Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Christian Post Report: "Massachusetts High Court Upholds 'Under God' in Pledge of Allegiance as Constitutional" (Including My Own Thoughts on the Pledge)

Christian Post reporter Anugrah Kumar reports that the Massachusetts High Court upholds the constitutionality of the "under God" clause in the Pledge of Allegiance:
Atheist parents and students wanted the Pledge of Allegiance banned in schools in Massachusetts because it contains the phrase "under God," but the state's highest court has ruled that reciting it does not violate the commonwealth's constitution or laws. 
"We hold that the recitation of the pledge, which is entirely voluntary, violates neither the Constitution nor the statute [which prohibits discrimination in Massachusetts public school education] ...," the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court said Friday in Doe v. Acton-Boxborough Regional School District. 
"Simply being offended by something does not make it a violation of the Massachusetts Constitution," said Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco of Alliance Defending Freedom. "As we argued in our brief and as the Supreme Judicial Court found, the recitation is completely voluntary, and listening to the words 'under God' does not violate anyone's constitutional freedoms."
I agree that the term "under God" may not be unconstitutional per se, and neither does a mere inclusion of the phrase into the pledge violate any First Amendment restrictions on the government. However, I am of the personal conviction that the Pledge of Allegiance should not be recited and should be scrapped as a whole, as it is a statist pledge that argues for pledging allegiance to a flag that represents a bloated State, and the "under God" phrase doesn't help that much either. Laurence Vance says of that phrase:
...just because the phrase “under God” in the Pledge doesn’t violate the Constitution doesn’t mean that it belongs in the Pledge or, more importantly, that Christians should recite the Pledge. 
One reason why Christians should not recite the Pledge is a simple one, and one that has nothing to do with patriotism or religion. 
The United States is not a nation “under God.”
Later on, Vance argues against those who would say that "it is not worshipping anything other than God." He argues?
Only a madman would say that the United States is a nation “under God.” 
Oh, but the Pledge is just some words, some say, the reciting of which doesn’t really mean anything. 
Then why say it? If the Pledge is just some words that don’t really mean anything, then it makes more sense not to say it than to say it. 
The Pledge doesn’t say that the United States used to be one nation under God. It doesn’t say that the United States should be one nation under God. It says that the United States is one nation under God. 
That is a lie.
Christians are not supposed to lie: 
Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds (Colossians 3:9) 
Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another (Ephesians 4:25) 
Thou shalt not bear false witness (Romans 13:9) 
Is it unpatriotic to not say the Pledge? It may be. But it is certainly right, Christian, and biblical not to.
And not only that, the Pledge can be said to be un-American as well. As Benedict D. LaRosa points out:
To Americans of the late 19th century, “allegiance” was a feudal concept denoting subservience to a master. Americans considered themselves sovereigns, not subjects. They feared that the natural supremacy of the individual over his government, as reflected by the Declaration of Independence and guaranteed in the constitutions of the United States and of the several states, might eventually be overturned by the ideas expressed in the Pledge. They, unlike so many Americans today, understood that those who exercise the instruments of government – public servants – feel more comfortable ruling than serving. 
The Pledge’s words also smacked of nationalism, which Americans of that period considered, well, un-American. Their objection to nationalism seems strange today, but to Americans of 1892 it was a dangerous concept.
And not only that:
Although [the Americans] saw themselves as separate and distinct from foreign peoples and powers, internally they considered themselves a collection of independent states united by a compact called the Constitution of the United States. “One nation” implied that the states were merely subdivisions of a national government, which Americans of that era knew was not the case. Pledging allegiance to one nation, they knew, would undermine the concept of federalism and threaten constitutional government. 
Their suspicions were justified, for the intent of the Pledge’s author, a socialist named Francis Bellamy, was to support the secular education of the public-school system and efforts by the National Education Association (NEA) to counter the growing influence – especially among immigrants – of the Catholic Church’s parochial schools. Bellamy and the NEA felt that inculcating a sense of nationalism into America’s children would serve their purposes.
And last, I would also add that the decision of whether to recite the pledge or not is not always voluntary.

Ultimately, what it all comes down to is that I oppose the Pledge and feel it not only lies about America and glorifies the State but that it isn't even truly American (but then again, sometimes what is "American" can be interpreted subjectively). Thus, I honestly don't care that much regarding the phrase "under God," nor do I support the recitation of it. Despite what some proponents would argue, the Pledge doesn't describe an ideal world but presents itself as a telling of what is. And America's government isn't exactly a promoter of liberty and justice, despite what the Pledge implies. It constantly erodes these two through wiretapping, warrantless spying, police statism, economic regulation, national-security statism, warmongering, and all these.

New Comments

I just received several new comments on this blog, and I want to post about it, notifying everyone.

1. Marc Clair's comment on In Defense of Lew Rockwell, Part 1:

Great perspective here and keep up the great work!

 : Another sound defense of Mr. Rockwell, Anand. The main group of people he (and many other LRC and Mises associates) seems to have a grudge against are beltway "libertarians" who are generally weak on the anti-war issue (and plenty of other key issues) and all too willing to compromise with politicians on this or that. These same "libertarians" have no problem attacking "purists," but when they are on the receiving end of criticism, you'll hear plenty of whining.
3. Aaron Catlin Styles on the same article:
 : The "adding to libertarianism" crowd is making a fatal mistake. They are under the delusion that this tactic will draw in "new blood" to the liberty movement. In reality they will push more away since the ideas/philosophies they wish to add are the same flawed ideas and philosophies that drove most of us to libertarianism in the first place. Libertarianism finds it strength in its very basic, widely acceptable, core principles. Lew Rockwell knows this is the case and that is why he is such a integral part of our community. You have defended him wonderfully. Keep up the great work, Anand!
There are many more comments here on the site, including on "Explaining Anarcho-Capitalism," and I will regularly post when I get new comments.