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Religious laws. School prayer

Menu:

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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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:

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

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

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Related essays on this web site:

bulletReligious mottos and symbols:
bulletNational motto
bulletState religious mottos
bulletMunicipal government symbols

bulletSeparation of church and state:
bulletSeparation issues
bulletRecent U.S. court rulings on separation of church and state
bulletThe Istook Constitutional Amendment: 1995-1996
bulletThe Istook Constitutional Amendment: 1997-now
bulletOrganizations dealing with separation issues

bulletThe public schools:
bulletReligion in the public schools
bulletHow school prayer in public schools might be constitutional
bulletPrayer at school sports games
bulletThe Equal Access Act governing student clubs at public high schools
bulletStudents 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:

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

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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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