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Huh? U.S. Court Rules Pledge of Allegiance 'Unconstitutional'

Charles Moore - 2002.06.27 - Tip Jar

According to Fox News, in a 2-1 decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a 1954 act of Congress that inserted the phrase "under God" after the phrase "one nation" in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States.

Even as a Canadian, I can recite the Pledge by heart without thinking:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

If the ruling survives appeal, it will mean that American schoolchildren can no longer recite the pledge in the nine Western states covered by the 9th Circuit Court. Happily, there is reason to believe that the decision will be quashed by a higher court. President Bush himself has declared the ruling "ridiculous," and so it is, but it also is fair warning that the forces of atheist humanism are still doggedly pressing on with their agenda to trample Western Christian cultural heritage underfoot.

The appeals court argued that the phrase "under God" amounts to a government endorsement of religion in violation of the Constitution's Establishment Clause, which requires a separation of church and state. Or does it?

Separationists have achieved a highly successful propaganda coup in convincing most Americans, including, apparently, circuit court judges, that the "wall of separation" is enshrined in the Constitution, but in fact, the so-called "Establishment Clause" of the First Amendment makes no reference, explicit or implicit, to "separation of church and state," and only inhibits government from establishing a particular denomination as the official state religion.

The "wall of separation" phrase appears nowhere in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, or, indeed, in any other official American document. One of the first acts of the first Congress of the United States was an act to establish chaplains for the U.S. House and the Senate.

When the United States adopted its Constitution in 1789, founder John Adams, who advocated "a government of laws and not of men," observed that democracy was a system of government designed for "a religious and moral people. It is wholly unsuited for any other."

"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports." declared George Washington. "Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."

The famous "wall" phrase actually comes from an 1802 letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association. However, Jefferson attended church services in the halls of the House of Representatives throughout his presidency.

Radical secularists have no legitimate appeal to the US founders. The "wall of separation" Jefferson referred to in his letter to the Baptists had nothing to do with protecting the State from religion, but contextually pertains to protecting the free practice of religion from meddling by the state. In 1892, the U.S. Supreme Court declared, "No purpose of action against religion can be imputed to any legislation, State or national, because this is a religious people - this is a Christian nation." - Unanimous opinion, Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 143 U.S. 226 (1892)

Separationists love to quote the "Establishment Clause": "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..." but usually neglect to complete the sentence: "...or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." That's it. No "wall of separation." Nothing about eliminating Christian expression from the public square.

A month before Congress approved the First Amendment, it passed the Northwest Ordinance, article III of which declares: "Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged."

Chief Justice William Rehnquist of the U.S. Supreme Court observed in a 1985 dissent in Wallace v. Jaffree (472 U.S. 38, 1985) that "the wall of separation between church and state is a metaphor based upon bad history," which "should be frankly and explicitly abandoned," as a "mischievous diversion of judges from the actual intention of the drafters of the Bill of Rights."

Radical separationists on and off the bench have no grounds for appeal to the historical principles that built America. Their "freedom from religion" idea is a postmodern ideological construct dreamed up by radical social activists. Seems like the tail is wagging the dog, and it's a mighty short tail at that.


Charles W. Moore is a Nova Scotia based freelance writer and editor. His articles, features, and syndicated columns have appeared in more than 40 magazines and newspapers in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., and Australia. He is a columnist and editorial writer for Atlantic Fisherman and The Interim, columnist for the Halifax Daily News, news editor and columnist for Applelinks.com, a columnist and contributing editor for MacOpinion and Low End Mac. Mr. Moore is also a member of the Civitas society.

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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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