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Supreme Court Will Hear Pledge of Allegiance Case

michael posted about 11 years ago | from the one-nation-under-allah dept.

United States 1476

Decaffeinated Jedi writes "As reported in this article, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case next year (most likely in June) involving whether public schools can lead students in a 'voluntary' recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. At issue in this case is whether the inclusion of the phrase 'under God' in the pledge constitutes an establishment of religion on the part of the state and an infringement on students' religious liberty when it is recited in the public school setting. This case comes to the Supreme Court as an appeal of the June 2002 ruling made by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals--a decision that led to one of the most active stories in Slashdot history." The CNN article's emphasis on voluntariness -- "whether schoolchildren can be allowed to recite the Pledge voluntarily" -- is grossly misleading, almost propagandistic. Most states have laws requiring the pledge to be recited every day as a class activity, and these are the laws in question. In theory students shouldn't be punished for failing to recite along with the rest of the class (due to a previous Supreme Court decision). No state has a law prohibiting anyone from reciting the pledge voluntarily, whenever they want to.

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From my home town (1)

dspyder (563303) | about 11 years ago | (#7213731)

This case originated in my home town. They're a bunch of religious nuts out here. Very wholesome in Sacramento, except apparently in the legislature :)

We plan our Sunday breakfasts around church time... you can't eat in Elk Grove past 10:00am!


Re:From my home town (1)

MrLint (519792) | about 11 years ago | (#7213757)

Thank Hera this case will be reviewed:)

It's a matter of timing (1, Interesting)

letxa2000 (215841) | about 11 years ago | (#7213811)

I think it's a matter of timing. Back when the "under God" words were added to the Pledge back in the 50's I would have agreed that it was improper and it should have gone to the courts back then.

I find it offensive that they want to declare it unconstitutional now. Yes, I believe in God. But God is with us regardless of whether or not we have the "under God" words in the Pledge. But at this point removing those words--or ANY words--from the Pledge is like removing a few words from the Star Spangled Banner. Just don't touch it.

I am optimistic the Supreme Court will recognize that the Pledge, in its entirety, is part of our national culture. For better or worse, whatever religious overtones "under God" may have should have been argued nearly half a century ago before it became a part of our culture.

Just like "In God We Trust" on dollar bills. Probably improper, I probably wouldn't have put it there myself, nor does it change my life drastically whether it's there or not. But now that it's there, leave it alone. Don't mess with our culture and traditions.

Re:It's a matter of timing (3, Insightful)

tuba_dude (584287) | about 11 years ago | (#7213884)

Hold on a sec. If it was put in in the 50's, that would mean that it wasn't there longer than it has been there. If they changed it then, why not put it back? That would be the real culture and tradition that we need to worry about messing with. Then again, why are we trying to keep these entirely human ideas set in stone? People change, times change, our ideas change. Since we are the ones following the traditions, why should they not change as well?

Re:It's a matter of timing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7213888)

You can say all that because you believe in god. Now imagine if it said "Allah" or "Buddha". Your opinion would be drastically different. This country is not about one religion - it's about freedom of religion, or lack of for that matter. Putting *anything* religous on currency, patriotic phrases, or anything in goverment for that matter is very offensive, no matter how long it has been there. By saying "don't touch it", would have been like Abe Lincoln saying "Well, slavery has been around for a long time now, so we better not mess with it. Carry on." That's not cool, and neither is having religous overtones in anything with the goverment which is supposed to support freedom of religion.

Re:It's a matter of timing (2, Insightful)

Animaether (411575) | about 11 years ago | (#7213895)

ck when the "under God" words were added to the Pledge back in the 50's I would have agreed that it was improper and it should have gone to the courts back then.


Don't mess with our culture and traditions.

You do realize that up until said 50's, the culture and traditions did not include the 'under God' bit, right ?
Which means that back then culture/traditions were already messed with.

Why do you oppose any notion of the same sort of thing happening now ?

huh? (1)

EvilStein (414640) | about 11 years ago | (#7213826)

That must explain the plethora of late night coffee shops & tattoo parlors in downtown Sacramento. :P

Elk Grove may be a bit conservative, but I dunno about the rest of the area.. ;)

(I lived downtown for many years)


Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7213850)


Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7213907)

You're not alone

meow (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7213733)


blah blah blah (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7213736)

first? dunno, blah blarg blarg blarg runnin slow

Pledge almost is the same as prayer in schools (1)

dextr0us (565556) | about 11 years ago | (#7213738)

I really don't see a problem with someone reciting the pledge, but if you don't want to, then don't. Prayer in school isn't outlawed, its just not encouraged. I'm more interested to see if kids really care whether or not they recite the pledge or not, my guess is "i dont care either way" responses would prevail.

Re:Pledge almost is the same as prayer in schools (4, Insightful)

Decaffeinated Jedi (648571) | about 11 years ago | (#7213782)

Given the sometimes cruel nature of peer pressure and cliques in public schools, do students really have that much of a viable choice in this matter--or do they risk being labeled as "anti-American" and treated as a social outcast if they decide to sit out on the recitation of the pledge? I'd argue that there's more to it from a social standpoint than students just not saying the pledge if they don't want to.

Re:Pledge almost is the same as prayer in schools (1)

dextr0us (565556) | about 11 years ago | (#7213851)

At least where i'm from, a conservative utah school, i didn't see that as the case. Being labeled "anti-american" was far from any issue on our mind. I was editor of my newspaper, and no one really batted an eye when any of my articles about the patriot act being patently anti american (in the sense that our liberties were, and are, being taken away from us) and the anti conservitve viewpoint i shared was met with little more than "you think too much."

Re:Pledge almost is the same as prayer in schools (1)

letxa2000 (215841) | about 11 years ago | (#7213878)

Given the sometimes cruel nature of peer pressure and cliques in public schools, do students really have that much of a viable choice

They have the same choice and peer pressure as adults. They might as well start getting used to it at an early age.

or do they risk being labeled as "anti-American" and treated as a social outcast if they decide to sit out on the recitation of the pledge?

If they SIT IT OUT? I'd hope so!

I'm an American, I live in Mexico, and I still STAND when they play their national anthem with their flag waving. I don't sing it, I don't salute it, but I certainly don't remain seated. That's just respect for someone elses beliefs.

Children (or adults) that don't want to salute the flag or say the Pledge, fine. They should stand silently in respect of others belief, if not out of respect for the flag or the country. Sit down or conspicuously leave the room? I hope they'd receive the same treatment as I'd receive in Mexico if I did the same thing in the same situation.

Part of going to school isn't just saying the Pledge, and it's not just about making your own beliefs known. It is also learning how to act when confronted with other peoples' beliefs, and how to be respectful of that even when you don't agree.

Re:Pledge almost is the same as prayer in schools (1)

captain_craptacular (580116) | about 11 years ago | (#7213840)

The problem is that by saying it every day you are reinforcing that God is as important as country, which we are all supposed to believe is of utmost importance. Therefore kids who otherwise had no opinion will come to believe that God=Good, and this will happen in school. So in effect, the government just told them not only that they should be religious, but what religion (or what subset of religions) they should follow.

Re:Pledge almost is the same as prayer in schools (5, Insightful)

mshomphe (106567) | about 11 years ago | (#7213903)

This ties directly in to the Texas case (Santa Fe [] , I think). You may not have to recite the pledge (although in this case, I believe pledging was compulsory; please correct me if I'm wrong), but school property is being used to endorse a theistic viewpoint. Moreover, the message broadcast is that this is the position of the authorities.

What everyone must keep in mind is the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

I as an individual can profess my religious (non-)affiliations as much as I want. However, agents of the state cannot endorse or reject a religion while acting as said agents. Using school property to communicate a message with a distinctly theistic slant ("one nation, under God") is unconstitutional (again, see the Santa Fe v. Doe ruling). The state can't say one way or another about god (much in the way that Science should remain agnostic barring distinct evidence one way or another) unless it's in discussing religion in a neutral context. This doesn't mean that teachers can't pray, be religious, nor students; rather, you can't use public property or act on behalf of the government in a coercive way when doing it.

Not just for atheists... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7213740)

Aside from people who believe a supreme being does not exist, the phrase "under God" might as well offend people who are polytheists.

"under god" (4, Insightful)

physicsboy500 (645835) | about 11 years ago | (#7213741)

What I don't understand is why christians in general would get so upset when we want to take one line out to include all. Simply put I'm sure they would be as offended if we were to begin saying something like "under Bhudda" or "under no god" as some ppl are about saying "under god" in the first place. Times have changed, with them go the rules

The Way it Was (1)

Oculus Habent (562837) | about 11 years ago | (#7213813)

The biggest point to me is that it didn't always include "under God" - and the original version is still used by the US military (if I'm not mistaken)... why not use it in the classroom as well?

Re:"under god" (2, Insightful)

Nagatzhul (158676) | about 11 years ago | (#7213822)

America was formed on Christian principles, not Buddhist principles. It is a Christian country and it is defined and based on those assumptions. If you change that, then the assumptions loose their value. If you can change those assumptions, you can deny people their rights.

Re:"under god" (1)

FireBook (593941) | about 11 years ago | (#7213849)

at issue here is the refusal for certain parties to realise that the US 0f A is, like most western civilisations, a secular one when it comes to religion. They are unfortunately attempting to force the continuation of the policy of having their views, and their doctrine, onto the rest of the populace , in this case the populace of the future. This narrowminded, division causing viewpoint is sadly one that is mirrored in alot of religions.

Re:"under god" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7213855)

"under God" was added in 1954 to show that the US is not like those God-hating Commie Mutant Traitors (bad Paranoia reference, I know). "Taking out" might be correct, but it wasn't there in the first place.

Editors? (-1, Troll)

Acidic_Diarrhea (641390) | about 11 years ago | (#7213744)

Why can't michael leave the comments for the comment section? I thought that Decaffinated Jedi did a nice job of summarizing the issue at hand (without the need to insult CNN - which is an opinion and should be reserved for the comments section) without making his personal opinion known either way.

I mean, Slashdot stories have a comments section attached to them so that opinions may be voiced. But I guess michael's opinions are more important than the readers, right?

Re:Editors? (1)

helix400 (558178) | about 11 years ago | (#7213808)

Why can't michael leave the comments for the comment section? I guess michael's opinions are more important than the readers, right?

Exactly. Whether its modding down whole threads or posting editorial liberal stories...michael has frequently abuses his powers because to satisy his annoying activist needs.

Acidic Diarrhea, you've become the only person to ever move from my foes list straight to my friends list.

Typical michael (2, Insightful)

helix400 (558178) | about 11 years ago | (#7213747)

Gee michael.

I guess there's nothing left to comment on, since the story was more of a long editorial rant than a newspiece.


Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7213886)

at 6:47 PM EST, this comment was rated at +3.

Lets see how long before michael abuses his unlimited mod points to slap down this comment and others that dare criticize his selfish, soapbox rant.

Pledges (2, Interesting)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 11 years ago | (#7213750)

Pledges of this sort are not reprehensible because of the mention of deity.

Made compulsory, such a pledge is worthless, meaningless and a supression of intellectual activity. It represents a repudiation of Jeffersonian ideals, as embodied in the Declaration of Independance and U.S. Constitution.

Do we get to wear armbands, too?

Online Rights (5, Insightful)

IM6100 (692796) | about 11 years ago | (#7213752)

What does this have to do with online rights?

What does it have to do with anything Nerds are interested in?

It seems more like a topic for a civil libertarian blog.

I'm not saying the government is right or wrong. I'm just asserting this is off topic. Michael, can't you find another website to pound your drums on?

Re:Online Rights (1)

placeclicker (709182) | about 11 years ago | (#7213885)

You basicly answered your own question...
It seems more like a topic for a civil libertarian blog.
Guess who they're preaching to here. (They're an organized group of singers.)

Re:Online Rights (3, Funny)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | about 11 years ago | (#7213891)

Michael, can't you find another website to pound your drums on?

Sorry; there are no other blogs that will hire somebody that inept.

Re:Online Rights (2, Funny)

conner_bw (120497) | about 11 years ago | (#7213898)

Not interesting?! Somewhere, you just broke a young pre-pubescent mid-western nerd's heart. Somewhere, an 8 year old refusing the pledge is being called terrorist by their class mates and stonned to death, the old fashioned christian way! (or the new fashioned patriot act way!)


propagandistic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7213753)

Propagandistic? CNN? Never!

"You're telling me the Oscars are also political? f** off!"

One nation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7213756)

indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

There, was that so hard.

Fuck your God.

-An American.

Re:One nation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7213864)

You do realize you're going to hell, right?

Don't forget the old discussion (1)

miratim (532741) | about 11 years ago | (#7213763)

Before the flame war breaks out, read: l?tid=103 And then decide if you have something new to say.

Just to keep in mind... (1)

cliffy2000 (185461) | about 11 years ago | (#7213764)

The phrase "Under God" was not introduced until the 1950s in order to "protect" the nation from godless Communists.

Not getting the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7213765)

You guys are not getting the point. The constitution says that congress cannot make any law regarding the establishment of religion. It says nothing about whether we can have sayings or objects related to God it public places.

Required pledges (1)

Tyrdium (670229) | about 11 years ago | (#7213767)

I remember that... Back in 8th grade, about halfway through the year, the teachers said to us, "oh yeah, you guys are supposed to recite the pledge of allegiance every day." Most of the student body basically said, "what? Eh, f*ck it." We ended up doing it once, maybe twice, before the staff realized it was just a waste of time. :D

not your routine case (2, Informative)

supernova87a (532540) | about 11 years ago | (#7213768)

one interesting development already: Justice Scalia will take no part in the decision of the case. Apparently he recused himself following a request by the anti-pledge side in the case. Scalia has vocally defended the right to religious activity, and I guess he recognized that this might come across as having a predisposition to the outcome of the case.

Re:not your routine case (1)

Kaeru the Frog (152611) | about 11 years ago | (#7213870)

So what happens if there is a tie?

fuck AMERIKKKA!!!! (-1)

cmdr_shithead (527909) | about 11 years ago | (#7213770)


w000!))!1fason: Don't use so many caps. It's like cheese

weird case (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7213771)

The argument seems to be about whether this constitues government establishment of religion. No one bothers to question why we are *indoctrinating* our children with this mindless drivel.

Kids should be *taught* about their country and its history and left to decide on their own how they feel about it. In a supposedly free nation, we have MANY Congress members who think the pledge is the greatest thing since sliced bread. To me it just smacks of brainwashing children that we used to accuse the Soviet Union of.

The constitution says *exactly* two things.... (1)

JonBovi (599577) | about 11 years ago | (#7213776)

...about religion:

Article IV:
[...] no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

Amendment I:
*Congress* shall make no *law* respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

Anything else, such as "The treasury can't put _In God We Trust_ on the money!!!" isn't covered.

Re:The constitution says *exactly* two things.... (1)

Chris Parrinello (1505) | about 11 years ago | (#7213835)

Except that it required an act of Congress to put "In God We Trust" on our money...

This bothers me.. (2, Insightful)

SoIosoft (711513) | about 11 years ago | (#7213777)

I think at some point, the seperation of church and state goes a bit too far. Take the pledge as a whole, not word by word. It's not religious in nature; it's about the country and what it stands for. And what it stands are isn't forcing religion on people, but about freedom, liberty, and justice. Sometimes it gets a big silly, just like forcing the Ten Commandments out of the courtroom. Remember, the Ten Commandments is a very early and almost universally understood code of laws. Nobody would object if Hammurabi's Code was in the courtroom. Just because it mentions religion or God doesn't mean it's forcing religion on people. And remember, saying the pledge is voluntary, and after the first grade, I don't ever remember reciting it in class.

Re:This bothers me.. (1)

DAldredge (2353) | about 11 years ago | (#7213805)

It's the first 3 / 4 Commandments that some people have trouble with.

Re:This bothers me.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7213846)

"Under God" is definitely religious in nature. It is telling people that this country officially supports monotheism, and the constitution clearly says that the govt. cannot make *any* law establishing an authority on religion. That menas it has to be neutral. If Uncle Sam erected tablets in the court room with arguments refuting god written on them I would be equally outraged. You are forgetting that the first two commandments are specific religious commandments (thou shalt not have any gods before me, and thou shalt not make thee no molten gods are *definitely* religious commandments) and the government has no fucking business peddling that stuff in a court of law.

If all this doesn't convince you, consider this: would you want to keep the pledge the way it is if the phrase happened to be "one nation without god"?

Re:This bothers me.. (2, Insightful)

m0rph3us0 (549631) | about 11 years ago | (#7213912)

When you put quotes from other people regarding "God" on the monument to it becomes religious, if you put quotes on the monument regarding law then it becomes about history.

When the school requires students hear that the nation is under God it establishes religion, and infringes on the student's freedom from religion. If the pledge is ok then having a athiest teacher expouse the virtues of athiesm should be just as acceptable.

This is ridiculous... (1)

Jesse9 (667348) | about 11 years ago | (#7213785)

When I was in grade school, I refused to recite the pledge for various reasons. The administration threatened to suspend me, but after a few threats at law suits they calmed down. Everyone, even kids under 18, have the rights granted in the Bill of Rights.

So leave out "Under God" (1)

itsownreward (688406) | about 11 years ago | (#7213786)

I simply paused when the line "Under God" was recited while I was in school. I was true to myself, and nobody made a big fuss over it all.

Back then I was an atheist, but I wasn't a hostile atheist who spit on every religious practice that anyone had around me. Live and let live is a good phrase to live by most of the time. (Maybe growing up in the Bible belt had something to do with that, but then again, now I'm a Pagan and living in the Bible belt, so perhaps I'm just a glutton for punishment!)

Re:So leave out "Under God" (1)

placeclicker (709182) | about 11 years ago | (#7213858)

Nice to hear it, it seems like these days all athiests want relgion burned into the ground.

Your righs online? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7213787)

What does this have to do with online rights?


Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7213788)


Your Headline Reader Has Been Banned

You May Only Load Headlines Every 30 Minutes

In 72 Hours, Your Ban Will Be Lifted

Do Not Bother Contacting Us For 72 Hours

Nice commentary - nice and "misleading" (2, Informative)

javelinco (652113) | about 11 years ago | (#7213793)

The current laws on the books state the no student is required to recite the pledge. It does not state that the schools cannot set aside time to recite the pledge. Please be careful to not add any more spin to an already charged issue.

Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7213794)

Let the Republics/Religous Zealots/etc are evil comments begin! Whats the diffrence between an Athiest and an Agnostic? Agnostic's dont try to push a no-judgements policy and they don't viciously attack religions (especially christian ones)

No harm is done . . . (3, Interesting)

StyleChief (656649) | about 11 years ago | (#7213795)

It is unfortunate that zealots (on any side) have made such an issue out of what should be a non-issue. I recited the Pledge daily as a child and recall no misgivings. I am not an especially patriotic fellow nor anti-government. I am not an especially religious fellow nor anti-religion. It seems that it might be a good thing to give schoolchildren a few moments to think about potentially more important things for a few moments a day. In reality, it becomes routine, and virtually no thought is probably given by a child. But in retrospect, I rather miss those days. Be it God, Allah, or whatever name one chooses to use, it is ALL under a greater mind than ours.

Are schools on military bases 'public'? (1)

ArmedLemming (18042) | about 11 years ago | (#7213797)

When I was in elementary school on an air force base, not only did we have to recite the pledge, but we had to sing either 'This Land is Your Land', 'God Bless America', or 'America (the Beautiful)' too. The song was chosen by whichever student was chosen to lead the class in the pledge.

I wonder if military bases will be influenced by this (whichever way it goes)...

I Pledge... (0, Flamebait)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 11 years ago | (#7213799)

In school, we recited the following for years without detection or rebuke:

I pledge annoyance to the rag

And the divided fates of America

As to the republican rubber-band:

One nation, a plundered mob

With visible injustice for all.

Thank you very much. I'll be here all week, tell your friends.

Those Godless Commies (2, Informative)

shoemakc (448730) | about 11 years ago | (#7213802)

MSNBC (Yes I know, I'm too lazy to change my default home page...score one for MS) has this [] article with a little interesting tidbit at the end:

The phrase "under God" was not part of the original pledge adopted by Congress as a patriotic tribute in 1942, at the height of World War II. Congress inserted the phrase more than a decade later, in 1954, when the world had moved from hot war to cold.

Interesting that these contraversial two words where just an addition to seperate us from those "godless commies", no? Sounds on the whole rather silly now :-/


Freedom *of* religion. (1, Flamebait)

Atzanteol (99067) | about 11 years ago | (#7213804)

Before people start throwing around 'separation of church and state' and freedom of religion, remember that it's freedom *of* religion, not freedom *from* religion. Some groups want the pledge outlawed because it mentions God (heaven forbid!), others want it madatory for the same reason.

Personally, as a heathen (unbaptised agnostic if you will), I don't care. I said it as a child, and it hasn't ruined my life. Nor have I felt the government was forcing religion on me. The pledge is to the US, and our way of life. Not to God. I think the pledge should be said. Perhaps the bit about God removed though (I never understood it myself).

Re:Freedom *of* religion. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7213876)

But isn't lack of religion definable as "a religion"?

Just like off is a setting, just like on.

So really, it is forcing this superstitious God bullshit on non-theistic individuals.

Re:Freedom *of* religion. (1)

LineNoiz (616971) | about 11 years ago | (#7213887)

Hence the lawsuit. It is not about removing the pledge, it is about removing TWO FREAKIN WORDS that don't belong in there.

Under God is True (0, Insightful)

carlcmc (322350) | about 11 years ago | (#7213806)

This is not a troll nor a flame it is my opinion, and similar to millions of Americans.

This country was founded "under God". It was founded by those who could not worship God because of persecution. There i s n o d e b a t e about this. This is history. If you disagree, return to your history classes. This phrase in no way establishes a state religion. This simply recognizes what has happened. The prohibition of state and religion is not that it cannot be reccognized. It is a prohibition of establishing a religion BY THE STATE and ENFORCED BY THE STATE that all most adhere to.

You are free to worship some buddha or something, but that does not change what this nation is. A nation founded by people seeking to worship God free from persecution.

Re:Under God is True (1)

tc (93768) | about 11 years ago | (#7213889)

As others have mentioned, the phrase "under God" was a 1950s addition to the Pledge that was not present in the original wording. So your historical argument is shaky at best.

The Constitution outlaws state religion, and enforces the separation of Church and State. If there are laws which require State institutions (in this case schools) to lead citizens in recitals including religious phrases, then those laws are clearly un-Constitutional. That's what this case is about.

Not accurate (1)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | about 11 years ago | (#7213905)

Although the Puritans were early settlers, they did not "found" the United States of America. They founded a British colony. They were happy to be British. They brought Redcoats with them.

The premise of the founding of this nation had little to do with religious freedom and everything to do with political and more precisely economic freedom.

pledge wrong, but not because of religion (1)

jadavis (473492) | about 11 years ago | (#7213816)

The way I see the first amendment is that Congress shouldn't recognize religion at all. Congress doesn't need to protect religion, freedom itself protects religion (except for religions that involve sacrificing virgins, etc, which we don't want anyway).

The question that people should be asking is: why are we making kids stand up and recite something in the first place? Teachers should be presenting facts and explaining concepts (hopefully in a balanced way, but that's hard to enforce), not encouraging partiotism.

Forget the Pledge of Allegiance... (2, Funny)

gcalvin (325380) | about 11 years ago | (#7213817)

...and let the kids recite the Gettysburg Address. It's more stirring, it has a better pedigree, and it's not a Loyalty Oath. Oh, it's still got that "nation under God" phrase? Darn. How about just reciting the national motto, "In God we trust"? No good? Sing the national anthem? Well, the first verse is okay, since it's mostly about stuff getting blowed up, but suppose somebody notices that the later verses invoke the Almighty? Can't have that, can we? I know! Let's teach our kids what's really important in today's America, and have them recite the Microsft EULA. They should be able to get through it in time for lunch.

As a European.. (1)

wfberg (24378) | about 11 years ago | (#7213818)

I've always thought pledging allegiance to some flag is a bit quaint. It makes no sense. And pledging allegiance to your country each and every day.. doesn't that strike you folks as a bit forced? A bit nationalistic? More the sort of thing schoolkids in China or North-Korea would have to do, rather than kids in a democratic country?

Ow, and the "under God" thing. Well, the US were kinda founded by people who didn't appreciate having religion forced through their throats, so it's only courtesy to, well, do unto others..

But it's the daily reciting thing that creeps me out most anyway - whatever the content of the stuff being recited, really..

Re:As a European.. (1)

OldFart58 (663547) | about 11 years ago | (#7213906)

It creeps out a lot of Americans, as well (myself included - though perhaps because I'm an agnostic, patriotic veteran - still have my dog tags, with the religion stamped as 'other' [the only relevant option available at the time]).

But, 'creeping folks out' in the way and for the reasons you describe is kinda the point - someone finally pushed the issue (the Moral Majority is neither, IMO) and now it's going in front of the Supreme Court - kudos to those responsible.

OldFart 8-)

Establishment of religion (1)

miyako (632510) | about 11 years ago | (#7213827)

I think this whole thing is quite ridiculous(?) honestly.
As I understand, "In God We Trust" was not part of the original pledge and was added sometime in the 50's, sort of a way to spite the 'godless commies' or something to that effect. In this respect I don't see anything wrong with putting it back the way it was before that, but really the whole argument seems pointless to me.
I remember in grade school saying the pledge every morning, and I also remember not getting in trouble for not saying it (at the time I was refusing to say it just trying to be a pain in the ass), and there was no real fuss made.
The thing is, most students from what I remember, just drone through the pledge without really knowing what they are even saying.
If you want to talk about promoting of religion in schools, I think the pledge is a bad example to give, what about all the christmas breaks, coloring pictures of santa, memorizing 'twas the night before christmas, singing silent night, etc. Things may have changed since I was in grade school, but that hasn't been very many years ago (I'm 19) and we were still doing all of those things then.

Much Ado About Nothing (1)

SeattleGameboy (641456) | about 11 years ago | (#7213833)

Read the reasoning for accepting this case more carefully. It is clear that the Supremes have no desire to decide whether or not "Under God" phrase should be included in the Pledge.

They took this case on an appeal based on whether or not the father had the legal standing to bring this case about (he is divorced and the wife has the custody - and she has no problem with the pledge).

In all likely case, the Supremes will throw this case out and rule that the father had no right to bring this case forward, and avoid whether or not "Under God" is valid.

Do you seriously think Scalia would recuse himself voluntarily if they were actually going to decide whether or not religious phrases should be included in a public display? NOT!!!

Just remember (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7213838)

It's freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion.

Michael, why is this on Slashdot? (0, Offtopic)

pjl5602 (150416) | about 11 years ago | (#7213843)

What exactly does this have to do with "News for Nerds, Stuff That Matters"?

Nationalistic dogma IS official US religion (1)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | about 11 years ago | (#7213844)

How can you distinguish church and state in this country? The state IS the church. Not since Nazi Germany have people tied a victim complex with an inherent sense of infallibility together so closely (despite mountains of evidence taking the nation beyond fallibility to straight out complicity).

If this nation were truly interested in liberty there would not be a dogmatic phrase at all. If students wish to burn the flag every morning in the parking lot they should be allowed to. Its their country too. Its their flag too. You don't own their opinion or free will or right to act towards the symbols of statehood as they see fit.

In most other nations this is not an issue as state worship is not the national religion.

The pledge and school (1)

Greg@RageNet (39860) | about 11 years ago | (#7213845)

The first amendment on religion
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

As for this slashdot comentary, I think if a student recited the pledge out of the blue in the middle of a lesson they'd be disrupting the class. I mean if we are going to stop doing the pledge because it's got the words 'under god', then should we change the pledge? Should we remove 'in god we trust' from our currency? Do we stop swearing in government officials with a bible?

The argument could be made that by banning the pledge from schools and the words 'god' from we are making a law respecting the establishment of the religion of athiesm.

-- Greg ( -- agnostic )

Ridiculous Notions (1)

jazman_777 (44742) | about 11 years ago | (#7213853)

One, that the nation is indivisible, by order of God. Sheesh, the nation was formed by way of a division.

Two, Christians earnestly wanting the "under God" part in there. Sheesh, Christians pledging their allegiance to a Caesar! But, but, but, it's God's Chosen Caesar [tm], so it's OK!

Note: I am a Christian. For Christians I recommend a reading of Ernest Tuveson's _Redeemer Nation_, which gets to the bottom of the heretical view of America as Messiah Nation, of which the Pledge is a small part.

News for Nerds? (1)

no_nicks_available (463299) | about 11 years ago | (#7213854)

Stuff that matters?

Not on michael's /!

This has absolutely NOTHING to do with technology and shouldn't even be here.

I pledge... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7213857)

allegiance to flag of the united gates of america.
And to the monoculture, for which it stands.
One Operating System, under god.
With blue screens and DLL hell for all.

They should shorten it anyway (1)

Vyce (697152) | about 11 years ago | (#7213861)

Shorten to: I pledge allegiance to the United States of America and to the republic for which it stand, one nation, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. I hated saying the pledge...pledge to a flag? WTF for? It's a waving piece of useless cloth. You should pledge to your nation regardless of if the flag is a dish towel. And who gives a shit about the under God part anyway, it's under dollar signs. /disenfranchised

Nationalism Sucks (1)

Master Bait (115103) | about 11 years ago | (#7213863)

The flag sucks. Christianity is stupid.

Will I end up either in jail or in another country?

Re:Nationalism Sucks (1)

GMFTatsujin (239569) | about 11 years ago | (#7213909)

Today we have a special: If you're an American citizen and declared an enemy combatant, you could end up as BOTH!

Do not think or depression may occur.

Have we already forgotten our forefathers? (1)

eviltypeguy (521224) | about 11 years ago | (#7213867)

Have we already forgotten the words of our forefathers?

Our first president recognized this quite clearly:
"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness...reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."
- George Washington's farewell address, 1796

He knew that is impossible to claim morality while excluding religious principle. He also realized that without God it is impossible to rightly govern:
"It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible."
- George Washington

John Adams also recognized this:
"Statesmen may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue."
- John Adams

Even Patrick Henry who once said "Give me liberty or give me death!" was even noted to recognize the importance of God in our society:
"It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ! For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here."
- Patrick Henry

The very freedoms we have today are centered around the principles of their faith. Man is given a choice every day to choose whom he serves.

Without God in our society the worst will happen, William Penn put it best:
"Those people who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants."
- William Penn

no no no (1)

nizo (81281) | about 11 years ago | (#7213868)

...the inclusion of the phrase 'under God' in the pledge..

It's Zod. Seriously though, why can't we just change the pledge to keep up with the times? Maybe instead something like, "one nation, mindlessly consuming, with liberty and SUVs for all"?

Amercan Pride!!!!!1one (0)

Cmdr Adolf Torvalds (715885) | about 11 years ago | (#7213869)

Yuo r so rong! Amerca is teh centar of teh universe!!!!1one U r luky 2 b living in teh USA (9/11 nevar ferget) so u shud b prowd 2 b Amercan. Y do u guys hav 2 b anti-amercan?!? Mi Dad sayss peopol die for tihs country evry day and we shud b proud 2 liv in the land of the free. R u guyz Comunists or sumthin? My revarand say taht USA is #1 bcuz God made it so an we r 1 nation undar God and all that. I think it shud b a conistutiunal law 2 hav a bible in ur hous bcuz we r a nation under God. Wat is the prblm wiht saying teh pledge of alegance or having "One nation unedr God" on r money? Amercan Pride!!!!11one USA USA USA USA USA USA

Mountain vs Molehill (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | about 11 years ago | (#7213872)

I mean really, is this so big a concern? So you don't like saying the pledge with god references, TAKE THEM OUT. You don't like saying the pledge at all? DON'T.

See how simple that is?

Establishment of religion (1)

Alien54 (180860) | about 11 years ago | (#7213873)

As seen at this atheist site [] :

At the time of our Revolution, nine of our thirteen colonies had state-established churches, Congregational in the North and Anglican in the South. They overlapped, with no apparent understanding of the contradiction, with the eight new states who adopted Jefferson's clause, which he had proposed for his home Virginia, that granted freedom of religion, "according to the dictates of conscience." Jefferson's own Virginia did not embrace this language until ten years later. Freedom of religion was an emerging idea and even where the language of secularism took hold, the reality was more difficult.

All states had some religious restrictions. Even Pennsylvania, the state most Americans think of as the leader in religious liberty, required those in public office to swear that the Old and New Testaments were divinely inspired.

On reflection, none of this should surprise us. Many of our settlers had been religious fanatics England had sent away. Their descendants not only lacked modern travel and communication advances, about half lacked basic literacy. The Deists, prominent among our founding fathers, were a tiny minority among the populace or even the leaders at the state level. Catholics wisely stayed in Maryland, which had been established for them.

The admendment to the constitution says "Congress shall make no law" - The state churches sort of disappeared when the 14th(?) admendment passed with it's clause of equal protoection under the law.

Which is the knotty point. Can there be equal protection under the law if you allow for relgious statements? My take is that you can havc equal protection under the law, such as in criminal matters without kowtowing to every nit who gets his noise into a twist because I whisper the word "god".

Being worried about every possible cause of personal insult and offence is not equal protection, not for me.

In fact, the atheist is making arguments to enfarce atheism as the religion of the USA. Which is just as bad as the other choices.

God's Pals (5, Insightful)

Viking Coder (102287) | about 11 years ago | (#7213874)

It's always amazing to me how much people think that God needs defending.

Your relationship with God is the only important thing in the universe, and you don't need a government to tell you how to have a good relationship with your deity.

And I don't need the government telling me how to have a good relationship with your deity. And you don't need the government telling you how to have a good relationship with my deity.

Our country is also strong enough to not have to declare that it exists through God's will. We made it, not God. The prophet George Washington didn't see a burning bush that implored him to lead his soldiers across the Delaware.

Our nation, like every human institution, is fallible. The more we bring God into it, the less we respect him, our nation, and ourselves.

God might help you make your personal choices, but you make bad decisions, too. Giving God the credit for your successes, and taking personal blame for your failures is dehumanizing to you and everyone else, and it leads to both a sense of false security (in your bad decisions), and false insecurity (questioning your relationship with God, just because you messed up.)

P.S. - if this comment pissed you off, then contemplate living in a country that forces you to worship a God that you don't believe in. Now, recognize that's exactly what you're asking other people to do in America. It's not YOUR country - it's OUR country. And the only way we can all get along, is to keep separate our personal and political worlds.

You have your personal relationship with your God, I have my personal relationship with my God - and the laws of this land should not give either one of us preferential treatment.

God != America

Speaking should be a crime (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7213879)

I think we should make it a crime to say the word God at all. Because just by saying it, someone could hear and be offended, and oppressed by the current religious majority. Then society would crumble and fall just because someone had the nerve to put God in a sentence.

Wow, Michael, editorialize much? (1)

RasputinAXP (12807) | about 11 years ago | (#7213880)

I guess it's time to burn some karma.

Not "in theory" but "by law" a student cannot be penalized for not saying the Pledge. Well known in most high schools across the country, that; I didn't say it in high school nor did most of my friends, and nobody took any notice.

Where you failed to RTF'nA is that this is not a student saying "I was penalized for not wanting to say the pledge." Ergo, here's some relevant text (bolding mine):
In the Pledge of Allegiance case, Michael Newdow, an atheist, sued the Sacramento County, California, school district where his daughter attended, saying that
teacher-led recitation by students violates his 9-year-old child's religious liberty.

Legal precedent makes reciting the pledge a voluntary act, but Newdow argues it is unconstitutional for students to be forced to hear it, saying the teacher-led recitations carry the stamp of government approval.

"I believe in the Constitution," Newdow told CNN last year. "The Constitution says that government isn't supposed to be infusing religion into our society, and so I asked to have that upheld."

Forced to hear it? You've really got to be kidding me, here. I heard a lot of things I disagreed with, even when I was nine, and even worse, his daughter had nothing to do with it other than being a stepping stone for him to sue, as per the CNN article [] (again, bolding mine):
Neville: At what point did your daughter come home to you and say she was ostracized for not saying the Pledge of Allegiance?

Newdow: My daughter is in the lawsuit because you need that for standing. I brought this case because I am an atheist and this offends me, and I have the right to bring up my daughter without God being imposed into her life by her schoolteachers. So she did not come and say she was ostracized.

Neville: Why do you think that it wasn't enough just to tell your daughter, "It's OK not to say this if you don't want to say this, if you don't believe this"?

Newdow: I believe in the Constitution. The Constitution says that government isn't supposed to be infusing religion into our society, and so I asked to have that upheld.

Hrm. let's look at the Bill of Rights...

Amendment I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Boil it down. There will be no state religion, no laws saying "you can't worship this god or that one" (qv. Church of Satan, etc) you can't make a law abolishing freedom of speech (qv. CDA, CIPA, etc), and you can't keep the people from assembling peacefully.

Beautiful dichotomy we live in, here: In God We Trust, but Novuum Ordo Seculorum.

I may not agree with what you say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.

Likely to fail on technicality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7213881)

All the noisy rhetoric aside, I think it's most likely that the appeal will fail due to a technicality: there's a good chance the father has no standing. Several articles say that he didn't have custody of the child at the time of the original lawsuit.

Key Point ... "Under God" added by congress (1)

Jboy_24 (88864) | about 11 years ago | (#7213890)

The key point here, and the reason the Supreme Court will decide in favor of the Ninth Circuit, is that until congress added "Under God", that phrase was not used when reciting the pledge.

The constituion has simple yet direct and literally applicatble language, when it states " Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion". Congress made a law that established the Christian Religion as the defacto religion by enforcing "Under God" to be added. Its a simple as that.

An easy test case would be if the words "Under Allah" were to replace "Under God", would this not establish Islam in preference over Christianity? How does it not work the other way?

Most frustratingly, the solution is very simple. Remove "Under God" and put the pledge back to what it said before it was changed. Then, if people choose to say "Under God", which is their right, they can. There is no law, I believe, that gives any penalty to saying a pledge that might be different then the established norm.

To the people objecting to the removal, what is your logic? The history of "Under God" is very recent so it can't be an appeal to tradition. The only thing I can think of, is you wish to evangelize your religion.

Much better from the Washington Post (1)

Decaffeinated Jedi (648571) | about 11 years ago | (#7213892)

A much better article from [] :
Supreme Court Weighs 'Under God' Reference in Pledge
Justice Scalia Recuses Himself; Could Lead to a 4-4 Split Decision

By Charles Lane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 14, 2003; 1:07 PM

The Supreme Court announced today that it will attempt to settle the legal battle over the Pledge of Allegiance -- but without the participation of one of its most conservative justices.

The court said it would consider whether the Constitution's ban on official establishment of religion prohibits Elk Grove Unified School District near Sacramento, Calif., from asking children to recite the pledge, which includes the phrase "one Nation, under God."

The court will also consider whether lower courts were correct in giving Michael A. Newdow, the atheist activist who sued to stop the pledge from being recited in his daughter's school, the legal right to bring the case in the first place.

But, in a surprise move, Justice Antonin Scalia recused himself from the case, leaving only eight justices to hear arguments and reach a judgment. In the event of a 4-4 tie vote, the ruling of the San Francisco-based federal appeals court that struck down the pledge in schools would stand.

Scalia offered no public explanation for his unusual and unexpected decision, but Newdow filed papers with the court last month, asking for Scalia's recusal based on the fact that the justice had spoken critically of the appeals court's ruling at a January 13 Knights of Columbus-sponsored religious freedom rally in Virginia.

"Under such circumstances . . . one might reasonably question his impartiality," Newdow wrote.

Scalia's recusal is a big victory for Newdow in a case that began in March 2000, when Newdow, who has argued the entire matter personally in the lower courts and plans to do so at the Supreme Court, filed a lawsuit in a California federal court.

He argued first that the 1954 federal law amending the pledge to include "under God" was unconstitutional, and second that a California law requiring teachers to lead their classes in the pledge each day imposed an unconstitutional sectarian observance on him and his daughter, an elementary school student.

Newdow's claim that the pledge itself is unconstitutional was upheld in June 2002, by a 2 to 1 vote of a three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

But after the ensuing public outcry, the panel modified its ruling, issuing a new opinion last February that bars the recitation of the pledge in schools throughout the 9th Circuit, which encompasses nine western states, rather than invalidating the pledge as such.

It has long been impermissible to require individual students to recite the pledge, but the 9th Circuit ruled that Newdow's constitutional rights, and those of his daughter, were infringed merely by having to stand by as a state-sponsored religious ritual took place.

The case is Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, No. 02-1624. Oral argument will take place at the court early in 2004, and a decision is expected by July.

It's interesting that Scalia would sit this one out.

irony in micheal's comments (1)

dextr0us (565556) | about 11 years ago | (#7213894)

The CNN article's emphasis on voluntariness -- "whether schoolchildren can be allowed to recite the Pledge voluntarily" -- is grossly misleading, almost propagandistic.

Kind of like not letting people decide if an article is propagandistic on their own.... i mean make a comment as yourself because i don't think a lot of people understand that the news is cnn posting that, not your interpretation of the news.

Michael needs to get his facts straight. (1)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | about 11 years ago | (#7213896)

The CNN article's emphasis on voluntariness -- "whether schoolchildren can be allowed to recite the Pledge voluntarily" -- is grossly misleading, almost propagandistic. Most states have laws requiring the pledge to be recited every day as a class activity, and these are the laws in question.

What the hell is Michael smoking here? They are not "the laws in question" They are going to decide on a California law. It may have precedence elsewhere at some other time. Michael should be either canned or at least forced to disclose that he is *obviously* not a lawyer.

A commentary from the other side of the pond (1)

darth_silliarse (681945) | about 11 years ago | (#7213900)

So what do I comment on? The authors opinion or the article in question? First off I'll comment on the article... here in the UK none of our class children have to undergo such brainwashing so I can only give you my opinion on the POA (pledge of alliegence). I think asking a 6 year old child to speak highly of a piece of material on a stick with 50 stars and a couple of stripes on it is a little too Monty Pythonish for me... I find it rather silly and if I saw an Iraqi doing it I'd probably wet myself. As for the author, well his opinion his is own. As my old dad use to say, "Son, opinions are like arseholes. Others stink but your own don't smell so bad"

Simple soultion...drop "God" reference (1)

frdmfghtr (603968) | about 11 years ago | (#7213902)

Seeing as how the phrase "under God" was added in the 1950s in response to the spread of "unholy" Communism, why not drop the phrase? It's not original, was added for purely political reasons, and can solve a lot of asinine problems if it is simply removed.

Liberal Nut Cases (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7213904)

/. is so pathetic anymore. A bunch of 20 somethings trying to live in a dream world imparted on them while they were not stoned at college.

Keep religion out of Public School Classrooms (1)

leftie (667677) | about 11 years ago | (#7213910)

I was brought up Catholic down South. It seems Catholics are "pagans" according to Evangelical Christians (statues in Catholic Churches are false idols it seems), and I heard plenty about me being a "pagan" in my public school classrooms as I was growing up. Any excuse to mention "God" or religion is taken by many in the educational system in the South as an opening to practice their evangelical work in the classroom. We spent more time in our weekly CYO church classes asking thing like why people we calling us pagans then we did on anything to do with being Catholic. Although I don't practice any religion anymore, in looking back I recognize what a problem those preaching public school teachers created for me and others who were not a member of the predominant faith. It's one of those "give them an inch and they take a mile" issues. If the door is left cracked open to any religious discussion at all, they burst the door open and dump their whole evangelical agenda on the students. Keep the religion out of the schools. Use the time for what it should be used for... reading, writing, and 'rithmatic.

Wha... (1)

shift82 (711939) | about 11 years ago | (#7213911)

At my high school all the students tend either to be too much of one of three things to say the pledge:

1)Too Hungover
2)Too High
3)Too Tired

Most just tend to ignore the pledge.

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