Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Overturn the shmG PoA amendment now.

These three paragraphs from Newdow v. Rio Linda, USD p. 3921 exemplify the monotheistic bias of the two judges:

"[B]oth the purpose and effect of the Pledge are that of a predominantly patriotic, not a religious, exercise. The phrase 'under God' is a recognition of our Founder's [sic] political philosophy that a power greater than the government gives the people their inalienable rights. Thus, the Pledge is an endorsement of our form of government, not of religion or any particuar sect."

"The Founders did not see these two ideas - that individuals possessed certain God-given rights which no government can take away, and that we do not want our nation to establish a religion - as being in conflict."

"the Pledge of Allegiance serves to unite our vast nation through the proud recitation of some of the ideals upon which our Republic was founded and for which we continue to strive: one Nation under God - the Founding Fathers' belief that the people of this nation are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; indivisible - although we have individual states, they are united in one republic; with liberty - the government cannot take away the people's inalienable rights; and justice for all - everyone in America is entitled to "equal justice under the law.""

The Declaration of Independence was a call to armed rebellion and as such it was a propaganda document. Because religion has emotional weight it is not surprising that the authors of the DoI employed some religious language that was compatible with the monotheism of the majority. Our country's controlling legal foundation is the constitution, not the DoI. There are no phrases such as "endowed by their Creator" or "inalienable rights", or "God-given rights" in the legal text of the constitution. Unlike the constitution, the DoI was not intended to protect the rights of religious minorities. Since this lawsuit was seeking civil rights protection enforcement for a non-monotheistic minority under the constitution, it was inappropriate for the judges to rely so heavily on the DoI.

What is remarkable about our constitution is that the religious beliefs of the Founders are not expressed in the law. This is not because our Founders didn't have any religious beliefs. This is not because they didn't think religious beliefs could influence the behavior of believers. Its because the Founders considered religious beliefs to be matters of personal conscience that are outside the reach of the law. They were seeking to create a limited government, limited in the sense that government was prohibited from implementing laws that interfered with the beliefs of its citizens. Elected officials arguably could personally appeal to religious sentiments, even advocate for religious beliefs, but the laws, as exemplified by the constitution, were to remain silent regarding religious beliefs.

The 1954 "under God" amendment to the Pledge of Allegiance did exactly what the Founders, our constitution, and the EC in particular, made an effort to avoid doing. That law, by adding the words "under God" to the Pledge, placed itself between citizens and their atheist and polytheist beliefs. Contrary to what Judge Scalia says, the constitution should not be interpreted as permitting the disregard of such minority beliefs. It is unlikely that our Chief Justices would uphold as constitutional a law that added "godless" to the PoA, nor should they. Our constitution has ethical merit in large part because it favors equality before the law and freedom of conscience for all citizens. Good ethics is reciprocal and good laws therefore must similarly be reciprocal. Our laws earn our respect in proportion to their ethical merit. It really is that simple.

That 1954 amendment should be overturned, the sooner that happens the better. As a reasonable alternative to overturning that amendment, the PoA ritual with "under God" in public schools could be declared unconstitutional on the more narrow grounds that it coercively targets children, such as the 5 year old who was the plaintiff for standing in this lawsuit.

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