(via Unscrewing the Unscrutable)
McDermott leads pledge in House, omits 'under God'
By Jim Brunner and Alex Fryer
Seattle Times staff reporters
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott turned a routine recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance into a political flap this week when he omitted the words "under God" while leading the House of Representatives in the pledge.
McDermott, D-Seattle, said he recited the pledge before Tuesday's House session the way he had learned it as a child in Illinois, before the words "under God" were added, and that he meant no offense. When he came to "under God," McDermott paused while the rest of the House said the words and then continued on with the pledge.
"That's how I've always said it," McDermott said yesterday. "I make my pledge to my country and that's the end of it."
Of course, that's where the common sense abruptly came to a screeching halt, as various congressmen and women immediately chastised Rep. McDermott for "embarrassing the House and disparaging the majority of Americans who share the values expressed in the pledge."
The First Amendment of our constitution clearly states- "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ". Without getting too detailed, it's pretty obvious that this meant that government should not be in the business of selecting which religions it would ESTABLISH as the GOVERNMENTS religion. For those intellectually challenged, this means that the House of Representatives should not say "god" when debating laws anymore than they should say "Buddha" or "Zoroastria" 'cause see, that would be EXCLUSIVE.
I blogged about the Supreme Court Case concerning the pledge earlier here, and brought up a few of the relevant quotes from certain political figures concerning the issue.
Gentlemen,-The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me on behalf of the Danbury Baptist Association give me the highest satisfaction. . . . Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God; that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship; that the legislative powers of government reach actions only and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties. I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessing of the common Father and Creator of man, and tender you for yourselves and your religious association assurances of my high respect and esteem.
Taken from -Jefferson, Writings, Vol. XVI, pp. 281-282, to the Danbury Baptist Association on January 1, 1802.
"The United States have adventured upon a great and noble experiment, which is believed to have been hazarded in the absence of all previous precedent -- that of total separation of church and state. No religious establishment by law exists among us. The conscience is left free from all restraint and each is permitted to worship his maker after his own judgement ... Such is the great experiment which we have tried; our system of free government would be imperfect without it.", [President John Tyler, 10th US President and supporter of state-church separation]
"I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute -- where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote -- where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference -- and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him." [President John F. Kennedy]
"When the government puts its imprimatur on a particular religion it conveys a message of exclusion to all those who do not adhere to the favored beliefs. A government cannot be premised on the belief that all persons are created equal when it asserts that God prefers some." Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun in the Lee v. Weisman ruling, 1992.
And just to remind you the man who wrote the pledge, Sir Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister, wrote the pledge as follows: 'I pledge allegiance to my Flag and (to*) the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.' He considered placing the word, 'equality,' in his Pledge, but knew that the state superintendents of education on his committee were against equality for women and African Americans. [ * 'to' added in October, 1892. ]
If a MINISTER realized that God didn't belong in the pledge, why is this so hard for all of the other religious folks to understand?
Would anyone even be having this conversation if someone said "Under Allah"? I think not.