The Pledge of Allegiance has been ruled unconstitutional in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Alaska and Hawaii — that is, throughout the Ninth Circuit Federal Appellate Court District — because of a ruling today by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The court said that because the pledge contains the words “under God” (added by a particularly pious postwar Congress in the mid-50’s), it violates the First Amendment’s ban on a government establishment of religion. Sounds good to me… but how will they react in Idaho?
The ruling does not take effect for several months, allowing time for appeals… and time for religious conservatives from Orange County, California, to Orange County, Florida to get themselves all wound up into high dudgeon. Prepare for a barrage of righteous criticism of West Coast liberals, Bay Area atheists, “activist” judges who make “unpatriotic” rulings, and so on. Also prepare for a total lack of recognition of the irony that the Bush Administration is fighting a war against ultra-conservative religious extremists abroad while promoting an agenda of ultra-conservatism and government-endorsed religion at home.
But for now, let’s bask in the glory of this unique day in American history, when somebody saw the light — not of God, necessarily, but of reason. In the words of Judge Alfred T. Goodwin: “A profession that we are a nation ‘under God’ is identical, for Establishment Clause purposes, to a profession that we are a nation ‘under Jesus,’ a nation ‘under Vishnu,’ a nation ‘under Zeus,’ or a nation ‘under no god,’ because none of these professions can be neutral with respect to religion.”
And lest anyone think “under God” was really intended as a neutral, non-threatening, not-specifically-Christian phrase, here’s a quote to chomp on: “Millions of our schoolchildren will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural schoolhouse, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty.” Those are the words of President Dwight D. Eisenhower as he signed the bill adding “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954.