Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Under God under fire in Pledge of Allegiance

Mikaela crows:
From Washington Post:(heavily excerpted by moi)
U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled that the pledge's reference to one nation "under God" violates school children's right to be "free from a coercive requirement to affirm God."

Karlton, appointed to the Sacramento bench in 1979 by President Carter, wrote that the case concerned "the ongoing struggle as to the role of religion in the civil life of this nation" and added that his opinion "will satisfy no one involved in that debate."

"Undoubtedly, the pledge contains a religious phrase, and it is demeaning to persons of any faith to assert that the words `under God' contain no religious significance," Judge Karen Williams wrote for the 4th Circuit. "The inclusion of those two words, however, does not alter the nature of the pledge as a patriotic activity."

Much legal battling still to go (including a probable trip to the Supreme Court -- any bets???), but at least someone's made a good point about how references to God really are about religion.

"Imagine every morning if the teachers had the children stand up, place their hands over their hearts, and say, 'We are one nation that denies God exists,'" claimant and Attorney Newdow said.

"I think that everybody would not be sitting here saying, 'Oh, what harm is that.' They'd be furious. And that's exactly what goes on against atheists. And it shouldn't."

"All it has to do is put the pledge as it was before, and say that we are one nation, indivisible, instead of dividing us on religious basis," Newdow said.

This feels like a personal victory. It's always bothered me that we simultaneously strut our religious freedom and separation of church and state while inculcating patriotism into our children with the Pledge that includes 'Under God' -- added LATER -- as they stand there with their right hands over their hearts, fingering with their left hands their allowance that says 'Under God' in their pockets.

I was one of those kids who wouldn't SAY the under god part, although I did say the rest, and for years and years and years, when I needed to know my left from my right, I would instinctively put my hand over my heart, thereby confirming -- that's my right. Not kidding.
I was very thankful when someone finally showed me the L trick, which had never stuck previously because I didn't trust the way it looked in the flush of panic over not knowing my right from my left and besides, what if I'm dyslexic?

I don't think we should beat faith OUT of our children, either. I think we should safeguard the space that allows each of us to decide our religion for ourselves, and for me, that means no state-sponsored or school-sponsored religion. I recognize that some religious areas would feel the opposite to be true, that if there's no space for god in their day, then they feel persecuted. I say -- take the space for silent prayer, but let's not do it as a led activity in our schools.

Besides, what do you do with this as a teacher? The only way to be fair to ALL students is to be accepting of the faith or beliefs all kids have or don't have and not expect the teacher to include religion in the curriculum.

Say good-bye to god, kids! Say hello to freedom! she says, tongue firmly in cheek.