Thursday, January 06, 2005

Newdow Fights Case Against 'Ceremonial Deism'

Michael Newdow has filed his case against the use of 'under God' in the pledge of allegiance again. CNN has clearly identified the legal argument holding sway in the Supreme Court:
Rehnquist wrote that the phrase "one nation under God" is more about ceremony and history than about religion. He likened the phrase to the motto "In God We Trust" on U.S. currency, and to the call that opens each session of the high court itself: "God save this honorable court."

Perhaps the Supreme Court could solve the problem by adding a couple words to the pledge of allegiance. School children could be instructed to say, "One Nation under a Deist God," then Newdow and all the right-wing Christians in the country would know that the Supreme Court is only making "ceremonial deism" the established religion of our country.


Vaughn said...

This is a good point. Altough I think that a better description might be that we remove God altogether and name ourselves, "One Nation Under the Constitution". Isn't that what politicians and judges are supposed to swear to uphold?

Anonymous said...

Of all the silly things to fight about - just two little words. I do feel that the words "under God" in the pledge are inappropriate, as they violate separation of church and state in a small way. But saying the Pledge, including the words "under God" does not force anyone to believe in God or to follow any particular religion. On the other hand, leaving the words out would not deprive any person of the right to practice their religion. It simply is not as important as people are making it out to be.

Reflections in d minor

Dr. Bruce Prescott said...


Symbols are always important to religious people.

They are also important to politicians.

Both can use symbols to inspire people to aspire to something higher than themselves.

Both have used symbols to manipulate people for ignoble purposes.

Joe said...

Vaughn sums it up better than anyone else I've seen. One Nation under the Constitution. Great call.

I'm for changing our motto back, not having the opening invocations in Congress or the Court, and taking the motto off our money, so this probably isn't where I belong. Not looking to flame, just a respectful difference of position.

Dr. Bruce Prescott said...


Actually I agree with you and Vaughn. I oppose this ceremonial deism because it violates one of the ten commandments -- "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain."

I don't know how a society could be more profane than to have the highest court in the land declare that the word "God" has no meaning and then imprint it on coins and require school children to recite it every day as they begin school.

"Under the Constitution" is much to be prefered over "Under God."

P.M. Prescott said...

I am for getting out of saying the pledge completely. It is stupid to pledge allegiance to a piece of cloth and ink. The flag is a powerful symbol, but our country is what it is because of the constitution, not the flag. The constitution is about the government being there for the people, not the people being there for the government. The government should pledge to be the servants of the general public, not the general public pledging to be there for the government. But after all I'm just a public school teacher, what does anyone care about what I think.

Randy said...

Here's an excellent article arguing that Christians should call for the removal of 'under God' in the pledge:

Dr. Bruce Prescott said...


Thanks for the link. Rodney Clapp's essay is very good on this issue.

I'll bet he would be interested in the opinions of public school teachers like Pat.