Stand up for secular values, FFRF urges Sen. Ossoff

Jon OssoffDo not lead this country further away from its secular roots, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is admonishing one of the recently elected senators from Georgia.

Sen. Jon Ossoff presided over a nearly empty Senate chamber in late July while it adopted by unanimous consent Senate Resolution 309, which praised the inclusion of the addition of “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. This was a historically inaccurate and divisive resolution, FFRF contends, which should not have been approved, much less in this manner.

“SR 309 camouflages itself as an innocuous affirmation of the Pledge of Allegiance,” FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor write to Ossoff. “However, there are a number of clear falsehoods, historical exaggerations and constitutionally incorrect assumptions in the text of the resolution that taint it and should preclude it from receiving unanimous support in the future.”

First, the resolution claims that “many” of the Founders of the United States were “deeply religious.” However, the major Founders, including Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin and Hamilton, were either openly skeptical, dismissive of religion or deeply private about their personal convictions. In fact, the Framers of the Constitution were first among nations to adopt a godless and entirely secular Constitution, whose only references to religion are exclusionary and which bars a religious test for public office.

Second, SR 309 glorifies the “60 years” that the Pledge has acknowledged the United States as a union established “under God” and claims a “secular purpose” for the use of that phrase. That supposed secular purpose is a false pretense created during the Cold War. Congress added the words “under God” at the height of McCarthyism.

Finally, and most significantly, the constitutionality of “under God” in the Pledge remains dubious and suspect, and its continued presence does not reflect the changing religious demographics and diversity of the United States. Nonreligious Americans are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population by religious identification — 35 percent of Americans are non-Christians, and this includes the more than one in four Americans now identifying as religiously unaffiliated.

Whole generations of schoolchildren have been miseducated, thanks to the tampering with the original secular Pledge, to falsely equate religiosity with patriotism, FFRF underscores. And the harm of pledging a secular nation to a particular god extends beyond mere miseducation. With this un-American addition, our public schools have been dividing children along religious lines, cleaving classrooms into groups who adhere to this Christian vision of the United States and those who don’t.

It would actually be a sign of strength, FFRF suggests, when “the world’s greatest deliberative body” is willing to re-examine the past and turn the country back to a path of constitutional and secular values. The addition of the words “under God” in 1954 quite literally divided “one Nation” from “indivisible” — and has helped maintain religious divisiveness ever since.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 35,000 members and several chapters across the country, including over 500 members and a chapter in Georgia. FFRF protects the constitutional separation between state and church and educates the public about nontheism.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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