Much undue attention has been given in the headlines recently to two words in the Pledge of Allegiance. Last week in Sacramento, U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled that saying the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools was unconstitutional because the words "under God" force students into an affirmation of God against their will. The issue at hand is whether the words "under God" constitute an establishment of religion by the government.
It is important to note that the insertion of "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance is a relatively new addition, only having been there since 1954 as part of a "revival" movement in the 1950s. This same movement also saw the words "In God We Trust" put on our money (ironically next to the words "Novus Ordo Seclorum"-new secular order- in The Great Seal on a one dollar bill). The idea behind the campaign was to separate ourselves from the "godless Commies" over in Russia. These facts, however, are ancillary to the case at hand.
Nevertheless, we now live in an age of hyper-sensitivity. So much so that voluntary, student-led prayers before football games have been outlawed and the mere mentioning of any religion (save Secular Humanist or Evolutionist philosophies) in any classroom could mean a teacher's job. There's a more perplexing aspect to the opposition of the arbitrary words "under God" in our pledge though. In the politically correct, postmodern society in which we live, why is it suddenly the word "God" is assigned to the Christian definition? I won't hide the fact that I believe that's the correct definition (surprise, surprise), but a postmodern society that gives equal status to all vendors in the marketplace of ideas is revealing its bias towards the Judeo-Christian heritage of the majority of Americans.
The words "under God" remind us the citizen is the ultimate authority, not the state (as Socialist and Communist societies would have it). Look at the words from a strictly unbiased and postmodern perspective. The word "God" is suddenly subject to the eyes of the beholder. A Muslim would obviously see it as Allah, a pagan would see it as nature or the self, an atheist would see it as their own conscience, etc. Regardless of the definition you assign to the word, it makes the individual responsible to their conscience when the state violates their rights. All that said, I don't buy into postmodernism and this is just me playing the devil's advocate to point to the underlying bias lurking behind this case.
Lawyers, the American Civil Liberties Union, and others have worked up quite a sweat over the years in an effort to strip this country of any reference to its Judeo-Christian heritage. Needless to say, they're winning the battle one step at a time in the name of separating church from state. What many don't realize is that the enforced exclusion of God from public schools, our Pledge of Allegiance, or our money is establishing a secularist religion that ignores many of the principles our country was founded upon. If we are going to outlaw the Pledge of Allegiance as it is, we better start re-writing the Declaration of Independence. Yes, I am fully aware that some of our country's founding fathers weren't Christians, they were Deists. Yet they still believed in a being higher than themselves that was responsible for their existence; they still believed in a God.
The fact remains the government has not established a law requiring these kids to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Therefore, the government has not created a "law respecting an establishment of religion" in this case. We are, however, sadly violating this principle with the enforced exclusion of God and inclusion of Secular Humanism in our public schools.
Tyler Wittman is a senior in speech communication. His column runs every Friday in the Collegian.