I really hate to waste precious time on something that's as trivial as the Pledge of Allegiance. In the end, what happens or doesn't happen to it will have no bearing on myself or any lasting impact on others.
However, since the entire nation seems to have lost it's marbles on the issue and the media is showing an extreme bias on the subject, someone has to be the voice of reason on the issue and in lieu of someone better equipped, I'll agree to give it a shot.
According to a recent survey, a full 70% of the population is in favor of keeping the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. This is a striking coincidence because, while statistics vary, the number of people who are Christian in the United States seems to hover between 70 and 80 percent.
On the flip side of the coin, 19% of the population is opposed to its inclusion (the remaining 11% were neutral or gave no answer), while roughly 28% of people either don't believe in God at all or have non-traditional views about what God is or is not. This leaves roughly 72% of the population with the traditional views of a God that is conscious, all knowing, all-powerful and all controlling.
The American public is playing a very dangerous game. The vast majority of people are either supporting or condemning the inclusion of the words not on the basis of if it is right or if it is constitutional, but if it supports their personal beliefs.
It's dangerous not because it threatens to spark a religious war or divide the nation (though it does), but because it's one of the many times in American history that the majority has been dead wrong. The fact is, when the 9th court of appeals said that the words "Under God" were unconstitutional, they hit upon something that amazingly no one recognized, that God is inherently Christian and to include his name in the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States of America is, my default, to endorse a religion.
Luckily for the nearly 30% of the American populace that doesn't accept the Judeo-Christian concept of a higher power, the constitution provides a clause that creates a separation between church and state. This forces governments hand out of issues dealing with religion guarantees that everyone, regardless of beliefs, will be granted the same protection from the law.
The church and state clause is a critical one and it's one of the major principles this nation was founded upon. The fact is that public schools are government controlled and that teachers and administrators are government officials. Having either of them utter the words "Under God," outside of a purely informational sense or having any official oath contain those words, violates that clause. It's cut and dry, there's no way around it and just because the majority of people happen to believe in something, doesn't mean it should be forced upon the minority.
The hypocrisy of the issue is that while it's all well and good to pledge allegiance to a God that nearly three-quarters of the people believe in, if the roles were reversed and the pledge included "Under Allah" or "Under No God" the same people who are cheering for "Under God" now would be storming the White House demanding separation of church and state.
We're in a society where you can request any text you want to swear on when you give an oath in court and the government is not allowed to tax any church that so requests it but only one God and one faith is good enough for the Pledge, for our money and for our oaths of office.
The hypocrisy of the government on the issue of church and state is truly staggering. With one hand we give praise to God in our Pledge, hold Christian prayers before government meetings and even incorporate God into every dollar bill printed, but with the other we ban him from our classrooms, restrict his influence on government and even tout being a secular state.
Some say we need to decide if we are going to become a truly secular nation or a truly Christian one. However, there is no decision to be made because it was made when the Constitution was signed. We are America, we are a nation that observes separation between church and state and while we respect the rule of the majority, we have many protections for minorities and this is one of them.
Think about it, is a Muslim not an American because he would pledge to "One Nation, Under Allah," instead of "Under God?" What of the atheist who doesn't believe in a God? Is he not an American? It's diversity that makes this country so great and to exclude over one-fourth of our population from pledging allegiance to it properly, simply because they don't agree with the majority, goes against everything that this nation stands for.
However, many people still deny that. They say that we as a nation need to turn to God in these difficult times and the media seems to have landed firmly on that side. One political cartoon even went as far as to show a plane flying into the World Trade Center with the caption "See, all along I knew you were a nation of Godless infidels."
While this political cartoon makes me sick for a variety of reasons, it never answers some very tough questions. How does having the words "Under God" make us a better nation? Will it make our people more religious? Will it turn around the decades of decline in the Christian faith? Will it make us a more moral people or somehow give us guidance?
The answer to all of these questions is of course "No." Having those words in the pledge will do nothing to change America's "Moral Crisis" as some people call it (think about it, it started and progressed with "Under God" intact, why would leaving it in help fix it?), but it alienates over a quarter of the population, clearly violates the separation between church and state and tramples over what this nation is really about, not giving praise to God, but giving praise to freedom.
That's why the pledge should go back to the way it was before 1954, without "Under God" in it. That's also why our money should be changed, our emblems altered and the entire way the government handles God should be shifted. The concept of a separation between church and state was created to prevent the government from telling us how and what to believe. To trample on that tramples on the rights of everyone atheist and Christian alike.
Because if the government can tell us not only that a higher power exists but which one it is, that's only a step away from telling us how we should worship that power. As things sit now we are only one step better than many of the nations we oppose and if a handful nameless individuals had their way, we would become exactly what we claim to hate, a religious nation with no freedom to choose our own paths in faith.
So to the majority, I beseech you, pretend for a second that you were a part of this minority. Pretend you were being asked to pledge to "No God" or a God different than your own. That's how over a quarter of the population feels every morning at school. We all have the right to religious freedom and that freedom comes with a single great responsibility, the responsibility to not force your belief on others. If you neglect that responsibility then that freedom is lost not just for the minority, but for you as well.
Because right now you have the freedom to question your faith and change your mind. But if you force your faith now and make God an active part of our government, you'll lose that right forever…