ONE NATION UNDER
28 June 2002
Having been born in 1943, I spent the first 10 years or so of my life living in
"one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
Then Eisenhower decided that we should be one nation under God. Even now, the
words don't roll trippingly off the tongue. I still remember the pledge as it was when I
first learned it.
Even as a child, it seemed strange to me that people who don't believe in God had to
pledge allegiance to a nation under the God they don't believe in.
I do have a belief in a higher power so I can't understand on a visceral level the
difficulty that athiests have with the Pledge of Allegiance as it is currently recited,
but I can attempt to understand it intellectually.
We live in a nation that is proud of its freedoms, and especially its freedom of
religion. It's why those folks were willing to brave the long ocean voyage to the new
world in a rickety wooden boat, to leave behind the religious persecution they were
experiencing in England. They founded a new nation where there would be no religious
persecution, where they could feel free to live their lives without government
Presumably, this also meant freedom to have no religion. Freedom to believe in no
So it's not surprising that those who have no belief find it offensive to be considered
unpatriotic if they do not recite the Pledge of Allegiance, or if they point out the
fundamental princple of the separation of Church and State.
Now a panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California has ruled that the Pledge
of Allegiance, with the phrase "under God," violates the Constitutional
separation of church and state. (Our president, always supportive of the people he governs
is reported to have said "California--what do you expect?" classifying us all as
a bunch of radical nuts. Yeah--but we're radical nuts whom he has been elected to
This morning I learned that the man who brought the original suit to court has had to
put his child in a hidden location because he and his family have received death threats.
Excuse me....Death threats? Oh I'm sure that's what's what is in the
spirit of "one nation under God." I'm sure threatening a family because they
don't want to lie about their beliefs is really what God wants of all of us.
I was paying bills for the office this morning and came across this review of
"1984," which was included in our Working
Assets long distance bill:
"...the story of one man's nightmare odyssey through a world ruled by a power
structure that controls not only information but individual thought ahd memory. Today,
half a century after it was written, Orwell's prophetic, haunting tale of conformity and
identity strikes a disturbing cord. We witness firsthand the worst crime we can inflict
upon ourselve and others: the destruction of the truths and freedoms that make us who we
The truths and freedoms that make us who we are, which includes the freedom not
to believe in a diety and the freedom to express distaste at being asked to pledge
allegiance to a being whose existence you do not acknowledge.
One problem for the guy who brought this suit to court originally is that the media is
depicting him as being "against the Pledge of Allegiance," and a lot of the ire
is directed against his obvious lack of patriotism at a time when the country is swept up
in a whirlwind of patriotism.
I've seen him interviewed and he appears to be a very nice man who just happens not to
believe in God and who doesn't feel that he or his family should be forced to profess any
allegiance which implies that the God he does not believe in has a special interest in
Whether I agree with his position or not, it is his right, as a free American citizen
to feel that way. It is his right, as a free American citizen to attempt to use the
judicial system to get legal backing for his position. (Better that than taking an
AK-47 and shooting up an assembly where the Pledge is being recited.) That he should
receive death threats for going public with his beliefs is unconscionable.
The increasing infusion of religion into the politics of this country bothers me a lot.
We are a nation made up of many beliefs, many religions, many viewpoints, and the growing
trend to look askance at anything which is not Christian is very disturbing.
Just the other day, in dialog with a Jewish friend of mine, a rabid conservative
Narrow is the way that leads to eternal life and there are few that go there. Broad is
the way of destruction and there are many that go there. (Paraphrase mine) The bible is
pretty clear that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.
"Every" seems pretty all encompassing to me.
"1984" presents a horrifying picture of "conformity and identity."
There are those today who would make us all conform to one view of what religion should
and should not be. There is a frighteningly growing number of people who subscribe to this
view--to the point of threatening death to people who would disagree.
Isn't that what made the Pilgrims leave England in the first place?
For another opinion on this see Under the Microscope's The End of Cowardice.