Monday, November 15, 2010

Change the Pledge: One nation under Allah?

Sadly, the Freedom from Religion Foundation lost another round in their effort to remove "Under God" from our Pledge of Allegiance. The Court wrote:
"It takes more than the presence of words with religious content to have the effect of advancing religion, let alone to do so as a primary effect," the judge wrote. "The Pledge and the phrase 'under God' are not themselves prayers, nor are they readings from or recitations of a sacred text of a religion. Here, the words 'under God' appear in a pledge to a flag – itself a secular exercise, accompanied by no other religious language or symbolism."
But for all of the Court's complex (and sometimes convoluted) reasoning, there's a simple and obvious test that shows that their decision is wrong. Even they should have seen it. Consider this:
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation without God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Doesn't this also meet the Court's definition of "secular"?

Or how about this:
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under Allah, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Surely that too meets the Court's definition of "secular."

You can't logically make the claim that my two versions of the Pledge violates a Christian's or Jew's rights, but their version of the Pledge doesn't violate my rights. The law cuts both ways.

The First Circuit Court of Appeals is wrong on this important ruling. They can use all of the legal reasoning they like to obfuscate the plain meaning of the words, "under God," but their logic all falls apart when you turn the tables.


  1. I think the Freedom From Religion peeps are going about this all wrong. Instead of making this a fight about REMOVING god from the pledge, make at about RETURNING to the original pledge of allegiance -- the one that doesn't mention god. Don't make it about atheists changing the Pledge, make it about atheists returning the pledge to its original form after some other blokes changed it.

  2. Well put.

    was looking for the facebook "like" button. I would have used it.

  3. You can thank anti-commie crazy McCarthy for the new pledge. Not exactly sure why and when it happened, but I'm sure it had something to do with one-up the "godless Communist pigs" of the Cold War era. It was over 50 years ago, let it go.

  4. Craig, I am atheist myself, and I would think that your second suggested pledge (under Allah) doesn't really prove the point you're trying to make. Allah is simply the Arabic word for god. There isn't a reason the pledge would simply throw in an Arabic word. In the context of the pledge I'm inclined to think that the word "god" is used to represent a generic creator-identity, common to several religions (though this is not the root of its introduction I'm sure).

    The point I'm trying to make is that "under god" is generic enough that the pledge could be said honestly by a membor of any religion really, but "under Allah" would make it too glaringly specific to the islamic god.

    It is my opinion that the phrase should be left out altogether. Most anything that could be said there would just conflict with the succeeding term, "indivisible".

    I'm not American nor have I ever been educated in America, so if I have misunderstood anything about the pledge then a) my apologies and b) please do correct me.

  5. Anon - your closing point is the most important, "the phrase should be left out altogether." As to using "under Allah," I hope it is clear that I'm not actually proposing that. It's just a thought experiment to show mainstream religions how it fees when the tables are turned. If Christians were forced to say "under Allah" in order to pledge their patriotism, they'd see why atheists and agnostics might object to the current Pledge.

  6. Of course I am aware you were not seriously proposing it, Craig :)

    I'm just saying that I didn't think it illustrated your point (or rather the point I thought you were trying to make) very well.

    I think I may have misinterpreted your point though. As I said, I am not American and therefore I perhaps don't quite understand the context in which "under god" is spoken in the pledge.

    I do think though that the phrase "under god" cannot be compared directly with "under allah", because in my opinion "god" can be taken to mean in this context "under whatever higher power it is you may believe in" (though this presents a problem for you and I who believe in no such thing). "Under allah" is more akin to "under the god of islam specifically".

    Here's a way to think about it: A christian, a muslim and a pagan could all comfortably say "under god" (god the generic higher power). But "under jehovah", "under allah" or "under the sun-god" would be far too specific to each, respectively, and would alienate the other two.

    This reply is rather jumbled, I apologise. I tend to type things out in the order I think of them.

  7. how about 'Under GODS', don't forget our hindu friends.


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