Thursday, October 11, 2012

An Atheist's Views on the American Pledge of Allegiance

When famed sci fi writer and producer, Gene Roddenberry, renowned for his series Star Trek, was putting his original crew together, there was immense pressure to put a Christian Chaplain on the flagship, the Enterprise.  The story goes that he refused to because he was a secular humanist and an atheist and he believed that in the future, when mankind would reach the potential of peace and true exploration, there would be no room for such divisive ideals as religion.  As a matter of fact, if you want to see religion in the future that Star Trek envisions you have to look at the bloodthirsty and untrustworthy Klingons.

The point that I am getting at is that these days Christians are constantly talking about the war against god, the war against Christmas, and a myriad of other wars of which they are the always the targets. The truth is that, despite protection from the Constitution, Christians have such a strangled hold on this nation that you cannot even run for office without professing faith in the Christian God.

I happen to be a sucker for country music, I know, ridiculous for an atheist but it is a guilty pleasure.  The radio station I listen to plays a group of children from a local school every morning reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.  They occasionally play a spot on the station that says they are a station that still believes in "under god" in the Pledge of Allegiance and if you do not then you are listening to the wrong station.  So let's talk about the Pledge of Allegiance.

First a brief history on the Pledge of Allegiance. The original pledge was written by a Baptist minister in 1892.  The original version did NOT include the words "under God".  The Catholic group, Knights of Columbus, began a campaign and achieved Congress adding the words "under God" in 1954, coincidentally at the height of the Cold War as the Red Scare and McCarthyism was running rampant across the country.  So in response to Communists and their affinity for atheism we got the theocrats adding the words "under god" to what, otherwise, was a great sentiment and pledge.

What I would like to consider in this post is the contradictions in the Pledge of Allegiance when you add the words  "under God."  Consider the following two points.

1)  "Under God" contradicts and eliminates "one nation" and "indivisible" and the idea of unity.

Regardless of the bogus myth we are constantly force fed, religion is not a uniting force.  I say this in reference to all religions.  In religion, of ANY kind and ANY brand, there is always and always will be an "us and them."  As long as there is an "us and them" there cannot be unity.  In its most basic nature religion is divisive and not a uniter.  Even the Christian faith, in its own book qupting its own founder, Jesus said he was not here to bring peace but rather a sword and to turn a brother against brother and a parent against their kids and kids against their parents.  By its own claims the Christian faith is a divider and not a unifying force.  As long as the words "under God" are their this cannot be a nation that is indivisible and united.

Another problem with this is that if this is "one nation" they are making it clear that the only people that are part of that "one nation" are those that accept that they are "under God."  If you refuse to be "under God" then you are not part of this "one nation."  Indeed many Christians have made it very clear what they think of people of non faith.  Christians have made their disdain clear for anybody of different faith or of non faith.  Famous television and megachurch pastor John Hagee was quoted as saying:

"They're saying that the Ten Commandments have been taken out of the court houses and out of the school houses lest we offend the atheists. Let me be very clear: this country was not built for atheists nor by atheists.  It was built by Christian people who believed in the word of God.

"To the atheist watching this telecast, if our belief in God offends you, move. (applause)

"There are planes leaving every hour on the hour going every place on earth.  Get on one.  We don't want you and we won't miss you.  I promise.

"Our coins say in God We Trust.  President Obama, you recently told foreign media that America is not a Christian nation.  You are absolutely wrong.  We were, we are, and always shall be a Bible-reading, praying, Christian people. (applause)

"Several years ago, witchcraft and satanism were officially approved by the U.S. Military at the direction of the U.S. Congress.  We have officially chosen to recognize another god.  I call upon the members of Congress to outlaw the practice of witchcraft and Satanism the U.S. military lest we offend the God of Heaven.  I don't care about the atheist."

Regardless of the factual license that Rev. Hagee takes with history, the real point is that the Christians have made it clear that they are not interested in the rights granted by the Constitution except when it protects them.  They have made it clear that we are NOT one nation unless you are accepting of the myth that we are "under God."

2)  "Under God" contradicts and eliminates "liberty and justice for all."

Because Christians have an inflated sense of self and they see this as solely their country as their nation and the rest of us are not part of their nation therefore the rights provided in this nation apply solely to them.  You don't believe me?  You think I am over reacting?  You think I making a false accusation and demonizing the Christian population in this nation?  Consider then the current fight for gays to obtain equal rights in this nation.  Since being gay goes against their beliefs and therefore their god these people are not "under god" and therefore not entitled to the same rights.

Consider the amount of states that have a law on their books that you must be a Christian to run for office even though these laws have lost their power to be enforced due to Supreme Court rulings, states like South Carolina refuse to take them off the books.  Though unenforceable they still send a message: you are not welcome here, you are not part of us and you are not entitled to the same rights as we are.

Because Christians in this nation today have a very strong theocratic tendency they want to rule by the Bible. Mike Huckabee has run for President a couple of times and he has always made it clear that he will rule with the Constitution in one hand and the Bible in the other.  The problem with this is that the Bible and the Constitution do not always agree and we can never count on them to choose the Constitution over their Bible.

When Congress added "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance and therefore put the government's approval on the Christian faith; when Congress added "In God We Trust" to our money and thus placed the United States government's stamp of approval on the Christian faith they violated the Constitution and the establishment clause in the First Amendment:  Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion.

The founders, fleeing a world where the Catholic faith and the Episcopalian faith ruled and required submission by all and was backed up and enforced by the government, decided that no religion was supreme and none was superior to others and that Congress should never make any law that gave that preference to one religion over another.  This is what the establishment clause means.  So when Congress placed the Christian God above all others and placed his name on our money and forced his name in our Pledge of Allegiance they violated the very Constitution they were sworn to protect.

Christians try to tie their God to our country in such a way so as to insist that to deny their God is to deny our country.  Make no mistake I love America.  I believe this is the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.  Just because I do not accept your God does not mean I do not love my country.  And just because Rev. Hagee and the rest of the flea bitten rabble he incites with his hate speech do not want us here we are here and we are here to stay.  In fact, we are increasing in our numbers.  A study that was recently reported showed that the Protestant majority has dwindled down to 48%, below 50% for the first time ever.  the amount of non believers has risen to 20% a number that is up by 5% in the last five years alone.

They may not want us here...but here we are...and if Gene Roddenberry's vision had any truth to it then just maybe...just maybe...we as a species can find it in ourselves to grow beyond the need for myths and legends and rise above the limitations that religion has chained us, as a species, down with.  Maybe one day we will boldly go where no man has gone before...a world without gods, a world without limits.



Kat said...

Personally, I don't mind the idea of a higher power and am willing to entertain the possibility but have no patience for organized religion. You're right, it is divisive and narrow and is the cause of so much strife. Just instisting on "under God" in the Pledge, which is supposed to be for everyone, is a declaration of war on all non-christians. No practicing Christian, Muslim, Bhuddist, etc who is unable to set aside his religion while performing his duties can possibly be a president who serves the entire country. The rise of athiesm in the US is proof that religion is losing its strangelhold on the country and perhaps an age of reason is coming.

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