U.S. House Sells Out Constitution in “Under God” Vote

Seven Who Vote Nay” Deserve Thanks

(Madison, WI) The Freedom From Religion Foundation praised the integrity of the seven members of the U.S. House who opposed today’s House vote condemning the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision against “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance.

House Resolution 132 urges the Attorney General to appeal the decision, and indirectly orders the President to nominate and the Senate to confirm to the federal circuit only those who support keeping “God” in the Pledge of Allegiance.

The House voted 400-7 today, with 15 voting “present,” to pass the pro-religious pledge resolution–the second such resolution passed by the House since last summer.

The seven voting “nay” are: Reps. Jerrold Nadler, D-NY; Robert Scott, D-VA; Jim McDermott, D-WA; Pete Stark and Mike Honda, D-CA; Gary Ackerman, D-NY, and Barney Frank, D-MA.

“The fact that this vote, showing lockstep religious conformity in the House, would be taken on the first day of the U.S. attack against Iraq is not an augur of good times for civil liberties,” commented Anne Gaylor.

Sixty-three members of Congress sponsored the resolution. The 15 members of Congress who simply voted “present” are: Reps. Frank Ballance, NC; Howard Berman, CA; Earl Blumenauer, OR; Michael E. Capuano, MA; John Conyers, Jr., MI; William Delahunt, MA; Maurice Hinchey, NY; Zoe Lofgren, CA; George Miller, CA; John Olver, MA; Donald M. Payne, NJ; Sanchez, Linda T., CA; Jan Schakowsky, IL; Maxine Waters, CA; and Mel Watt, NC.

The Senate previously voted, 94-0 on March 4, to “strongly disapprove” of the Feb. 28 decision by the full appeals court not to reconsider the ruling declaring the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance to be unconstitutional. The case was brought by Michael Newdow, M.D., a California father and attorney who represented himself in the case.

“These resolutions show utter contempt for the separation of powers,” said Gaylor, who pointed out both houses of Congress have now voted on the case even before the appeal has been accepted by the Supreme Court or before briefs have been filed.

The long resolution insists that “the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag is not a prayer or statement of religious faith, and its recitation is not a religious exercise, but rather, it is a patriotic exercise in which one expresses support for the United States and pledges allegiance to the flag, the principles for which the flag stands, and the Nation.”

“This insults the rights of freethinkers, by linking patriotism with piety. And it insults intelligence to claim a daily ritualized recitation to a deity by a captive audience of school children is not a religious exercise!” Gaylor said.

“We consider those who honor the U.S. Constitution, and its all-important principle of separation of church and state, to be the true patriots,” she added.

The Pledge of Allegiance, as it was originally written in 1892 and recited for generations, did represent a patriotic exercise, Gaylor noted. “The 9th Circuit got it right when it overturned the religious tampering by Congress in 1954, when ‘under God’ was first added.”

While claiming that “God” is not a religious expression, the House resolution then states that “the phrase ‘one Nation, under God,’. . . reflects that religious faith was central to the Founding Fathers and thus to the founding of the Nation.”

The resolution further claims the 9th Circuit ruling would jeopardize the “voluntary recitation by public school students of numerous historical and founding documents,” including the U.S. Constitution.

“One can only imagine the 400 U.S. Representatives who approved this wording do not realize that our Constitution is a godless document!” Gaylor said.

“There is an educational value in learning about the Declaration of Independence or reciting the Gettysburg address which is in no way equivalent to a daily chant expressing belief in a God and tying it to good citizenship.”

Gaylor urged the membership of the Freedom From Religion Foundation to contact their members of Congress to express their dismay over the passage of this resolution, to educate them about the First Amendment, and to thank those who opposed it or abstained.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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