Monday, November 23, 2009
I pledge allegiance to....
The original pledge of 1892:
I pledge allegiance to my Flag,
and to the Republic for which it stands:
one Nation indivisible,
With Liberty and Justice for all.
Please note the original version was written by a socialist Baptist minister, Francis Bellamy.
In 1924 there were "concerns" that all the imigrants might get confused about which flag they were pledging allegiance to. The words "of the United States of America" were added at that time.
In 1954, with the communist scare, the words "under god" were added.
For a more complete history of the pledge CLICK HERE to visit a page written in 1992 by Dr. John W. Baer.
The big controversy today is if the words "under god" should be removed. The answer to this is actually quite simple, so to make it more difficult I will answer with a question, "Was the addition of the words unconstitutional and therefore the inclusion of the words unconstitutional?"
Well, let's take a look at that question...
The first amendment of the constitution
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
"Congress shall pass no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". The founders were quite explicit as to what this means: Equality for all means preference to none. This is where we get the separation of chuch and state from. It is not only stating freedom of religion, but a freedom from religion as well. This is what is known as the Establishment Clause.
Ok, now that we have read what the constitution says we need to look at how we determine if it would then be found unconstitutional.
The supreme court's test of Constitutionality under the establishment clause, per Lemon v. Kurtzman:
1. The government's action must have a secular legislative purpose;
2. The government's action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion;
3. The government's action must not result in an "excessive government entanglement" with religion.
If ANY of the three points fails, the action is unconstitutional.
Let's put the question at hand to the test:
1. The government's action must have a secular legislative purpose: FAIL
2. The government's action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion: there could be an argument on if the effect was "primary", but it clearly advances a religious ideal
3. The government's action must not result in an "excessive government entanglement" with religion: an argument again could be made on the term "excessively", but it is clearly "entangled"
There are points that could be argued on points 2 & 3, but point 1 was a clear fail.
This all makes it pretty apparent that the words "under god" in the pledge is unconstitutional. Unconstitutional means they should be removed.
America is a Constitutional Republic. What that means is that our government is designed to express not only the will of the majority (democracy), but also to simultaneously protect the unalienable rights of minorities and the powerless. That is an extremely important point because it is the constitutional protections of minorities and the powerless that add civility, humanity, and decency.
Some people argue that if someone doesn't like the words in there they should just not say them. The problem with that is it doesn't solve the problem of it being unconstitutional. just imagine if rather than "under god" the pledge read "without god". Would the same people be complacent just not saying them?
I believe I have covered that part of the issue fairly completely. After reading this post, if anyone still has a problem with the words being removed I recommend them re-reading the post. Keep re-reading the post till you either realize they should legally be removed or you tear up your voter registration card, either outcome would work.
Enough with facts, let's get to my opinion on a related point... Why even say the pledge at all?
I understand if you are in the military or any other government occupation it should be required of you to say, understand & uphold the pledge. I just don't believe it should be (or is) required for a common citizen.
You can be a citizen of this country and hate the country as well. You may even have no allegiance to the republic. Our constitution gives us the right to speak out against our leaders, question athority and even burn the flag. This is a good thing and these are the freedoms our ancestors died to preserve. We can't pick and choose our freedoms or else we are not truly free (the good news is you have the freedom to dissagree with that statement).
So, if an everyday citizen doesn't have to say the pledge... why make our children recite it in school?
Using the Bellamy salute (the original hand gesture for the pledge until Roosevelt changed it in 1942)
One answer is that it is a government brainwashing tactic... force the little ones to recite their devotion and obedience to the country and thereby creating good little obedient sheep that don't question government's control over them.
The new government school uniform
To some extent this may be true, but I don't believe that, even if it is, it would work.
To little kids these are just words and they don't know or understand the meaning behind them. So the good news is they aren't subject to subliminal messages or the brainwashing effect. The bad news is, they still make them recite it. They don't understand the meaning, so why? Penn Jillette said, "We show more love learning the intellectual principles that our country is based on than memorizing a pledge." and suggested an alternative. Penn suggested that schoolchildren recite the bill of rights instead of the pledge.
Let's not stop there... do you know how many people don't know at least the preamble to the constitution.
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
So let us add that on as well. I say we should have the kids not only recite both the preamble to the constitution and the bill of rights every day, but they should actually learn them as well. Some will ask what is the real difference here... unlike the pledge which promotes acceptance of government control, the constitution (especialy the bill of rights) teaches us that we have the right to freedoms, to question and not obey the government. This puts the people, not the gavernment in control.
There is a balance of power issue here. Maybe there government likes the focus on the issue of the words "under god" so it blinds people from the larger issue at stake here... freedom & power!
The constitution & bill of rights... these are possibly the most important reading materials any citizen of this great country will ever read. If we don't study them, learn them, value them and fight for their preservation we will see them stripped away from us. Some would say this has already been happening, bit by bit & law by law.