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Tuesday, September 20, 2005
It's "under God" to you, racist
Jim Lindgren posts the following series of bollocks over at Volokh:
If the Supreme Court were not so confused, the Pledge of Allegiance case would be an easy one on establishment grounds. First, it does not involve a statute of Congress respecting the establishment of a state religion. Second, even if one were to extend this part of the first amendment to the state of California’s statutes, still California has not enacted a state religion, nor has it passed a statute respecting the establishment of religion.
Lindgren then comes up with some information about church-state separation being a plank of the racial agenda of the Ku Klux Klan. Informative and inflammatory, but... irrelevant.
First, this case does too involve Congress establishing, as part of the pledge to this nation, that those who so pledge must do so under a single, partriarchal deity who oh-so-coincidentally shares a first name with that of the King James Bible. Get your head out of the sand, Jim.
Second, insofar as California has endorsed the federal Pledge for use in state-run premises (like schools), it too is agreeing with the federal establishment of religion.
That out of the way, I don't care much that Thomas Jefferson, who helped write that First Amendment, later interpreted that Amendment as a separation of church from state; I don't care what his motives were (even if they were to get anti-slavery preachers off his back, there were plenty of pro-slavery preachers who could have backed him up); and I care least of all that the KKK used it. Even a stopped clock...
For Newdow and certain commenters, the case is reeeeal siiimple:
1. A religion must include (1) a specific definition of a sentient entity not found on Earth and (2) recognition of this entity as a lord. This is not too vague a definition: for example, a nation may establish "Islam" yet tolerate Shi'ites, Sunnis, and Mutazilites equally.
2. Under the Constitution, no-one can force a citizen to confess to a religion as a prerequisite to citizenship; and under its first Amendment, Congress cannot establish a religion as the faith of the federal government.
3. It was Congress that broke the Constitution in 1954, and they did so in such a way as to declare a religion as (1) defines it.
4. Congress's action in 1954 is void until they repeal the First Amendment.
Lindgren's historical comments are an asset to anyone engaged in writing the history of American secularism. But they are totally irrelevant here. What he's doing here is lumping Newdow in with the Klan. Theocratic apologists will use this to "poison the well". I call upon Lindgren to clarify his post on the latter; and to retract it where it denies that the 1954 pledge from Congress breaks the Constitution.
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