weren’t to pause between “One nation” and “under God”. I suppose the implication was that nation and God were to be treated as a single entity. But my father notes that everyone pauses between the two, and so apparently most Americans came to disagree with that scout leader.

As for the issue of adding God, many diverse Americans have disagreed about ending the clear separation of church and state, as the founding fathers intended (for those who genuinely care about original intent):

“Atheists are not the only ones to take issue with that line of thought. Advocates of religious tolerance point out that the reference to a single deity might not sit well with followers of some established religions. After all, Buddhists don’t conceive of God as a single discrete entity, Zoroastrians believe in two deities and Hindus believe in many. Both the Ninth Circuit ruling and a number of Supreme Court decisions acknowledge this. But Jacobsohn predicts that a majority of the justices will hold that government may support religion in general as long as public policy does not pursue an obviously sectarian, specific religious purpose.

“Bellamy, who went on to become an advertising executive, wrote extensively about the pledge in later years. I haven’t found any evidence in the historical record—including Bellamy’s papers at the University of Rochester—to indicate whether he ever considered adding a divine reference to the pledge. So we can’t know where he would stand in today’s dispute. But it’s ironic that the debate centers on a reference to God that an ordained minister left out. And we can be sure that Bellamy, if he was like most writers, would have balked at anyone tinkering with his prose.”

What the media too often ignores is the major divides in our society aren’t between conservatives and fundamentalists on one side and secularists and atheists on the other side. No, the deepest cut in public opinion happens within religion itself. Most Americans on all issues are Christians. It was originally Evangelicals who pushed strongly for a strong separation of church and state, for they understood in their own experience the dangers of that lack of such a separation. It’s a shame that Christians on the political right have such a short historical memory.

National Day of Prayer Unconstitutional

ProfMTH — April 30, 2010 — A look at the recent decision that declared the federal law establish the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional.

Links:

1. Freedom from Religion Foundation, et al. v. Obama and Gibbs http://www.wiwd.uscourts.gov/assets/p…

2. The National Day of Prayer Task Forces website http://nationaldayofprayer.org/

3. Federalist #78 http://www.constitution.org/fed/feder…

 
ProfMTH — April 30, 2010 — The second part of my look at the recent decision that declared the federal law establishing the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional.

Links:

1. Freedom from Religion Foundation, et al. v. Obama and Gibbs http://www.wiwd.uscourts.gov/assets/p…

2. Lemon v. Kurtzman http://scholar.google.com/scholar_cas…

3. Christian activist Tony Perkins talking about the National Day of Prayer (from JesusSavesAtCitibanks channel here on YouTube) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0Vqd6…

4. Engel v. Vitale http://scholar.google.com/scholar_cas…

5. Marsh v. Chambers http://scholar.google.com/scholar_cas…

6. Walz v. Tax Commission of the City of New York http://scholar.google.com/scholar_cas…

Obama the Anti-Christ Muslim promotes National Day of Prayer

National Day of Prayer Deemed Unconstitutional, but Obama Will Recognize it Anyway 

Yesterday, a U.S. District Judge in Wisconsin ruled that the annual National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional.

“It goes beyond mere ‘acknowledgment’ of religion because its sole purpose is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function in this context,” wrote Judge Barbara Crabb, who said the Day of Prayer violates the First Amendment’s establishment clause, which bans the creation of a “law respecting an establishment of religion” in the Constitution.

I’m glad to hear this.

Some Christians argue that advocating prayer doesn’t advocate any particular religion and therefore it’s fine. The atheists and agnostics are rightly frustrated by this argument that dismisses them (16% of the population) as having any significance, but many others have reason to take offense.

Not all religions are theistic. For many Buddhists, prayer has nothing to do with their religious practice. Why not force a day of meditation on all of the theists? And, for the atheists and agnostics, why not have a day of questioning and denying God’s existence?

There is one further issue that this news report clarifies. Fox News and Tea Party protesters may call Obama all kinds of names, but there are two labels that can’t be honestly applied to Obama: Liberal and Progressive. He has continued all the same policies as Bush, and he has passed a health reform bill that ultimately helps insurance companies more than the average American. Bush was a corporatist. Obama is a corporatist. And Christianity is the religion favored by corporatist presidents. Christianity and patriotism. The tools used by corporatism to keep Americans in line. Interestingly, the Tea Party (which is funded and promoted by corporations) uses Christianity and patriotism to attack everyone they disagree with.

I wonder:
How many of the Teabaggers who have called Obama a Muslim will be praying on the National Day of Prayer?
How many of the Fundamentalists who claim to believe Obama is the Anti-Christ will be praying on the National Day of Prayer?

1984 Meets the Age of O’Reilly

1984 Meets the Age of O’Reilly

by Eric Michael Johnson

This, of course, refers to the famous remarks (almost four days old now) in which Richard Dawkins’ suggestion that there be a separation of church and state in public schools was shouted down by O’Reilly’s claim that he was imposing fascism.


Poor Winston Smith. When Orwell wrote his novel there was only a three minute hate. Now FOXNews runs 24 hours a day.
Watch the full “interview” here.