One Nation?

Ann Althouse informs us that Michael Newdow is back in court to challenge the “under God” clause in the pledge of allegiance, and this time he’s also taking on the “in God we trust” motto on our money. This comes just in time to ensure that substantive questions about issues like health care, entitlement reform, national security, etc., will be replaced by questions about this issue intended to create buzz and, of course, ratings.

I’m of two minds here. On the one hand, I’m not sure how leaving “under God” in the pledge of allegiance can be seen as violating anyone’s religious liberty given that no one is forced to say “under God” and, in fact, no one is forced to say the pledge of allegiance at all. I think this has less to do with religious liberty and more to do with Michael Newdow’s personal decision to antagonize people of faith as much as he can, and at this point one must ask who is trying to take away whose religious liberty.

On the other hand, I’m not sure why the religious right can’t seem to let these issues go. Does it really matter if we say “under God” in the pledge of allegiance? Can’t they add it themselves, as a personal decision? And if they’re right about our godless culture, isn’t it sort of a lie to say that we are a nation under God when, according to them, we’re not? Don’t they see anything wrong with having “in God we trust” printed on the very money that is at the root of so many things they consider sins?

Again, I don’t think they’re thinking it through. I think they just want to make sure the atheists don’t win, regardless of what “winning” actually means.

A lot of people think that “under God” is the most important part of the pledge of allegiance. Aside from the historical inaccuracy of this belief (the pledge was without this clause until the Cold War), the “under God” clause simply is not the most important part of the pledge. The most important part is pledging our allegiance to “one nation . . . indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” One nation. Indivisible. With liberty and justice for all. Does anyone still care about those parts?

If we keep arguing about “under God,” that argument and that clause are going to be all that we have left. This pointless argument that we’ve been having with each other for decades is tearing the country in two, dividing us beyond repair, and depriving a variety of Americans of liberty and justice – all in the name of “winning,” all in the name of defeating “the other side.” If we really want one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, whether under God or not, then we better start acting like Americans and get back to living and letting others live. This game of “gotcha” – or should we say “Godcha” – has got to stop.


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