Pledge Sanity (August 2002)

Below are excerpts of some of the thoughtful commentaries on the 9th Circuit decision tempering the hysterical outbursts against it:

“The ‘Under God’ addition, by identifying patriotism with religion, excludes agnostics, atheists and all believers in some deity or deities other than the Christian God. Nor does the ‘under God’ addition meet Theodore Roosevelt’s test of promoting reverence and appealing to high emotions. Doubtless all the crooks in the corporate community have recited the pledge without notably improving their conduct.”–Arthur Schlesinger Jr. (“When Patriotism Wasn’t Religious,” New York Times, July 7, 2002)

“The soundness of the decision is best revealed when it is measured against the objections to it. Prominent politicians, rather than offering reasoned responses to a challenging constitutional question, merely came up with sound bites condemning what they knew was an unpopular decision.” –Westchester News Editoral, NY ( June 28, 2002)

“Religion and devotion to God should, like St Paul’s charity, not be puffed up. God does not reward the loudest voice. Moreover, the ‘under God’ inclusion in the pledge is, as the much-maligned majority in the Ninth Federal Circuit ruled, unconstitutional.”–Phil Donahue, (MSNBC premiere, July 15, 2002)

“The response to the court’s decision exposed the fundamentalism that weaves through American public life, where many . . . confuse the worship of God with patriotism. . . . praise these two appeal judges–Alfred Goodwin and Stephen Reinhardt–for rendering a gutsy decision and for flushing American faundamentalism into the open.”–Nation columnist David Corn (“I Pledge Allegiance to Fundamentalism in the United States of America. . .”,, July 16, 2002)

“Those two words went into the pledge nearly 50 years ago, and for the most deplorable reason. . . . the pledge had become yet another cold-war litmus test. The words ‘under God’ were a way to indicate that America was better than other nations–we were, after all, under the direct protection of the deity–and adding them to the pledge was another way of excluding, of saying that believers were real Americans and skeptics were not. 
   7 “. . . what was embarrassing was watching all those people–Republicans, Democrats, liberals, conservatives–shout ‘under God’ on the Senate floor, as though government were a pep rally and they were on the sanctified squad. . . . [Now our nation] settles for sloganeering, demonizing and politicking.”–Anna Quindlen (“Indivisible? Wanna Bet?” The Last Word, Newsweek, July 15, 2002)

“. . . before they trampled one another on the way to the TV cameras, a lot of the congressional Bible-thumpers who rose to the pledge’s defense were busy making the world safe for the likes of Enron and WorldCom.”–Brian Dickerson (“Getting it Straight,” Detroit Free Press, June 28, 2002)

Freedom From Religion Foundation