"Under God" in the pledge of allegiance "...is a positive statement, especially in the world after September 11" (Teen). The pledge meant to unite our country has begun to tear America's unity by the very seams. The phrase "under God" in the pledge of allegiance has caused much controversy between Americans from past years to the present. There are many reasons for this disagreement. One, and the most common, is the difference between different beliefs in a "God". The Statement "under God" is a paramount part of the Pledge of Allegiance and represents America's beliefs; therefore, these sacred words should be preserved.
To begin, these words were added to the original pledge in 1954 in able to widen the gap between Americans and the atheist Soviets (Neuhaus 1). Since it has been added, there have been many different views on their meaning and significance. There are many people who would like the phrase expunged from the pledge. Atheists are the largest of these groups. Atheists believe that there is no God, and refuse to look upon the idea. They feel it offensive that any mention of God is in the government. As said by atheist leader Mike Newdow, "You cannot say that God exists" (Hannity & Colmes 6). Another reason for atheist opposition is that they are trying to prove a point and make themselves known. They believe it is unconstitutional to refer to God (3). Another group that is against having "under God" in the pledge is Jehovah's witnesses. Witnesses feel that pledging to a nation "under God" is too much like worshiping the country itself. "...their beliefs as Jehovah's witnesses forbid it" (Webster). Finally, one last clique that disagrees with the pledge is Democrats. They feel that it is against the constitution for these words to be in the salute to the flag. Also, democrats are agreeing with diverse people in able to receive more support. However, many different people agree with the expression "under God" in the pledge. The national government is one of these. They believe that as a republic, majority rules and, considering 83% of Americans are some dialect of Christianity (U.S. Religious Affiliation, 2002), respect the fact that majority supports these words. They also believe that the phrase was added and should be kept for national unity. Also, if these words were removed, it would do more harm than good ( Nuehaus, 3). Most religious groups also want the words "under God" included in the pledge. Because the phrase supports the belief of a higher deity, religious people like the phrase and enjoy saying it. They and republicans also prefer the words because if influences the idea of national unity. There are many other views of this disposition.
Many atheists believe it is wrong to include these words in the pledge of allegiance. They believe it forces religion onto nonbelievers. The idea of a God is not received by all Americans, and atheists think that saying the fragment "under God" is like professing to a faith that is not real. Atheists believe that saying the pledge is much like throwing away beliefs in order to pledge themselves to America (Mauro 1). The belief that there is a higher being infuriates atheists, and it is shown by the attacks of millions of religious people who were murdered by atheist cliques (Neuhaus 2). They argue that it is wrong to include God in any part of Government.
It is everyone's right as an American to choose what to believe; it is not forced upon anyone. If saying the pledge makes atheists uncomfortable, then they should remain silent. It cannot be forced on anyone to say the pledge. "The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1943 that students cannot be forced to say the Pledge of Allegiance" (Webster 2). Or, if one feels that it is wrong to not pledge themselves to their country, they may simply not repeat the words "under God" and say the rest of the pledge. However, it is not right to remove the words, because they have a great significance to unity, history, and religion. Just as it would be wrong to remove the teaching of evolution only because there are some disputes, it is wrong to efface the phrase "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance (Sifton 6).
Another controversy is the belief that there is a discrimination for atheists and the words "under God" increase in the gap between atheists and others because they refuse to say the pledge. Some think that because they will not say the pledge, others will make fun of them and humiliate them. When these words were added to the pledge and students refused to say them they were called traitors, Soviets, and Nazis (Freedman 23). Atheists and other groups argue that if they refuse to say the pledge then they will be humiliated. According to Alexandra Apatoff, the phrase "ignores our country's diversity" (Teen).
To counter this, the words in the pledge were not meant for discrimination, but for unity. Again it is up to the person himself what to believe. Though it is not right to humiliate them for not reciting the pledge, if what others think of them bothers them enough that they go against what they strongly believe, then maybe they should find something more sturdy to believe. However, no one is deliberately separating people who do not want to recite the pledge. If it is their belief that it is wrong, then they should be respected.
Major atheist Michael Newdow began to challenge the words "under God" in the pledge when he felt that it offended his daughter. He first sued the girl's school for having the pledge said every morning and then went to federal court to try and efface the words out of the pledge. He ended up in supreme court where his entire proposition was denied. Newdow has tried multiple times to try and make his opinion heard. He continues to try and gain support from others (Mauro).
In contrast, when Newdow entered his case he told courts that he was doing this in defense of his daughter. He out rightly lied to the government to try and get his case heard. His daughter is actually a Christian girl who enjoys saying the pledge. She lives with her mother who is also a devout Christian and divorced Newdow because of his beliefs. In his defense, Newdow argues that is daughter is too young to have a religious belief. This is an assumption that he created to get away with using her. In an interview with FOX News Newdow was asked, "Why did you use her? Why don't you do this on your own, privately, and leave the child... that's a Christian, that likes to say the Pledge with the words "under God" out of your political agenda? Why did you use her?" (Hannity & Colmes 3). To this, Newdow had no response, because he knew the answer was that if he hadn't a reason to attack the perfectly fine pledge, then his case could not be made, and he would not receive the money he did. The fact is that Mike would like to have, in his words, "...one nation that denies the existence of God"(Hannity & Colmes 4).
Finally, another group who opposes the pledge is Jehovah's witnesses. This religious group believes that saying the pledge is the same as worshiping the nation. Because idol worship is so denounced in this religion, having the words "one nation under God" in the pledge angers some witnesses. They believe it denounces God.
However, this practice is only worship if that is what they choose for it to be. By definition in the Webster's Dictionary, worship is reverence to a sacred object or deity (Webster's Dictionary 640). If one does not hold the flag or country as a sacred religious object, than this is not worship. Also, if it does bother a person this much, they may use the time to do something else, such as Jehovah's witness Adrian Boykin, who takes the time to pray about the upcoming day (Webster 1). These are all examples of how repeating the phrase "under God" in the pledge is not worship. It is only a way to express national unity.
The words "under God" were added to the pledge to separate America from our enemies. It is only another way we can express the unity of our country "under God" whether that god be an overall deity or just a role model. Atheists believe that it is a hidden way of forcing people to admit that there is a God; however, the government is in no way forcing anyone to admit religion. It is not a symbol of worship, but one of unity.
In conclusion, if these words were taken from the pledge it would only open doors to take "In God We Trust" off of our money and any other references to God out of our government. It would not stop until our country was "one nation in denial of any God". Like said by Allie Rice, "Religious freedom doesn't mean the absence of all religion" (Teen 1). Support the pledge and our country. We are one nation "under God". In the words of President Eisenhower,
"To anyone who truly loves America, nothing could be more inspiring than... reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America's heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country's most powerful resource, in peace or war" (Dwight D. Eisenhower).
- "Hannity & Colmes." FOX News. Fox. WXIA, Atlanta. 08 Dec. 2004.
- Freedman, Russell. In Defense of Liberty. First Edition. Russell Freedman, 2003.
- Mauro, Tony. California Atheist Fails in Quest to Topple Pledge. 15 June 2004. 11 Apr. 2007. http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org.
- Neuhaus, Richard Jochn. "Political Blasphemy." First Things: A Monthly Journal Of Religion And Public Life Oct. 2002: 91-92. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale Group. Mountain View High School Library, Mesa, AZ. 11 Apr. 2007.
- "Radio Address to the Nation on Prayer, September 18, 1982," Public Papers of Dwight D. Eisenhower. Washington: GPO, 1956.
- Sifton, Elisabeth. " The Battle Over the Pledge." The Nation 5 Apr. 2004:11. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale Group. Mountain View High School Library, Mesa, AZ. 11 Apr. 2007.
- Teen. "Pledge of Allegiance." Teen People May 2005: 72. EBSCO MAS Ultra School Edition. EBSCOHOST. Mountain View High School Library, Mesa, AZ. 11 Apr. 2007.http://search.epnet.com.
- Webster's Deluxe Edition. Nichol's Publishing, 2001.
- "U.S Religious Affiliation, 2002." March 2002. 11 Apr. 2007. http://www.adherents.com/rel_USA.html
- Webster, Terry. "Lawmaker Wants 'State Under God': Little-known Bill Would Add 3Words to Pledge." Fortworth Star-Telegram 4 Apr. 2007EBSCO MAS Ultra School Edition. EBSCOHOST. Mountain View High School Library, Mesa, AZ. 11 Apr. 2007. http://search.epnet.com