The continuing uproar over the decision of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that found the "under God" phrase of the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional is much ado about nothing.
The decision was the logical extension of the fight to extend religions freedom to all Americans – not just Christians. After all, how can we have freedom of religion if children are indoctrinated into believing in God from the early years, throughout their education?
The original version of the Pledge of Allegiance (believed to have been written by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister and socialist) did not have the words "under God." They were put in the pledge in 1954 following a campaign lead by the Knights of Columbus, an extremely religious group and one that I had the privilege to be a member of throughout my childhood.
We celebrated at the local Knights of Columbus hall, across from our Catholic Church after many important rites of life including Baptisms, Holy Communions, Confirmations, and Marriages. They were good memories that held family and country in high esteem, and God took a back seat at the parties. God was in the mix, but somehow wasn’t a big part of our lives. We were convenient Catholics – religion gave us an excuse to get together and party. And it turns out we weren’t that different than the rest of the county.
In fact, studies have shown that most people who do believe in God, do so without certainty. Most people’s faith is not that strong, bowing to the more practical reasons for religion including community involvement, dating, family pressure, and the desire to give children a moral foundation. Kiergegaard’s "The Big Bet" theory states that most people believe in God "just in case." Just in case there is a God and a Judgment Day they try not to sin in order to get eternal life. This too, cannot be construed as true faith.
With all this wishy-washy faith in this country why do we have so many people and politicians up in arms about the decision of the 9th Circuit to get rid of "under God" from the Pledge? Politicians, of course, would be committing political suicide if they weren’t totally disgusted by this ruling. After all, they have nothing to gain (but a few true atheists’ votes) if they were to agree with the court.
How would a young, confused atheist boy in second grade feel when everyone is praying and pledging their allegiance to God? Left out, and "weird." We must not allow this persecution to occur, or we would be no better than the Islamic terrorists that demand you believe in Islam or die. We cannot allow ourselves to become a closed-minded, religious-fanatic country. It is enough we have the Christian Right spreading their hatred and intolerant views on TV and radio. We must stop the spread of this disease that seeps into our children’s soul and teaches them the same poor morals that the Reverend Jerry Falwell and others like him possess. Often times these men do it for financial, political, or some other personal gain. This, and not atheists, will be the downfall of American ideals and freedoms.
In such patriotic times, when our country needs the strength of God most, how could anyone dare suggest that there is no God? The fact of the matter is, most people do not really believe in God as the Bible tells them to. So let’s stop being so hypocritical and let’s practice true freedom of religion – including the freedom not to believe.
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