Sorry To Hear About Your Religious Symbols

I don’t think religions are going to appreciate having these symbols relegated to historical status.

Sympathies go out to religious people I know, since the Supreme Court ( SCOTUS ) determined the Christian Cross and the phrase ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’ to be secular symbols. In the case of IN GOD WE TRUST and UNDER GOD in the Pledge, “lost through rote repetition any significant religious content.”. An interesting read from a past SCOTUS Case. Establishment Clause cases are complicated, that’s why they make it to the top of our justice system on a regular basis. It is a gamble to force the government to choose between religion and the Constitution. While it may look like they favored religion, by allowing once religious symbols like the Christian Cross and the phrase ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’ to be put on public property, I don’t think religions are going to appreciate having these symbols relegated to historical status. While it is likely that some will be delighted with the additional public exposure, regardless of the cost, I think Religion will realize what a bad deal they got.

The court could have directly upheld the Constitution and recognized the symbols as substantially religious, and erected with the purpose of promoting a specific brand of religion. I suppose in a way, they did uphold the Constitution. They declared the symbols secular, so the issue of religious entanglement was moot. Dilemma solved.

It’s not all bad though. By deeming the symbol and phrase as secular, they helped to maintain the padding around the Constitutional line between religion and government. That means religious institutions can continue to get away with things like not having to report financial information to the IRS and reduced ( if any ) taxes on billions of dollars worth of church property. Well, not bad for Religion, the rest of us have to make up the tax shortfall. This is also briefly addressed in the link above. Like I said, complicated.

If Religion does not want to see its symbols and phrases treated in such a fashion, they could take the bold step of removing these symbols from spaces paid for with public money, in order to preserve whatever meaning they had before the Government was invited in for its 2 cents. There are countless private spaces for these symbols to occupy, in order to preserve their integrity. Or they could leave them up as a public secular symbol of a bygone era. I would advise the former. Either way, Religious symbols no longer on property paid for by all taxpayers.

Sorry for your loss, Religion. But, it is the government, what were you thinking?

John McClean

Midlothian Freethought

When The 9th Circuit Spoke and Nobody Cared

From the LTE archive circa 2003. ‘Under God’ in the Pledge was in the news.

Thanks Ninth Circuit Court

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court voted 15-14 to take no

further action regarding its June, 2002 ruling in NEWDOW v. U.S.

At that time they declared that “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional and was the equivalent of government endorsed religion. The First Amendment to our Constitution prohibits government from promoting or establishing religion and religious belief. The Pledge of Allegiance should be secular. It is, ideally, a statement of unity for a free people, regardless of whether one believes or disbelieves in religious teachings. This case has nothing to do with the right of people to recite the

Pledge of Allegiance. The decision by the Ninth Circuit panel focused on the inclusion of two words, ‘under God,’ that were not part of the original pledge. The statement that the United States is a nation ‘under God’ is an endorsement of religion. It is a profession of a religious belief, namely, a belief in monotheism.”

Unfortunately our Attorney General just does not seem to get it when he said that no effort will be spared to preserve the rights of our citizens to pledge allegiance to the American flag or this time when he avowed to defend American’s right to declare their patriotism through the voluntary recitation. This has nothing to do with patriotism and I doubt that any school child considers it voluntary. It’s about linking religion with patriotism and it is wrong for the government to be doing it.

So, yes , Mr Ashcroft , as long as “Under God” remains in the pledge our school children will be deprived of this patriotic exercise.

Yes , Mr Ashcroft , as long as you continue to leave this phrase in, it will be just as unconstitutional as school prayer.

As long as the government continues to attempt to associate patriotism with a monotheistic, obviously Christian, god, they will miss out.

Fortunately, millions of school children everywhere will breathe a sigh of relief that they no longer have to pretend to believe in the majority religion just to show their patriotism. Perhaps the courts are right on , just as they were in 1963 with prayer.

“We may not — we must not — allow public sentiment or outcry to

guide our decisions,” Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote. “The Bill of Rights is, of

course, intended to protect the rights of those in the minority

against the temporary passions of a majority.”

What the recent decision did change from last June , is to narrow the scope to only encompass school recitation of the Pledge as long as it contains ‘Under God’. If we can eliminate the reference to the supernatural, the Pledge will again include all Americans. Currently it is a religious test, contrary to the fourth amendment to the Constitution.

If we just declare that it is unconstitutional to allow the Pledge in public school because of the religious phrase and do not remove the phrase entirely, we will indeed be doing our school children a great injustice.