Labor Advocate Online

God Wins On TKO—Still A Nation Divisible
by Bill Onasch

Item—WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An atheist's attempt to remove the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance failed on Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court  avoided the constitutional question and ruled he could not bring the challenge on behalf of his daughter.

The court made its ruling, not coincidently, on Flag Day, the fiftieth anniversary of inserting fealty to the religious establishment as part of our affirmation of America. I remember that day well, even though I was only eleven, because I haven't recited the Pledge of Allegiance since.

My personal religious views were far from sorted out when I was in the seventh grade. But I had already learned from my teachers that one of the key founding principles of this country was separation of church and state. Belief—or disbelief—in God and organized religion was supposed to be a personal matter, not national policy.

Besides, the insertion of the Supreme Being contradicted the clause preceding: one nation indivisible. Indivisible has to include all Abrahamic based denominations plus all the atheists, agnostics, humanists, wiccans, or whatever. Attacking our pluralism is nothing if not divisive.

The bipartisan red baiters of 1954, wagging and whimpering behind Joe McCarthy, violated both the letter and the spirit of our Bill of Rights when they tried to cram their nominal religious practices down our collective throat. It was part and parcel of their general drive to intimidate those trying to exercise  freedom of speech, to house break our unions, and to subjugate the working class to the domination of the bosses' politicians, brass hats, and church hierarchy.

Our ancestors who forced the “Founding Fathers” to include the Bill of Rights as amendments to the original draft of our Constitution had the right idea about religion. Theocratic governments in power—whether they be Islamic, Jewish, or Christian—are proven enemies of human rights in general and the instigators of many bloody wars.

Even though I am not religious I will fight to defend the right of every individual to worship as they believe. Furthermore, even though they can be quite annoying, I support the right of the religious to proselytize. But, in return, I expect the same support from people of faith for my rights. That's how democracy is supposed to work.

This Supreme Court's latest cowardly dereliction of their duty to defend the Bill of Rights means I will continue my fifty-year practice of standing silent while others pledge allegiance to God as well as country.

Flag Day—6/14/2004