I wanted to publicly thank the the new Delaware Valley Bucks County Chapter of AU for an incredible program last night. Paul Grosswald Esq., who wrote the amicus brief on the part of the Buddhists explained the nuances (and lack thereof) of the Newdow case. His humor and ability to walk us through the case one step at a time brought home the extent that the 1954 addition of “under G-d” in the pledge violates the First amendment. The purpose of the addition is clear, to teach children from a young age that loyalty to country is synonymous with loyalty to G-d.It clearly endorses one religion over another as to a Buddhist every recitation of the pledge violates his duty to “right speech”, and as a public school teacher I can attest that in some classes students are coerced into saying the pledge.
What I never fathomed before was how the “other side” could defend “under G-d” in the pledge constitutionally. The answer was clear by the end of the presentation. They don’t. Some of the arguments was that, the phrase acknowledged limited government (remember the Declaration is NOT the Constitution) ,it Promotes Patriotism, commemorates the role of religion in American History (that will be included in the Texas SS textbooks I’m sure) and we need to look at the pledge in its entirety as most of it is not about G-d. None of these reasons really argues why the courts support Congress’s inclusion of “under G-d” in the 1954 revision of the pledge and it is still held Constitutional.
In 2008 Sarah Palin was asked, “Are you offended by the phrase “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why or why not?”
Her reply is disturbing for those of us who believe in teaching history accurately: “Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me and I’ll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance.”
Mr Grosswald believes in teaching history accurately and he believes in the Constitution. The Pledge wasn’t written until 1892, and the revision of adding under G-d was not made until 1954. Possibly it is time to revisit the historical precedent of reciting the pledge in its present form.
Thank you to Mr. Grosswald for traveling to Doylestown to give a brilliant lecture, and thank you to Ed and AU for arranging an enlightening program that was so well delivered.