Allegiance to what?

Allegiance to what?

Allegiance to what?

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Sept. 28 2007 11:30 AM

Allegiance to what?

I usually keep things light on Friday, but sometimes news happens at the end of the week.

Yesterday, a group of students protested the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance at their school, Boulder High. They met peacefully outside the school during the weekly school recitation of the Pledge as a way of showing that they are against the Pledge being recited over the school's PA system.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

Advertisement

It's clear that this is about the use of the word "God" in the Pledge. No matter how you feel about the Pledge, and about religion, it strikes me that adding the reference in is simply offensive. It was done in the 1950s as a way of weeding out those dirty red commies during the dark McCarthy years of the US government, which is reason enough to take it out. But it also implies that this nation is based on religion, which is patently false. The Founding Fathers were mostly deists, not Christians -- Jefferson himself created his own Bible where he literally tore out all events he deemed as supernatural in the "standard" Bible. Imagine one of the Presidential candidates admitting to doing that today.

The truth is, no matter how you slice it, is that America is not "one nation under God". It just isn't. We have a Mormon running for President, and we've had a Catholic and various other flavors of Christians as President. They would disagree quite strongly over the nature of God. Moreover, we have Muslims in this country, and Jews, and (gasp) non-believers too.

So, which God is it we're united under?

According to the article about the Pledge,

Advertisement

Members of the student group say they have three main gripes with the way the traditional pledge is read at the start of second-period classes: It takes away from school time; it's ignored or disrespected by mocking teens; and the phrase, "one nation, under God," violates the separation of church and state.

I think a case can be made both ways for that last point, and I'll let Constitutional scholars who are smarter than me fight that out. But I think it is entirely disrespectful of students to make them recite the Pledge, or force them to hear it. There's a simple and logical way to look at it: what if it said "One nation, under Allah"?

Why is that idea ridiculous, but using the word "God" isn't?

There is video of the protest, and I have to say that I am really proud of these students who are sticking up for their rights. At the end, they recite a version of the Pledge which, I think, is far superior to the one we have now.

Advertisement

Interestingly, there is another video from Daily Camera:

Notice the one student they interview who says that if people "have a problem with it", they should leave the country. You might excuse him for saying something so anti-American because he's young, but note that the other students, sticking up for what America truly means, are the same age. Maybe Boulder High needs to review their social studies class curriculum.

I live in Boulder; we moved here a few months ago. We could have moved anywhere in the country, but we specifically chose Boulder because of the school system here. Boulder High is one of two outstanding high schools in this area (Fairview is the other one), and when the time comes -- if the students are as active and thoughtful as they are now -- I will be happy to see The Little Astronomer attending.

Tip o' the flagpole to Too Many Tribbles.