Friday, October 17, 2003

Line in the Sand: Everybody's abuzz that the Supreme Court will decide whether the Pledge of Allegiance can contain the words "under God". The same government body that begins each workday with the routine declaration, "God save the United States and this honorable court," will make a major decision concerning the separation of church and state.

I've argued before that preventing government from ever uttering the word "God" is unconstitutional because it establishes atheism as the official religion of he United States. But posting an innocuous sign that says "God Bless America" is nothing compared to swearing allegiance to a nation under God.

However, this issue is being overblown. The children who are forced to recite the pledge aren't grasping the ramifications of their words, especially if you listen closely to what they really say: "... and to the public, for witches dance, wunashun, underdog, invisible, withiberty and just this forahh."

The truth is, "God" doesn't belong in the Pledge. But I wish that Congress never added Mr. Almighty to it during the Red Scare in 1954. I don't, however, think it's necessary to forcefully remove those two words.

But the Supreme Court will make a decision, nonetheless. And we don't really know which way the Court will decide now that Antonin Scalia recused himself. People are talking about a possible 4-4 tie affirming the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling to remove God from the Pledge.

I'm not a big fan of Scalia. Although I think he can be very entertaining, I question many of his decisions. However, I'm surprised that he recused himself from this case. People said he shouldn't participate because he made his feelings on the matter clear during previous speaking engagements (surprise! he wants God to stay in the Pledge). But that seems silly. You can pretty much force two-thirds of the justices to recuse themselves from almost anything based on the fact that you know how they'll vote.

If the Supreme Court chooses to keep "God" around, that will chip away at the separation of church and state. If the High Court gets rid of "God", then we'll have to face the fact that many people in this country will cling to the "traditional" version, making group recitals of the Pledge all the more awkward.

I'm interested to see what the final ruling is. But considering that I haven't recited the Pledge since elementary school, I'm not particularly worried about it, one way or the other. Just wake me up if they decide whether "In God We Trust" should stay on our money.


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