UCTAA churchlight

Site Search via Google

Meditation 235
Under God

A discussion has been opened on this article. To add your comments, please use the contact page.

On June 14, 1954, the law adding the phrase "under God" to the US Pledge of Allegiance went into effect. The objective was to distinguish the United States from "godless communism."

It is questionable whether such a distinction needed to be made in 1954. Further, it would have been better to recognize that the enemy was more properly godless Marxist-Leninism, rather than communism which had been followed religiously by early Christian societies. Regardless of what the doctrine is called, it has been essentially defeated everywhere but Cuba. And its defeat there can be expected to closely follow on the death of Mr. Castro.

So the baseless excuse for adding these two words has lost whatever validity it may have appeared to have.

Yet the words remain.

On June 14, 2004, fifty years later to the day, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision overruling a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court that these words were unconstitutional. The majority of the Court (5 out of 8) made this decision by stating that the plaintiff did not have standing to bring the issue to court. For those who feel the words are contrary to church-state separation, this decision leaves open the possibility of bringing the issue back to the Court.

The other three Justices all considered the plaintiff did have standing, but that the words were constitutional. Yet all three had different reasoning to reach this decision. Justice Thomas decided under existing court precedents, the words were unconstitutional, thus the precedents should be overturned. Chief Justice Rehnquist found no problem with existing precedent and determined the words were patriotic, not religious. And Justice O'Conner considered the words "ceremonial deism."

Given that these three cannot agree on the reason for the constitutionality of the words, there may be room for a skilled lawyer to change one or more minds when the issue next gets to the Supreme Court. And it will get there again.

I find O'Conner's words most interesting. If she considers "under God" to be ceremonial deism, she is suggesting that the words are essentially without meaning. A deistic god has no interest in the affairs of the world, including the United States of America.