Tuesday, June 15, 2004

And Justices For All?

Today the Supreme Court handed down their ruling on the issue of the words “…under God” in our national Pledge.

Some of you who have been faithful readers here know my position on this. Since the Supreme Court decided to bless us with their lofty opinions, I think it only fair to take the gloves off and yes, disagree with the highest court in our land.

Don’t leave now, please read further and hear me out.

First of all, the decision was not really a shocker to me. After all, the Supreme Court has dodged dicey issues in the past, and this one was no different.

Have you ever watched a movie, television show, or perhaps read a book, where someone was granted a wish or two? What normally happens is that the person granting the wish turns out to be mischievous in some way and never fulfills the wish exactly how the recipient would like.

A great example of this is the movie “Bedazzled” in which Elizabeth Hurley plays the devil and grants seven wishes to Brendan Fraser. If you have seen this gem, you know that Brendan never actually gets any of his wishes just how he thought they would turn out.

In this same spirit the Supreme Court found their much needed loophole by basing their ruling on the legal standing of Michael Newdow to be able to bring this to these judicial gods on Mt Olympus. Because this was a matter of who had the custody of his daughter in the state of California, the point of whether or not the words in the Pledge were constitutional or not were basically a non-issue.

The news is giving the impression in its reports that the Supreme Court ruled that the words “under God” can remain in the “Pledge of Allegiance”, when in fact they have ruled no such thing. The fact is they never took the opportunity to debate the issue of the constitutionality of the words in the Pledge.

Some of the judges attempted to toss in their two-cents though, and some of their statements are a bit scary.

Justice O’Connor, for example, stated that, “It is unsurprising that a Nation founded by religious refugees and dedicated to religious freedom should find references to divinity in its symbols, songs, mottoes, and oaths.”

What amazes me is that she can acknowledge the need for religious freedom, yet indorses the brainwashing of children to recite the mantra “under God” daily.

She goes on to discuss “ceremonial deism” and the references to God in traditional patriotic songs, mottoes and our money.

Again, most of these things are not really relevant to the issue at hand. I can overlook the mention of God that is sprinkled throughout our nation, but to me the entire issue is very simple. If you remove all of the doubletalk from the justices, to me it boils down to one thing. Does the government have the right to force a child to recite the Pledge with the words “under God” in it? The answer is absolutely not!

Justice O’Conner claims that, “…the appearance of the phrase ‘under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance constitutes an instance of such ceremonial deism.” She says that this is based on her evaluation of these four factors. These factors, as far as I can tell, are etched on her own self-created measuring stick.

I’ll take a look at each factor since she felt they were so important to her decision.

History and Ubiquity
Justice O’Conner claims basically that since the pledge has been around for 50 years, and recited by “millions of children”, that the words “under God” no longer have a religious meaning to them. She also asks the question that if it bothered people so much why was it only the third such challenge in the past 50 years?

Your honor, does the ritualistic brainwashing of millions of young children over the past 50 years make it right simply by shear volume of victims and the longevity of the ignorance?

Let’s take this a step further and state that slavery is okay because it has taken place over thousands of years by most of the countries on this planet? By your thinking slavery is not illegal, and should be reinstated immediately!

Why wasn’t it challenged more frequently your honor? This ridicule and obnoxious pro-Christian stance to defend any Christian stronghold makes it a very taboo thing to challenge. Michael Newdow is probably being attacked daily by every pro-Christian group on the planet, not-to-mention all the grandmothers of the country. This case was decided before it even went to the Supreme Court based on the stance that everyone form the administration on down has taken.

Absence of Worship or Prayer
In a nutshell because the words do not denote worshipping or prayer, it has “lost through rote repetition any significant religious content”. So, let me get this straight. The government can force young children to repeat a religious allegiance over and over again, and if it is done by millions of children, this negates its meaning?

Oh my goodness Justice O’Connor, does this mean the entire pledge is now meaningless? What kind of psychobabble is this?

Absence of Reference to Particular Religion
Now this one amuses me as well. Again, the illustrious justice says that, “It does not refer to a nation ‘under Jesus’ or ‘under Vishnu,” but instead acknowledges religion in a general way: a simple reference to a generic ‘God.’”

Again, more misleading crap talk. Justice O’Connor, do you not know that a capitalization of “God” is used to only mean the Christian God? And what other generic God are you referring to? This once again does not address the fact the children are reciting a pledge to their country with a religious statement added to it for no other reason then a Christian one!

Minimal Religious Content
Now this one cracks me up. In this “factor” Justice O’Connor says that, “…the presence of these words is not absolutely essential to the Pledge, as demonstrated by the fact that it existed without them for over 50 years.”

Did you catch that last part? The pledge did not have the words “under God” in it for longer then it did! And guess what, the words are not essential to the Pledge. Then why the hell don’t we just remove them again? What are the Christians afraid will happen?

Let’s move on to Justice Thomas, and look over some of his viewpoints.

Justice Thomas talks about a case that was cited in a decision which talked about students and graduations. Even though the ceremony was optional, “peer pressure” caused the students to have a “reasonable perception” of being forced to pray, because the prayer was at the ceremony.

This is one instance of “peer pressure”, how about everyone in class every single morning of your school life! If that’s not peer pressure I don’t know what is. Should we add in the fact that very young children are forced to do this when they are too young to even make any religious decision for themselves? You say they are not forced? Let’s see, they are told to stand up, recite the Pledge, and told the words to say. They do it over and over again before they are even old enough to know any different.

Although Justice Thomas says that, “I conclude that, as a matter of our precedent, the Pledge policy is unconstitutional.”, he also ends his statement by saying that, “It follows that religious liberty rights are not in question and that the Pledge policy fully comports to the Constitution.”

So where do we go from here?

I would like to see the words removed from the Pledge. If they are truly “not essential” then let’s just remove them once again and be done with it. After all, we are pledging our allegiance to the flag and this country, not to God. Everyone should be happy by removing the words. Oh but wait! People are still fighting this vehemently. Why is that if these two words are “not essential”? It’s because IT IS A RELIGIOUS ISSUE!

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