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The words “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance are coming under fire again in Massachusetts as a the American Humanist Association (AHA) argues that the pledge is actually unconstitutional since it infringes on the First Amendment right of an Atheist child’s beliefs.
Roy Speckhardt, The executive director of AHA, claims that the method of just opting out of the Pledge of Allegiance won’t work since, “The opt-out itself is exclusionary and unpleasant… Children are left with a bad choice: either stand up and recite something against your beliefs, or opt out and be ostracized.”
I can agree with Peckhardt on this claim since early in my youth a young girl in my class would only stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, but would neither recite it or put her hand over her heart. When school started she was ostracized by a few, but eventually it was just accepted by everyone. Still, I’m sure she didn’t enjoy being gawked at by her fellow pupils.
The strange part of this story is that she did believe in God, but felt that the government and the flag were not to be idolized. It makes me wonder what an association like the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty would do if she went to them and asked if she could get them to end the use of the Pledge of Allegiance all together.
The words “Under God” weren’t the first time that the Pledge of Allegiance was changed by politicians. Since its creation in 1892, the pledge has changed several times. There have been changes such as changing “My Flag” to “The Flag of the United States of America” in 1924 in order to make sure that new immigrants would know that their loyalties lie with the United States and not their birth country.
It wasn’t until 1954 that the words “Under God” were introduced to the Pledge of Allegiance, 62 years after the pledge was first created and 12 years after it was officially adopted by congress (1942) due to pressure from church figures, specifically George MacPherson Docherty.
Docherty gave a sermon that was attended by several United States Presidents on Lincoln’s birthday, claiming that, “…there was something missing in the pledge, and that which was missing was the characteristic and definitive factor in the American way of life.” * which meant that “Under God” would be the right couple of words to make it stick out.
When the bill was signed into law by President Eisenhower on June 14, 1954 (Flag Day) he stated, “From this day forward, the millions of our school children will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural school house, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty…. In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource, in peace or in war.” ** This directly violates the First Amendment, as it forces those who do not believe in God to openly say that it is God that keeps America great.
“Under God” is not needed for the Pledge of Allegiance. It adds nothing to the pledge and was added when religious zealots wanted the country to become closer to God. It is just a relic of a time when America was going through a religious phase and believed it was the right thing to do to. America should be mature enough by now to see our mistakes and change the pledge.
Another thing I don’t understand is why is it that no one has tried to stop the Pledge of Allegiance all together? The pledge is recited most frequently at schools, why should this be allowed? To pledge your allegiance is to say you will follow something no matter what. At a young age children are being told to align themselves with the United States. Does this not mean that the Pledge of Allegiance itself, even without the words “Under God”, is trampling over our First Amendment rights?
Children may not completely understand what the pledge means (I didn’t completely comprehend what it meant until I was in High School), but that doesn’t mean that the country isn’t trying to indoctrinate people at a young age. A nostalgia factor for the Pledge of Allegiance may be the reason why it has stayed all of these years, but there is no real need of the Pledge of Allegiance since the act of reciting it actually infringes on everyone’s First Amendment right.
Hunter S Thompson (via david-f-locke)
Another shooting happens in America and right away news outlets sensationalize the massacre, hoping to get the highest ratings possible. It doesn’t help that the number one videogame in the country at the time was a game that allowed you to shoot random people from across the globe. Gamers knew what this would lead to of course, cries of violent video games training the killer and ,”How can we let our children be witness to the type of violence that is perpetrated in video games?”
I wrote this editorial on violence in video games after what happened in Newton, Connecticut. Hope you enjoy it.
(As with most of my opinion pieces, I wrote this for my college newspaper El Paisano. At first I felt like I was writing this to rile up the ‘Occupy’ base, but about two paragraphs in I started to get more things off my chest and eventually I have an article that just makes me look like a cynical bastard. Nonetheless, maybe you can give it a quick read and get angry at the government again.)
Do you remember a couple months ago when all we could talk about was the ‘Occupy’ movement? It was on everyone’s mind and for the first time in a long time people were questioning authority. It was unlike anything I had seen before, because for once the people who were opposing the government weren’t treated like complete loons. Although not all of America agreed with the movement, there was something to be admired about the protests.
Then the police started to bust down camps and eventually things went back to normal. It all came at the right time, too. Christmas was around the corner and people were ready to buy things that they couldn’t afford en masse.
It took about a month for everyone to forget what the big deal was. Something about the poor or paying the proper amount of taxes or something, I don’t really remember at this point. (And they say this generation gives up too easily…)
I don’t want to openly express my dismay with the death of the Occupy Wall Street movement, because I’m still hoping that things will turn around. I’m hoping that in a few months every person who has been beaten down and mistreated by the government will take a stand against the Wall Street goons and their political puppets. However, my cynicism won’t allow me to do that.
I once talked about breaking the shackles of oppression and as a single unit coming together to create real change in the western world, but that feels like an eternity ago and news stations stopped caring about Occupy Wall Street a long time ago. (M.I.A. did flip the camera off at the Super Bowl, though. That was pretty exciting…)
I know I shouldn’t let the dwindling coverage get to me, but I feel like a lot of people have just given up. Seeing that just gets to me and I can’t help but also give up with the rest of them.
What was I expecting? Did I really think that the Occupy Wall Street movement would change anything? It was nice to see so many like minded people come together with the idea of change in mind, but I think too many of us are scared of real change. No one said it would be easy and I think that’s why Occupy Wall Street eventually failed, because change isn’t easy.
This all may be because all the protesters were docile. If there was one thing I learned from the Arab Spring, it’s that sometimes violence brings people together. When police were beating protesters it got more people in the cause. I know we like to pretend that we’re better than that, that violence won’t solve anything, but those in power are okay with that. As long as they don’t feel threatened, nothing will change.
If you think I sound like a lunatic, maybe you’re right. Who am I to talk about fighting back? I don’t even push people back in a mosh pit.