He’s at it again. Michael Newdow is out to see that the words “under God” are removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. This guy will not relinquish his beliefs.
Last year, Newdow experienced a setback in his case against a California school district. He claimed the words violated his daughter’s First Amendment rights, but his case was nullified because he did not have custody of his daughter.
Now Newdow is representing three unnamed parents and their children, yet again claiming that the words “under God” are unconstitutional and violates their Constitutional rights.
The pledge was adopted by Congress as an official patriotic tribute in 1942. In 1954, “under God” was added to the original pledge when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill that added the words in an effort to fight communism.
The establishment clause of the First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
It is the ambiguity of this clause that causes many to believe that the inclusion of the words “under God” in the pledge violates their rights.
Many people like Newdow will hone in on the first half of the clause that says “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion” and interpret it to mean the government should not make any law that supports any religion in any way.
But how do two words establish which religious group the government endorses?
If the pledge clearly stated “one nation under Christianity’s God,” “one nation under Islam’s Allah” or “one nation under Zeus,” then it could be argued that the government is referring to a particular establishment of religion.
If the government took out the words to rule in favor of Newdow, who is an atheist, could it be argued that the government would be making a law that indirectly or directly supports atheism and denounces the God of other religions?
Some interpret the clause to mean we’re supposed to be given the choice to have freedom of any chosen religion, not freedom from religion.
Because there are so many interpretations of the clause, who can argue what it really means?
The original framers who wrote the Constitution are the only ones who could vouch for that aspect. Did they violate Newdow’s rights when they signed the Constitution “in the year of our Lord” located in Article VII?
If Newdow’s case was to be ruled in favor of, we would have to raise the ongoing question about how much separation should exist between government and religion.
A wrong analysis of the clause would cause a precedent in jurisprudence regarding the separation of state and religion.
Would currency with the phrase “In God we Trust” have to be changed? When sworn into court, the inclusion of the words “so help me God” might need to be excluded. Newdow has already raised a fuss about the president placing his hand on a Bible during his inauguration. What about religion majors at universities who are given government grant money?
Where would the line be drawn, or how long would it take ensure change be made to these so called violations of church and state separation? Would people embrace these changes?
If individuals want to get technical with words by saying that “under God” in the pledge violates their rights, then maybe they should realize that technically the words “separation of state and government” do not appear in the Constitution. With or without the words, one thing remains evident; the opinions of individuals have gone against the hope of “one nation indivisible.”
Rachael Riley is a junior broadcast journalism major from Rusk.