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Religious laws. School prayer

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The U.S. Pledge of Allegiance.
The recently added "under God" phrase.

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Quotations:

bullet "From this day forward, the millions of our school children will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural schoolhouse, the dedication of our Nation and our people to the Almighty." President Eisenhower (1954) after signing into law a bill to have "under God" added to the original pledge. 1

bullet "The statement that the United States is a nation 'under God' is an endorsement of religion. It is a profession of a religious belief, namely, a belief in monotheism," Rulings by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2002-JUN and 2003-FEB. 2

bullet "If you doubt that the phrase "under God" is religious, then try substituting 'under Buddha' or 'under Allah,' or 'under Krishna,' and repeat the Pledge." From an E-mail received by this web site.

bullet "...the Pledge of Allegiance presents a vision of a monotheistic Judeo-Christian country, and ignores the fact that  there a large number of Buddhist Americans who do not adhere to monotheistic beliefs." Ken Pierce of the New York law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP.

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The original pledge was adopted in 1892 and changed multiple times:

This is the 1924 version:

original wording, pledge of allegiance

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Overview:

Since 1954, tens of millions of school children in America have recited the Pledge of Allegiance without much controversy:

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands; one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

In 2002-JUN, Michael A. Newdow, an Atheist from Sacramento, CA, was successful in having the phrase "under God" declared unconstitutional by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. However, an act by Congress limited the power of the Judiciary, thus preventing the removal of the phrase.

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Topics covered in this section:

bullet Background material: Overview, history of the Pledge,  suggested future changes to the Pledge.
 
bullet Controversy about the "under God" phrase: Its implications; agreement & opposition; why does it matter?; attempts to extend its use.

bullet Controversy about the "under" word: A donated essay An essay by John Kyff, Jr.
 
bullet The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision: The decision, reactions, dissents by judges, federal bill, House resolution.
 
bullet The appeal to the Supreme Court: The briefs.
bullet An expired appeal for funds to finance a brief
 
bullet A possible win-win compromise.
 
bulletGod in the Pledge of Allegiance: How secularists can win by altering their strategy. A essay by Susan Humphreys
 
bullet Conflict between two rulings in Virginia and California
 
bullet Pledge Protection Act of 2004

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Related essays on this web site:

bullet Religious mottos and symbols:
bullet National motto
bullet State religious mottos
bullet Municipal government symbols

bullet Separation of church and state:
bullet Separation issues
bullet Recent U.S. court rulings on separation of church and state
bullet The Istook Constitutional Amendment: 1995-1996
bullet The Istook Constitutional Amendment: 1997-now
bullet Organizations dealing with separation issues

bullet The public schools:
bullet Religion in the public schools
bullet How school prayer in public schools might be constitutional
bullet Prayer at school sports games
bullet The Equal Access Act governing student clubs at public high schools
bullet Students wearing religious clothing or jewelry

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Cartoon courtesy of AtheistCartoons.com. Visit their website for other hilarious cartoons

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Fred Jackson and Jody Brown, "In Remembrance of School Prayer: ACLU Attributes Notion of Effective Prayer to 'Radical Religious Right'," ChristianWebSite.com, 2002-JUN-25, at: http://headlines.agapepress.org/ (This was only a temporary listing.)
  2. The Texas Justice Foundation is a conservative group which "provides free legal representation in landmark cases in protect individual rights, limit government to its appropriate role, and promote a better business climate for job growth in Texas." Their web site is at: http://www.txjf.org/
  3. John W. Baer, "The Pledge of Allegiance: A short history," at: http://www.vineyard.net/vineyard/history/
  4. "Court rules Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional," Associated Press, 2002-JUN-26.
  5. Pete Winn, "Court Declares Pledge Unconstitutional," Focus on the Family, 2002-JUN-26, at: http://www.family.org/cforum/feature/
  6. U.S. Supreme Court, "Engel et al. v. Vitale et al.," 1962-JUN-25, at: http://www.nationalcenter.org/cc7252.htm
  7. Bob Kellogg, "Response swift to pledge ruling," Focus on the Family, 2002-JUN-27, at: http://www.family.org/cforum/fnif/news/
  8. Tony Norman, "Is God so small he needs a Pledge for validation," 2002-JUN-28, Post-Gazette.com, Pittsburgh, PA.

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Additional references:

bullet

"Ashcroft vows Pledge appeal -- 'ceremonial deism' v.  separation," AANews, 2003-MAR-1.

bullet

Frank J. Murray, "Pledge dispute heads to justices," Washington Times, 2003-MAR-1, at: http://washingtontimes.com/national/

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Site navigation:

 Home page > Christianity > Prayer > School prayer > here

or: Home page > Law menu > here

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Copyright 2002 to 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2002-JUN-26
Latest update and review: 2013-APR-14
Author: B.A. Robinson

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