Saturday, October 29, 2011

Obama Doesn't Get It

Not too long ago, I signed a petition to ask for the 1954-added phrase "under God" to be removed from the pledge.

At the link, you can read the official White House response. They just don't get it. Yes, a person should be free to pray or sermonize or proselytize in the public square. People do it all the time. Yes, a student should be free to pray or sermonize or proselytize at school. Students do it all the time. Harassment or disruption of class is, and should be, prohibited, of course.

However, there are two problems with the pledge itself.

1) Mindless chanting of a "patriotic" statement of flag-worship that students are taught to recite without learning what it means is ridiculous. But, they can't teach the students what it means without violating the 1st amendment. Leaving the "under God" part in establishes religion, specifically the monotheism practiced by the majority in the US. There's no getting around that. Students who are Buddhist, students who are Hindu, students who are pagan, and students who worship no gods at all would have to be taught that their religion, or lack thereof, is wrong and that the monotheism promoted in the pledge is right.

2) Until schools stop requiring the mindless chanting of the pledge, children who either don't want to mindlessly chant ANY pledge or who don't want to mindlessly chant something that specifically goes against their religious beliefs or lack thereof are singled out for ridicule and harassment unless they ignore their discomfort, compromise their integrity, and just chant along. Great lesson for the kiddies. Shut up about it or be singled out. Kids LOVE that!

The White House response inserts this from Obama himself:
Not every mention of God in public is a breach to the wall of separation - context matters.
Well, yes. True that. But in the context of a public school classroom with students of many different backgrounds and worldviews, forced statements of flag-worship and monotheism-belief to a captive audience certainly seems to breach the wall of separation.

The White House spokesman writes, in regard to how "under God" in the pledge reflects our religious heritage:
We're proud of that heritage, and the strength it brings to our great country.
Fine, he can recite the pledge anywhere he wants when he doesn't have a captive audience of impressionable children with disparate backgrounds and belief systems.

As far as heritage goes, the pledge did not include any gods until fear of Communism made some influential Christians insist on adding it. So that argument is invalid and inaccurate. If people are so concerned with "heritage," we would be mindlessly chanting the original pledge from 1892:
I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
And we would be doing with our arms outstretched in the "Bellamy salute," which is identical to the Nazi salute. Great. Let's go back to that.

Better yet, let's just do away with the pledge in schools and leave it up to individuals and private groups to chant it if they want.
(PHOTO FROM WIKIPEDIA - Pledge of Allegiance)

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