Wed 24 Mar, 2004 06:54 pm
Should "under God" be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance?
By GINA HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - Americans overwhelmingly want the phrase "under God" preserved in the Pledge of Allegiance, a new poll says as the Supreme Court examines whether the classroom salute crosses the division of church and state.
Almost nine in 10 people said the reference to God belongs in the pledge despite constitutional questions about the separation of church and state, according to an Associated Press poll.
The Supreme Court was hearing arguments Wednesday from a California atheist who objected to the daily pledges in his 9-year-old daughter's classroom. He sued her school and won, setting up the landmark appeal before a court that has repeatedly barred school-sponsored prayer from classrooms, playing fields and school ceremonies.
The pledge is different, argue officials at Elk Grove Unified School District near Sacramento, where the girl attends school. Superintendent Dave Gordon said popular opinion is on their side — but that's not all.
"It's not a popularity contest. If something is wrong, it should be corrected. No matter how many people support it," he said. "The argument that `under God' in the pledge is pushing religion on children is wrong on the law. It's also wrong from a commonsense perspective."
Dozens of people camped out on a cold night, bundled in layers and blankets, to be among the first in line to hear the landmark case. "I just wanted to have a story to tell my grandkids," said Aron Wolgel, a junior from American University.
Supporters of the pledge began the day outside the court, under sunny skies, reciting the pledge and emphasizing the words "under God."
"After today, this court will decide whether America remains one nation under God or whether we shake a fist in God's face," Rev. Rob Schenck, president of the National Clergy Council, told a crowd of about 40 people carrying signs that read: "I support the pledge."
God was not part of the original pledge written in 1892. Congress inserted it in 1954, after lobbying by religious leaders during the Cold War. Since then, it has become a familiar part of life for a generation of students.
The question put to the Supreme Court: Does the use of the pledge in public schools violate the Constitution's ban on government established religion?
Michael Newdow, the father who filed the lawsuit, compared the controversy to the issue of segregation in schools, which the Supreme Court took up 50 years ago in Brown v. Board of Education.
"Aren't we a better nation because we got rid of that stuff?" asked Newdow, a 50-year-old lawyer and doctor arguing his own case at the court.
The AP poll, conducted by Ipsos-Public Affairs, found college graduates were more likely than those who did not have a college degree to say the phrase "under God" should be removed. Democrats and independents were more likely than Republicans to think the phrase should be taken out.
Justices could dodge the issue altogether. They have been urged to throw out the case, without a ruling on the constitutional issue, because of questions about whether Newdow had custody when he filed the suit and needed the mother's consent.
The girl's mother, Sandra Banning, is a born-again Christian and supporter of the pledge.
"I object to his inclusion of our daughter" in the case, Banning said Wednesday on ABC's "Good Morning America" show. She said she worries that her daughter will be "the child who is remembered as the little girl who changed the Pledge of Allegiance."
Absent from the case is one of the court's most conservative members, Justice Antonin Scalia (news - web sites), who bowed out after he criticized the ruling in Newdow's favor during a religious rally last year. Newdow had requested his recusal.
The case is Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, 02-1624.
Interested in your thoughts !
I recall saying the original pledge in school. Then one day they changed it on us. I felt mightily offended. I felt I was having the Christian religion forced upon me against my will. About fifty years later, I still feel that way.
I would suggest that children ought not be made to pledge allegiance at all. This is a text which was produced in 1892 by Francis Bellamy. Although Bellamy was a Baptist minister, the original version contains no reference to god. Primary school children don't understand what they are saying, and it's use did not become widespread until the "red scare" of the 1950's, when the "under god" horsesh*t was added.
The whole thing stinks of ideological indoctrination. When the student becomes old enough to know what it means to pledge allegiance, then it might be time to introduce the concept, and if the student is then willing to do so, they could be allowed to indulge in that ritual.
I felt I was having the Christian religion forced upon me against my will. About fifty years later, I still feel that way.
Huh, I always felt the same way except it was Greek Mythology...
I felt ornory about saying those words while I was in H.S. I refused to say the pledge of alleigence at all for a while. One teacher lost his **** and sent me to the VP's office. I won. Pththt.
One teacher lost his **** and sent me to the VP's office. I won. Pththt.
Mr. Sinanis the Geometry teacher? That was the bastid that sent me to the principle's office when I refused to say it.
It doesn't matter to me one way or the other if 'under God' is in the pledge or not. I know when I was in elementary school we said it everyday. I didn't think saying under God was a big deal and I don't think kids today care one way or the other if they say under God. Most kids are still half asleep when they say the pledge at 9 a.m. anyway.
NINE AM ! ! ! . . . what a buncha p*ssies . . . we were "all in our places, with bright, shiny faces" by 7:00 a.m. What a buncha [email protected]
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The Very Reverand Falwell along with Dobson should be made de facto principals of all public schools so that all young children should realize the fate of sinners in the hands of an angry god. Lettuce prey.
fishin - I can't remember, but this guy was prolly too young, er um, wasn't prolly teaching when you were in school.
Doglover - it matters because they actually have to say it. It's not like seeing it on a bill, or hearing it at court. It's stated from the individual's perspective.
I am very opposed to the entire pledge of allegience. My opinion has nothing to do with the statement "under God." The whole thing is ridiculous. It seems like something Hitler would have forced children to do when he was in control.
Actually, I'm not really "very opposed." As a matter of fact, I'm practically indifferent. Still, it reeks of Hitler.
You know what? My patriotism varies depending on what dumbassery is happening in this country. I don't want to have to put on a false smile and suck up if I don't feel like it. You're right about it seeming a bit Hitlerish. I think it'd be just fine to learn the thing in school, but every morning to repeat it? I guess I'm still not indifferent to it.
Personally, I don't care but I no longer have children in school.
But, I don't think religions should have a say as to what kids do and say at a public school. Isn't it the aim of religion to teach who and what we are in relation to God, but in a church of one's choice?
All in their places with bright shiny faces and washed brains to match.
The pledge itself is authoritarian. Get rid of that too..
Last year I had to report any student not willing to say the pledge to their parents (in pennsylvania). The law was repealed- just a knee jerk reaction to 9-11.
I never thought about it when I was in school mostly Catholics and Jewish students. Now that I am an adult- I do mind pledging to a god I do not believe in- in order to be an example to students. Luckily I do not have a homeroom this year.