A nation divided

By Phil Plait | July 12, 2010 7:12 am

Thought for the day: it just occurred to me how incredibly ironic it is that, when the Pledge of Allegiance was changed in 1954, they actually put "under God" in between the words one nation and indivisible.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Piece of mind, Politics, Religion

Comments (110)

  1. Zucchi

    Another irony is that the “under God” was supposed to make it clear that we weren’t like the atheist Commies with their dogmatic State-enforced belief system ….

  2. Terry

    Meh… Treat it like the deism expressed in the Declaration and get over it. We are a nation founded on the principles of Locke’s Second Treatise. Locke’s first treatise, of course, was a biblical discussion to challenge the divine right of kings. Be happy that the rights conferred by Locke’s liberalism have broken the back of religious interpretations of law and his intellectual successors have broken the link between church and state, but don’t forget that our history in America is one that comes from deep seeded religious belief.

  3. Grand Lunar

    @ #2. Terry

    Despite that deep seeded belief, the founding principles were meant for this nation to be secular.

    The freedom of religion we’re supposed to enjoy meant that we had to have freedom FROM religion.

  4. Grand Lunar

    This reminds me of years back when the discussion of those word being removed was going on.

    My dad said of it “What’ll they put in instead, “Under Clinton”?
    (Clinton was president at the time)

    Shows that he doesn’t know the history that needs to get out; that those two words didn’t always exist, and if they’re removed, it just puts the pledge back to it’s original form.

  5. Zucchi

    And it’s not just us atheists; lots of thoughtful religious people (not an oxymoron) don’t like that stuff either. Any religious expression on the part of the federal government tends to be watered down so that it’s virtually meaningless: “under God”; “in God we trust”. That’s not an expression of faith, it’s witless pandering.

  6. Revyloution

    Bah Terry, nearly everything prior to 200 years ago came from a deep seeded religious belief. Nonbelievers were tiny minorities that kept to themselves for centuries. All great accomplishments of humanity came when people put aside religion and used rational thought. Then the priests come marching in and solemnly put the stamp of approval from their gods. The founding of the USA was significant in history as it was the first nation that implicitly left out any mention of any gods. Then comes McCarthy, waltzing in to use his crayons to vandalize our secular nation.

  7. Randy-t

    You’re a smart one

  8. Daffy

    The Spanish Inquisition, Crusades, 9/11, witch burning, etc. all came from a deep seeded religious belief, too.

    As far as the current topic, it is AMAZING how many people I meet who think “under God” was always there in the pledge of allegiance. Almost no one remembers it was only added in the 1950s.

  9. Oh dear, someone will be bringing up the Mayflower Compact soon.

  10. Bob from Easton

    “Then the priests come marching in and solemnly put the stamp of approval from their gods.”

    Not unlike the Blues Brothers receiving Vatican approval…

    http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2010/06/vatican_deems_the_blues_brothe.html

  11. Jason A.

    To heck with the Pledge altogether. ‘Hey let’s make kids recite a loyalty oath every morning. That’s not creepy at all.’ Bare brainwashing tactic and nothing more.

    I keep an old ‘godless dollar’ from 1934 that doesn’t have ‘In God We Trust’ in my wallet just for the rare occasion someone might need to see ‘In God We Trust’ is a recent thing, not tradition.

  12. JJonahJansen

    Um…guys? It’s deep ‘seated’, not deep ‘seeded’.

  13. TW

    The entire pledge is the most ironic thing of all!

  14. Terry

    @Grand Lunar, Where in the political writings of any of the founding fathers but (outcast) Thomas Paine, did it say the freedom of religion was freedom from religion. Freedom of religion was meant to make the GOVERNMENT secular because the government, in Jefferson’s view, was not supposed to be the culture. The debates of the founding fathers focused quite a bit on deism as a religious principle, and definitely focused on toleration, but did not call for freedom from religion.

    The government should not make any law regarding religion, for or against. That said, adding under God was a violation of the First Amendment in my opinion, but likewise, forcing children to say it is a violation of the First Amendment, as the Supreme Court already held.

    @ Daffy: And Stalin and Mao and their death tolls was inspired by a deep seated secular belief. Every concept has its demons. If you go back to the Spanish Inquisition it was just as much about economy as today’s killings are. Religion was the excuse, take it away, another excuse will arrive. Communism was supposed to be an ideal of peace but it killed millions, not because the ideal was flawed (though it was) but because the ideal needed to be cemented against unbelievers. The beauty in America is that we argue with unbelievers (Atheists argue against non-atheists just as much) rather than kill them, generally.

  15. Theron

    I always thought it was “deep seated,” not “deep seeded.” The Google hive-mind, at least, agrees with me: 7.9 million results vs. 2.04 million results.

  16. Terry

    @11: Bah, we’re not the only ones that read it that way. http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20061126141727AAgNo03. Anyways, sorry.

  17. Timmy

    As a school kid, I never thought twice about it. There were never any fights on the playground over it. No one was offended by it. Kids don’t care one way or the other and no one got brainwashed.

    In other words, those two words haven’t divided anyone, IMO, other than that uptight athiest in California looking for a fight.

    On the other hand, if it was “one nation, under spaghetti…” I wonder how I might react…

    I think the real problem in the US is a deep-seated need to blame all of our problems on the other guys – Liberal v Conservative, North v South, Roe v Wade, Athiest v Religious, BP v Seagulls…

  18. TheBlackCat

    @Timmy: The fact that you aren’t aware of what happens to kids that have objected to it does not mean they have not suffered for it.

  19. Trebuchet

    Timmy, when I was in school there was a kid who wouldn’t recite the pledge. He was assaulted in the hallways and called a “commie”. Actually he was a Jehovah’s Witness, a whole different form of crazy. I was in a fairly enlightened school district where they used some excuse to get him out of the classroom and the principal came in and attempted to set things straight. In other places at that time, he’d have also been subject to official harassment.

  20. Theron

    Well Timmy, anecdotal evidence being what it’s worth ad all, my anecdotal evidence is that I grew up a non-believer in rural Georgia and, yeah, it was a problem. It does in fact matter if the state privilege one ideology over another.

    And please dispense with the “offended” meme. I am not “offended” by the government’s sanctioning of my status as a second-class citizen. I’m fighting mad about my government’s sanctioning of my status status as a second-class citizen. “Offended” makes it sound like it’s a question of personal taste. My citizenship is not a matter of personal taste, thank you.

  21. Szwagier

    “I pledge allegiance to and wrap myself in the flag of the United States
    Against Anything Un-American and to the Republicans for which it stands,
    two nations, under Jesus, rich against poor, with curtailed liberty and
    justice for all except blacks, homosexuals, women who want abortions,
    Communists, welfare queens, treehuggers, feminazis, illegal immigrants,
    children of illegal immigrants, and you if you don’t watch your step.”

  22. Jason

    The “Red” Skelton recitation and explanation of the Pledge of Allegiance is the best. Since then his prediction about somebody claiming that inserting “under God” made it a prayer came true, but the part about removing the Pledge of Allegiance from schools for that reason seems to be a mute point. Those offended by the words “under God” might have had a better case if they claimed the inappropriate pause (moment of silence) before the words was the prayer considering that most people are taught to say “One nation, under God,” rather than the correct “One nation under God,” and when told not to insert the comma they seem to get just as offended as those on each side of the “under God” argument, especially if they are now the ones teaching others to say the Pledge of Allegiance the wrong way. A typical defensive (/dismissive) response to any attempt to correct poor flag etiquette is “Well (/It’s okay) they [those being taught wrong] don’t know any better.” Unfortunately they never will if not taught different, and the same attitude plays in any anti-intellectual battleground with the logical end being dependence rather than independence.

  23. Here is a copy of an essay I found a while back that discusses that freedom OF religion does indeed require fredoom FROM religion as well. There is another essay out there that I think is better, but I can’t put my hands on it just yet. Will have to wait until I get home:

    Freedom of Religion Requires Freedom From Religion

    Conservatives insist that the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from religion, and argue against strict separation of church and state. Too often, though, conservatives seem to have a flawed understanding of what freedom from religion really entails and fail to realize that freedom from religion is crucial to religious liberty in general.

    It is evident that a person misunderstands the concept of freedom from religion when they say that promotion of the idea is part of an effort to eliminate religion from the public square, to secularize America, or to deny religious believers a voice in politics. None of this follows from a belief that people have a right to be free from religion.

    Freedom from religion is not a demand that one never encounter religion, religious believers, or religious ideas at all.

    Freedom from religion is not freedom from seeing churches, encountering people handing out religious tracts on the street corner, seeing preachers on television, or listening to people discuss religion at work. Freedom from religion is not a demand that religious beliefs never be expressed, that religious believers never voice an opinion, or that religiously-inspired values never have any impact on laws, customs, or public policies.

    Freedom from religion is thus not a social right to never encounter religion in public spaces. Freedom from religion has two relevant aspects: personal and political. On the personal level, a right to be free from religion means that a person has the freedom not to belong to any religion or religious organization. The right to be religious and to join religious organizations would meaningless if there did not exist a parallel right not to join any at all. Religious liberty must simultaneously protect both the right to be religious and the right not to be religious at all — it cannot protect a right to be religious, just so long as you pick some religion.

    When it comes to politics, the freedom from religion means being “free from” any government imposition of religion. Freedom from religion does not mean being free from seeing churches, but it does mean being free from churches getting governing financing; it doesn’t mean being free from encountering people handing out religious tracts on a street corner, but it does mean being free from government-sponsored religious tracts; it doesn’t mean being free from hearing religious discussions at work, but it does mean being free from religion being a condition of employment, hiring, firing, or one’s status in the political community.

    Freedom from religion isn’t a demand that religious beliefs never be expressed, but rather that they not be endorsed by the government; it’s not a demand that religious believers never voice an opinion, but rather that they not have a privileged status in public debates; it’s not a demand that religious values never have any public impact, but rather that no laws be based on religious doctrines without the existence of a secular purpose and basis.

    The political and the personal are closely related. A person cannot be “free from” religion in the personal sense of not having to belong to any religion if religion is made a factor in one’s status in the political community. Government agencies should not endorse, promote, or encourage religion in any way. Doing so suggests that those who accept the religious beliefs favored by the government will, by extension, be favored by the government — and thus a person’s political status becomes conditioned on their personal religious commitments.

    The claim that the Constitution only protects “freedom of religion” and not “freedom from religion” thus misses an important point. Religious liberty, if it is to mean anything, cannot merely mean that the state won’t use the police to stop or harass adherents of certain religious ideas. It must also mean that the state won’t use more subtle powers, like those of the pocketbook and the bully pulpit, to favor some religions over others, to endorse certain religious doctrines rather than others, or to take sides in theological disputes.

    It would be wrong for the police to close synagogues; it is also wrong for police officers to tell Jewish drivers during a traffic stop that they should convert to Christianity. It would be wrong for politicians to pass a law banning Hinduism; it is also wrong for them to pass a law proclaiming that monotheism is preferable to polytheism. It would be wrong for a president to say that Catholicism is a cult and not really Christian; it is also wrong for a president to endorse theism and religion generally.

    This is why freedom of religion and freedom from religion are two sides of the same coin. Attacks on one ultimately serve to undermine the other. The preservation of religious liberty requires that we ensure that the government not be handed any authority over religious matters.

  24. Terry

    I was the kid who didn’t say “under god” in my school. No one cared. I said the rest. And about this being indoctrination. Um, yeah? That’s what it is. Part of school is to give morals and if one of those morals is patriotism, good.

    @Larian: That is a good essay, but it fails to redefine freedom from religion in my vernacular. Freedom of religion is what is guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, as described by jurists for the last two centuries (okay, really only the last 75 years) of jurisprudence. There has never been a debate of jurisprudence that defines freedom from religion as a guaranteed right of the Bill of Rights meaning that freedom of religion covers the restriction from governmental interference in religious practices meaning that the government should not endorse any specific religious practice.

    Freedom from religion is a bombastic term developed by conservatives to argue that there is a ‘war on religion’ which is mostly drawn up of trumped up charges, but some legitimate concerns.

  25. I don’t particularly care if anyone is offended by the words or not. I am, however, opposed to their inclusion in the pledge (as well as “In God We Trust” on the currency), as it is a violation of the First Amendment. It’s the principle of the thing, really. The law that added it should never have been passed. Good luck overturning the law, though, since, IIRC, the Supreme Court ruled that the words do not have a religious meaning, but are a colloquialism, or something like that.

  26. llewelly

    Phil, Phil, you don’t understand. It was the middle of the Cold War. Stalin was threatening to nuke the whole wide world into a parking lot. America had been infiltrated to her deepest, nethermost innards. Even the author of the Pledge itself, Francis Bellamy himself had his soul (may it rest in peace) subtly but deeply corrupted by the dark touch of Communism. America had to take the pledge back!

  27. Joe

    When I was a kid, I used to say “under guard” instead. It seemed appropriate at the time, and still does. Of course, nobody ever noticed.

  28. llewelly

    Terry Says:
    July 12th, 2010 at 9:12 am :

    Part of school is to give morals and if one of those morals is patriotism, good.

    The kind of patriotism which places a symbol, such as the pledge, the flag, or the president’s chair, above principles, such as the 1st amendment, is immoral, because it directly undermines the very principles that make real patriotism so valuable.

  29. alfaniner

    How many said “invisible” instead of “indivisible”?

  30. Terry

    @llewelly: I agree that that kind of patriotism is inaccurate, but not immoral. Understanding the concepts enshrined in the first amendment is part of our national education program, but symbols have ALWAYS united people better than concepts. The Flag is the symbol of the United States. Everything good, bad, or indifferent about the United States is rapped up in the flag. The principle of the first Amendment is only a part of the United States. The twin principles of Liberty and toleration are only more parts of the United States, but the flag is a symbol for all of those. If you have no love for the Flag, fine, whatever, but respecting a symbol is not immoral.

  31. QuietDesperation

    The Spanish Inquisition

    Wow. I wasn’t expecting that here.

    or indifferent about the United States is rapped up in the flag

    Rapped? Fo shizzle! Pledge Allegiance to the Grind, mah peeps!

  32. @QD

    No one expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise…surprise and fear.

  33. bystander

    God shouldn’t figure into it anyway. Either we are one indivisible nation, or …

    I think “the flag of” should be left out, also. Pledge to the nation, not an object.

    In any case, the pledge should be resurrected as a morning exercise in public schools.

  34. Stan9FOS

    “When I was a kid, I used to say “under guard” instead. It seemed appropriate at the time, and still does. Of course, nobody ever noticed.”
    And don’t even get me started on the Lord’s Prayer and “Lead a snot into temptation…”

  35. Fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency….and an almost fanatical…

    I’ll come in again.

  36. I remember once in school I said the pledge and not only left out “under god” I also didn’t leave a pause so I finished three beats before everyone else and got in trouble (it was elementary school). My reasoning was that taking out the words didn’t necessarily mean leave a space.

  37. Helene

    My kid doesn’t believe in God. But every Friday (it’s only once a week at our school) he gets to be reminded that all the adults in authority over him believe he is wrong and they are right. And that sucks.

  38. Ken (a different Ken)

    #10 Bob,

    That was news to me, thanks! I’ll have to forward that link to a few people. :-)

    So violence including theft, massive property damage, loss of life and limb (how many of Chicago’s Finest were maimed or killed in all those car wrecks?), and fraud are perfectly OK with the Catholic Church so long as it’s done in the name of God?

    ken

  39. Pi-needles

    @9. kuhnigget Says:

    Oh dear, someone will be bringing up the Mayflower Compact soon.

    Mayflower compact? Is that a new type of small car or something? ;-)

  40. Christopher Earle

    So, I am not American? I am deeply spiritual and religious, but a creator deity is not part of my views. Or is it that the pledge is a lie? There are many Americans who do not accept the existence of a creator being. Buddhists, agnostics, and atheists, to name a few. I’m Buddhist.

    What’s it going to be, folks? Are those of us who don’t follow Abrahamic religion Americans, or is your pledge discriminatory? Based on the pledge as it is written, I can not pledge allegiance to the United States.

  41. Utakata

    I’m not sure how one would put “under” of something that is supposed to be everywhere. :(

  42. Interesting to note this :

    D.C. President Truman met with him along with several others to discuss the inclusion of “under God” and also “love” just before “liberty and justice”

    Imagine that – including ‘Love’ along with God & by inference religion.

    It amazes me that adherents of a religion founded on the basic principle of “love your neighbour” (ie. all other humans even or indeed especially the ones that are outcasts) and with a hero (whose example is meant to be followed in the very name of the faith!) who practiced self-sacrifice for the sake of saving others – including giving his Life; who talked of helping the poor a lot more times than he ever mentioned homosexuals. (Which number would be ..er .. zero .. if I recall right.)

    If Jesus personally ever mentioned homosexuality – or abortion or guns [a right to bear swords?*] – I cannot recall it – & he sure did talk of poverty and aiding those less fortunate a lot more! Jesus also hung around with the lepers and prostitutes and tax-collectors – who were as popular back then as they are now – and turned in one metaphorical allegory the word ‘Samaritan’ from meaning a loathed and reviled strange sub-cult of Judaism to a by-word for ethical goodness.

    Jesus healed the sick, displayed enormous kindness and charity, rejected violence and used non-violent resistence long before Mahatma Gandhi. he also talked with and showed respect for women and even seemed to support the separation of Church[or Synagogue / Temple] – and State ?Empire. “render unro Caesar what is Caesars and unto God what is Gods.” (Won’t voich for thatas an exact quote but something like that. btw.)

    *That* religion founded on *that* individual using Rabbi JESUS’es teachings.

    How did that ever end up producing so many such nasty, hate -filled, gun-toting abortion-guns-and-teh-ghays-obsessed nutters? :-(

    ———————
    * Edite dtonote : he said thos ewholive by thesword die by thesword didn’t he? Jesus also healed the amputated ear of a soldier who seized him when Jesus’es friend cut it off. Plus from the cross as he was dying in ahumilating publicexecution he supposedly said “Forgive them father for theydon’t know what they;re doing.” So we have love and forgiveness to enemies, respect and revelation for the rejected outsiders, a rejectuion of using militray force to seize power and arejectionof selfishness with his followers exhorted to serve and be humble instead.

    Really how does that tally with so many self-professed fanatical “Christ-ian” folks on the “religious” political “right” wing?

    PPS. I’m not even Christian butagnostic and this is my understanding of things.

  43. @Messier Tidy Upper: Shhh, don’t tell the GOP, but the Jesus in that story book sounds a lot like a socialist! :o

  44. Larry

    A pledge of allegiance is, by itself, ridiculous. Rote mouthing of a bunch of words does not, by itself, make one love one’s country nor make one unwaveringly loyal to it. It most certainly doesn’t affect the behavior of those who say it. Adding references to invisible sky pixies can neither add nor detract from its meaninglessness.

  45. Gary Ansorge

    ,,,and yet, Phils point is still applicable; Under God is a divider, that which separates one nation from indivisible.

    Good call, Phil.

    Gary 7

  46. D’oh typos! Oops, sorry. :-(

    ***

    “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is Gods.” (Won’t vouch for that as an exact quote but something like that. btw.)

    Edited [back then not here!] to note : He [Jesus] said : “Those who live by the sword die by the sword” didn’t he?

    Jesus also healed the amputated ear of a soldier who seized him when Jesus’es friend and follower cut it off. Plus from the cross as he was dying in a humilating, public torture and execution combined, he supposedly said : “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.”

    (EDITED TO ADD : Which, btw. I think is one of the very *greatest* things Jesus ever apparently said and something that most demonstrates what Jesus was *really* all about given the circumstances. He’s been betrayed, tortured, is dying in agony unjustly and yet his thoughts and wishes are of compassion and forgiveness towards those responsible for crucifying him. That’s pretty mind-blowing ain’t it?)

    Note there : Jesus did NOT call for centuries of bloodthirsty cruel revenge and repression against the children of the people who supposedly were to blame and were, not-coincidentally, his own family,friends and culture. (Or even the Roman empire that actually, y’know performed the crucification along with so many others incl/. Christians.)

    I gather there’s meant to be a verse of scripture somewhere justifying the subsequent anti-Semitic, Judaeophobic pogroms, etc, culminating in the Shoah something like one of the crowd (at the scene at the time!) saying “May Jesus blood be on our heads!”

    … But even so, *that’s* meant to over-ride (almost!) the very last words and wishes that Jesus ever said? Really? :roll: :-(

    … a rejection (by Teacher Jesus’es words & example) of using military force to seize power and a rejection of selfishness with his followers exhorted to serve others and be humble instead.

    PS. I’m not even Christian but am agnostic and this is my understanding of things. It is based on being both Christian and athiest at various times in my life and on much reading and thinking on the subject. Oddly, I had a oddly apt-ish typo there “sin my life” for a second.

    PPS. Incidentally, biblical Literalists might want to note that Rabbi Jesus ordered his followers to be “fishers of men.” Taken literally then, I guess that has to mean Real True Christians are ordered by Christ Himself to go fishig with a baited line or with trawlers & nets at sea and on lakes etc .. trying to catch scuba-divers, snorklers and swimmers? Only male ones of course too! No? ;-)

  47. Josh

    @Messier Tidy Upper: I am a Christian, and was raised Catholic. Your understanding seems very accurate from where I stand. I did leave the Catholic church because so many of their doctrines seem to be not quite in line with Jesus’ teachings. I still believe in something, and am more Christian than truly agnostic. I don’t agree with atheists, but who knows, maybe they’re the ones who are right. We won’t know until the end. That is, if there is a God, we will know, if there’s not, we can’t know anything once we’re dead.

  48. @39. Utakata Says:
    [July 12th, 2010 at 10:26 am}

    I’m not sure how one would put “under” of something that is supposed to be everywhere.

    Or how if God is really all-powerful and all knowing *any* nation can be alone in being “under God” – or excepted from it somehow. If the USA is “under God” what about Israel (that kind of beat them to having a special relationship with God by many centuries according to the Bible too!) or for that matter what about Australia or India or Egypt or Zimbabwe or even, gasp, Belgium! ;-)

    I’ll also just add if I may that I like to imagine that when Jesus apparently said “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do”, he was meaning what they (or even “we”?) do to *everyone* and not just about what they were doing to himself only.

    My interpretation is, of course, just that. I don’t claim to have any special qualifications or insight here, just my musings on the subject.

  49. Gary Ansorge

    45. Josh

    “That is, if there is a God, we will know, if there’s not, we can’t know anything once we’re dead.”

    Another way to put that is:

    “There are only two things in life you need worry about;either you’re healthy or you’re sick.
    If you’re healthy, you’ve no problem. If you’re sick, you only have to worry whether you’ll get better or worse.
    If you get better, you’ve no problem. If you get worse, you need only worry if you’ll live or die.
    If you live, you have no problem. If you die, you need only worry about going to heaven or hell.
    If you go to heaven, you need not worry. If you go to hell, you’ll be too damn busy shaking hands with all your friends to worry.”

    ,,,and if there is nothing after corporeal death, you’ll have no worries either, because you’ll never know you’re dead.

    Gary 7
    On the other hand, if there IS any kind of existence after
    death”, you may not know that either.For those who have had the SME(Spontaneous Mystical Experience,(Cute, eh? I just invented that)), which appears to occur when the brain is convinced it’s dying, the resultant experience of existing again results in an ambiguous experience,ie, am I alive or dead? I choose to “believe” I’m alive.

  50. RMcbride

    Many people have commented to me that the pledge of alligence was around since the founding. So in their belief system America has only been around since the 1950’s.

  51. BJN

    Pledge allegiance to the “flag”? Talk about idolatry. And it’s not a metaphor for pledging allegiance to the country because that’s in the “and to the United States of America” part.

    I hate the whole jingoistic idea of a prayer to the state. That’s made worse by turning into a religious incantation too.

    What’s covered under “allegiance” anyway?

  52. Messier Tidy Upper

    I do agree with much of what Fred Clark of the “Slacktivist” blog writes if I’m allowed to recommend his blog here. (I’m pretty sure a few other regulars here are already regulars there too! ;-) ) He’s an evangelical Christian who has made many years work for himself deconstructing the very nasty and badly written but unfortunately best-selling “Christian” (or one very odd and – I think – atypical sect of “Christianity”) disaster-porn Left behind series or as he calls them the World’s Worst books ever!

    See : http://slacktivist.typepad.com/slacktivist/left_behind/

    This might sound kind of dull and preachy but its actually very easy reading and full of lots of humour and participation by a net-community of quirky, talented people. :-)

  53. The Supreme Court has ruled that children cannot be forced to recite the Pledge (West Virginia Board of Education Vs Barnette). When I was in Florida, they passed a law that teachers must lead children in the Pledge…children have freedom of conscience but not teachers? I taught at private schools so was not effected by the law (covered only public schools of course).

    However, there were times the Pledge was said at student assemblies. I never said any of it (not saying “Under God” only seems like a cop out, a protest designed so that no one sees it). Some students thought I was a Jehovah’s Witness (laughable with my Darwin fish and rainbow flag bumper stickers, among others).

    Occasionally a student would ask why I didn’t say the pledge and I would go into all the political reasons which include more than just the phrase “Under God”. The most common reaction of students were remarks along the lines of, “Hmmm…I never thought of it that way.” I liked my students! I never had one of them go complain to their parents about that commie teacher either.

    Strangely enough, the only opposition I got was not from students or even the administration, but lower school teachers (it was a prek-12 school). It wasn’t couched in political terms so much as a we all should just go along argument. They just seemed to like people who didn’t rock the boat, even if rocking the boat was just done by silence.

  54. Here a video talking about this issue….

  55. RobertM.

    Interesting. I don’t recite the pledge anymore, but for me it has to do with that word “indivisible.”

  56. Terry

    I think that about stuffs it. Calling Jesus a socialist is stupid because no one has ever suggested that someone believing in charity is socialism. Socialism is Robin Hood logic. Rob the rich (so they can rob the middle some more) to give to the poor. Charity is FREELY giving of yourself, not FREELY TAKING OF ONE PERSON to give to another.

    Second, to Messier: I’m sorry that you hate my religion. I don’t hate atheism. I think that it is misguided, but I don’t hate it. Christianity is a religion based on non-violence. Those that love Christianity are non-violent. They believe in spreading the gospel of sacrifice and non-violence. The problem is that human beings like to control other human beings and all modes of attempts to reduce that violence are used by those who like to control to exert control. They are used to belittle people who believe otherwise, attack those people, and in some cases make those people inhuman so they can be attacked.

    That human truth has nothing to do with religion, economic creed, political belief, or moral code except in that some philosophies are better at controlling it than others. Even liberalism, the political concept that births toleration in Western thought, has the violence justified in some contexts and has been used to exert control of one people over another and to cause a large amount of senseless killing (French Revolution). That does not invalidate liberalism, just recalls the nature of people.

  57. Bart

    I always find it ironic that many people who do not believe in a “higher being” (to keep it general) always seem to feel that religious people are trying to force their beliefs on them. Yet, it is the people who do not believe that are the ones trying to force their beliefs on religious people by removing any traces of religion from public expressions, such as including “under God” in the pledge, or saying Merry Christmas, etc.

    Who are the ones that are actually being intolerant again?

  58. The Mad LOLScientist, FCD

    The irony. It BUUUUURRRRRNNZZZZ. =^..^=

  59. @Bart

    Yet, it is the people who do not believe that are the ones trying to force their beliefs on religious people by removing any traces of religion from public expressions, such as including “under God” in the pledge, or saying Merry Christmas, etc.

    Straw man. The argument is not to exclude public expressions of religion, but rather governmental expressions of religion. For example, government passing a law that inserts “under God” into the Pledge of Allegiance violates the First Amendment and is, therefore, unconstitutional. Likewise if government puts up religious iconography using public funds. Individuals and private businesses and institutions are fully within their rights to display whatever religious expressions they desire. The government, however, is restricted from doing the same, thanks to the First Amendment.

    So, it is not intolerance of religion, but rather intolerance of violations of the Constitution.

  60. Kelson

    Congratulations, Bart: You’ve just proved that you can’t be bothered to read the previous comments!

    In particular, take a look at Larian LeQuella’s comment with the essay about freedom from religion.

    Edit: And Todd W’s much more succinct post that went up while I was typing this.

  61. Guys, I was considering letting this site have my domain name “Astrogear.com” but I first wanted to see what the tone of the group running it was. You have convinced me that I would be contributing to further persecution and lies about what religious people are all about. This has nothing to do with science or astronomy, a discipline I have loved and pursued since my elementary days. It is once more a common pro-atheistic site bent on bashing “ignorant Christians”. Your statement “And it’s not just us atheists; lots of thoughtful religious people (not an oxymoron) don’t like that stuff either”, was an obvious attempt at a slur towards people of faith, who you believe are not capable of serious thought and reasoning powers. Forget the domain thing. I would keep it forever before contributing to such slander and misinformation.

  62. Mapnut

    Sorry, Bart, I don’t quite understand you. Your religious beliefs are being harmed by not being included in school prayer, a national pledge, and holiday displays on public property? I think you need to strengthen your beliefs. I don’t think it’s the government’s responsibility to help you.

  63. Patrick

    Setting aside the God bit for a moment — doesn’t the idea of requiring schoolchildren to repeat the same words seem like the opposite of Liberty?

  64. DS

    A wise man once said, that it’s not our place to hope we are on god’s side, but that god is on our side.

    A wiser man would have said that both are bunk.

  65. Terry

    There is a whole school of liberal philosophy that deals with children and youths. In the concepts of Liberalism, however, requiring kids to _go to school_ is a challenge to Liberty. What has to be accepted is that there are some invasions of Liberty that support the common good, such as the universal provision of good education among other things.

    Likewise, the United States is a country without a unified nation. It is a collection of different national ideals that were artificially joined together by social engineering in the Constitution and patriotic celebrations into one concept of a ‘melting pot’. The rhetoric of America supports those concepts. Like education, the needs to engender national ideals is weighed against the costs to liberty. Some agree with that, like me, others don’t.

    Step beyond the pledge to other forms of indoctrination, and its pretty obvious that the impact of commercials on our children does much more to culturallize Americans these days. Not every kid can repeat the pledge, but most of them can sing the McDonald’s jingles and probably even Solja Boy (but I think i’m a year out of date there). McWorld is taking over, big time.

  66. mmg3

    I’m sure no one will mind if we make it “One Nation under Allah”, right? I mean, they’re not forcing God on anyone by legislating the inclusion of the phrase, so what’s the big deal?

  67. Daffy

    When the Pledge of Allegiance is recited, I stand mute. Not out of disrespect! Quite the opposite; I believe NOT reciting it shows what is REALLY important and good in this country: the freedom to disagree with the majority.

    People who assault someone for burning the flag are the ones who are truly disrespecting it.

  68. Gregory G.

    “…one nation under God indivisible…” means that those who believe in God and those who don’t are not one nation. Not only we are divisible, we are already divided.

    Now, if the passage included “or not” then we would be one nation. As in “…one nation under God, or not, indivisible..”

    Or we can keep government out of the god business.

  69. The Pledge of Allegiance is really just a big ball of irony, if you study its history. “And now, class, rise and recite these words written by Socialist Francis Bellamy…”

  70. QuietDesperation

    I’m not sure how one would put “under” of something that is supposed to be everywhere.

    It’s depends on which value of everywhere you mean.

    It’s like how mathematicians use different infinities. There’s countable and uncountable infinities, for example. You can have infinities that are bigger than other infinities.

    For example, the set of positive integers (1, 2, 3, 4, …) is infinite. The set of positive even integers (2, 4, 6, 8, …) is also infinite, but smaller than the previous set. Savvy?

    So, by extension, you can have underable and non-underable supreme deities. The “God” referred t0 in the pledge is an underable type.

    I hope this helps.

    So be careful, kids. When one holy warrior or another says their god is bigger than yours, they might have the maths on their side! :shock:

  71. QuietDesperation

    The Pledge of Allegiance is really just a big ball of irony, if you study its history. “And now, class, rise and recite these words…

    “My fellow citizens, I have something to say. It’s better to burn out, than fade away!”

  72. Gus Snarp

    Interestingly, the words “under God” in the pledge come from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Its use there was a common phrase at the time meaning something akin to “God willing”. So what it is really saying is: “One nation, God willing, indivisible”. Something that the guy who put those words in the pledge didn’t even understand.

    I stand with those who favor eliminating the pledge in schools altogether. It’s creepy and absurd to have our school children stand every single day and pledge there allegiance to the flag in some kind of bizarre loyalty oath. How many other countries do this?

  73. Matt T

    @QD (71)
    Except that the even natural numbers can be put into a 1-to-1 correspondence with the natural numbers. So there’s the same number of them, even though there’s more of one than the other! Hah. Do not mess with infinity — lest it mess with you.

    (In math speak, the cardinality of both sets is aleph-0.)

    Speaking of mind-bending mathematics… I have to agree with Daffy (#68): pledging allegiance to a state with a constitutional right of free opinion (ie dissidence) is the kind of self-referential paradox that would make Bertrand Russell cry.

  74. Miles

    @Terry Freedom of religion requires freedom from religion. When Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Baptists of Danburry, Connecticut, he promised them freedom of religion by way of promising them freedom from the religion of their neighbors, the Congregationalists of Danburry, Connecticut.
    I’m quite happy to hear your insistence that Christianity is based on non-violence and non-coercion. Unfortunately, until the European Wars of Reformation and the secular Enlightenment dragged Christianity into the modern era, this was not the case. Or do you doubt that Aquinas was unlearned in Christian texts when he advocated torturing heretics? “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth, but a sword” and “The wages of sin is death” and “Wrongdoers you shall not suffer to live” were clearly understood as direct instruction, not metaphor as modern Christianity has twisted them. A thousand years of the Dark Ages, a dozen Crusades, and six centuries of the Inquisition attest to that. I mean damn that last sentence could come straight out of the over-the-top boasting of a Greek myth, but no, it is an accurate description of the result of widespread, unchallenged Christianity.

    @GusSnarp I agree, the pledge is jingoistic imo. Not just the pledge, but history textbooks and our media are constantly reinforcing the idea of American Exceptionalism, that our ideals are so superior that we can ignore our allies protests and force our values on our enemies. I support the ideals and values of America, but by reasoned argument, not force. Whatever else Terry and I disagree on, nonviolence is a positive thing to strive for at all times.

  75. Joey Joe Joe

    I pledge to One Nation, under Dog.

    Dogs kick ass.

  76. Szwagier

    @77.

    No, no, no. Dogs Lick ass!

  77. I say the “under God” was snuck in between “one nation” and “indivisible” to break down their meaning, so a certain part of the country wouldn’t have to be reminded of their history of treason.

    But seeing that the whole thing was a publicity gimmick for “Youth’s Companion” magazine, and “Youth’s Companion” went out of business in 1929, it all seems like an exercise in futility.

  78. jcm, the Center for Inquiry put up one of their “Good Without God” billboards in Tucson earlier this year. I am happy to say it was not vandalized the entire time it was up.

    A Christian felt the need to respond and he purchased an ad on the same billboard that ran right after the CFI one. I don’t have a problem with what he did (Well, I rolled my eyes but I didn’t feel the need to go and rip it down or anything…he had every right to spend his money that way if he wanted to) and that ad was not vandalized either.

  79. Steve in Dublin

    Allen Epling (#62):

    Guys, I was considering letting this site have my domain name “Astrogear.com” but I first wanted to see what the tone of the group running it was. You have convinced me that I would be contributing to further persecution and lies about what religious people are all about. This has nothing to do with science or astronomy, a discipline I have loved and pursued since my elementary days.

    And what makes you think the Bad Astronomer would be even remotely interested in your domain name? Bad Astronomy is his raison d’etre. That’s OK, Allen. You can take your ball and go home now. But please read this first.

  80. Ah, found the other freedom of/from essay that’s a bit more biting:

    The most important thing to remember is that freedom of religion, if it is going to apply to everyone, also requires freedom from religion. Why is that? You do not truly have the freedom to practice your religious beliefs if you are also required to adhere to any of the religious beliefs or rules of other religions.

    As an obvious example, could we really say that Jews and Muslims would have freedom of religion if they were required to show same respect to images of Jesus that Christians have? Would Christians and Muslims really have freedom of their religion if they were required to wear yarmulkes? Would Christians and Jews have freedom of religion if they were required to adhere to Muslim dietary restrictions?

    Simply pointing out that people have the freedom to pray however they wish is not enough. Forcing people to accept some particular idea or adhere to behavioral standards from someone else’s religion means that their religious freedom is being infringed upon.

    Freedom from religion does not mean, as some mistakenly seem to claim, being free from seeing religion in society. No one has the right not to see churches, religious expression, and other examples of religious belief in our nation — and those who advocate freedom of religion do not claim otherwise.

    What freedom from religion does mean, however, is the freedom from the rules and dogmas of other people’s religious beliefs so that we can be free to follow the demands of our own conscience, whether they take a religious form or not. Thus, we have both freedom of religion and freedom from religion because they are two sides of the same coin.

    Interestingly, the misunderstandings here can be found in many other myths, misconceptions and misunderstandings as well. Many people don’t realize — or don’t care — that real religious liberty must exist for everyone, not just for themselves. It’s no coincidence that people who object to the principle of “freedom from religion” are adherents of religious groups whose doctrines or standards would be the ones enforced by the state.

    Since they already voluntarily accept these doctrines or standards, they don’t expect to experience any conflicts with state enforcement or endorsement. What we have, then, is a failure of moral imagination: these people are unable to really imagine themselves in the shoes of religious minorities who don’t voluntarily accept these doctrines or standards and, hence, experience an infringement on their religious liberties through state enforcement or endorsement.

    That, or they simply don’t care what religious minorities experience because they think they have the One True Religion. And maybe that’s their point?

  81. Jurjen S.

    @ Messier Tidy Upper: Regarding Jesus and bearing arms, try Luke 22:
    [blockquote]36 Then said he to them, ‘But, now, he who is having a bag, let him take [it] up, and in like manner also a scrip; and he who is not having, let him sell his garment, and buy a sword,

    37 for I say to you, that yet this that hath been written it behoveth to be fulfilled in me: And with lawless ones he was reckoned, for also the things concerning me have an end.’

    38 And they said, ‘Sir, lo, here [are] two swords;’ and he said to them, ‘It is sufficient.’

    (Young’s Literal Translation)[/blockquote]
    Of course, given the inconsistencies between the gospels, resulting from the respective agendas of their authors, you can quote-mine what Jesus supposedly said to support just about any position.

    Jesus didn’t mention homosexuality, no, but the Pauline epistles do, and even though Paul’s writings are less than consistent with material attributed to Jesus (to the point of being in direct contradiction), they are part of the canon.

  82. Steve Morrison

    Alan Epling @62:

    Your statement “And it’s not just us atheists; lots of thoughtful religious people (not an oxymoron) don’t like that stuff either”, was an obvious attempt at a slur towards people of faith, who you believe are not capable of serious thought and reasoning powers.

    You parsed that sentence incorrectly; it means the very opposite of what you took it to mean.

  83. Jess Tauber

    All mute (er, moot….). The newest of my models of the periodic system require what is known as the compound of five tetrahedra, seated inside a dodecahedron, with the dual icosahedron as the intersection of the five tetrahedra. Of these five one is the reference tetrahedron, mapping mathematically regularly all the elements in terms of quantum numbers. The other four then interact via shadows/projections and intersections to give non-quantum effects (such as those that are due to relativistic mass increase of electrons).

    But the point is that the dodecahedron is intimately linked with Phi, and the pentagram! Material reality is driven by the Devil! Satan is a chemist! Here’s proof: if you take the Fibonacci sequence and map it to the periodic table thusly, 1,1,2__3,5,8__13,21,34__55,89,144 (i.e. in triplets) the following pattern emerges- the first two numbers in each triplet correspond to the first element of the first half-subshell of its block (first singlet electron). The third on the other hand corresponds to the first element of the second half-subshell (first doublet electron). The system works up to 89, after which it gets more complex. That it works at all is a major coincidence if it really has nothing to do with the Fib sequence. Be aware though that Phi often has to do with packing of parts in the most efficient way possible when both the numbers and the size of the units increases. Not only found in plant and animal growth patterns, but also in natural crystals and quasicrystals, coordination compounds, etc.

    There is also a pattern for Lucas numbers (note 29 and 47 are copper and silver respectively- the third member isn’t Gold, though, yet IS the first element of the second half of its block again), and interactions between Lucas and Fib numbers are lawful within the system.

    While we’re at it note that the neutron/proton ratio also converges on Phi as it gets very high (for real elements).

    In any case, one can get all the magic numbers (both nuclear and electronic) with Pascal triangle diagonals, just as one can also produce the Fib numbers using Pascal’s triangle too.

    We are One Nation, Under Dan Brown, and Prof. Langdon!

  84. doofus

    Originally, I didn’t think Robin Hood was described as a socialist.

    I thought he robbed the representatives of the kingdom, who overly taxed the citizens, giving the money back to the citizens.

  85. Blizno

    “14. Terry Says:
    July 12th, 2010 at 8:42 am

    @Grand Lunar, Where in the political writings of any of the founding fathers but (outcast) Thomas Paine, did it say the freedom of religion was freedom from religion. Freedom of religion was meant to make the GOVERNMENT secular because the government, in Jefferson’s view, was not supposed to be the culture. The debates of the founding fathers focused quite a bit on deism as a religious principle, and definitely focused on toleration, but did not call for freedom from religion.”
    I will agree with you if agree with me that one’s freedom to be free from all religion is protected in USA exactly the same as anybody else’s freedom to adhere to any religion.

    “@ Daffy: And Stalin and Mao and their death tolls was inspired by a deep seated secular belief.”
    WROOONNNNGGGG!!!!
    Stalin and Mao did what they did in order to consolidate power under their own talons. They did NOT murder huge numbers of their own citizens because of secular belief, come ON!

    “The beauty in America is that we argue with unbelievers (Atheists argue against non-atheists just as much) rather than kill them, generally.”
    Hasn’t this been obvious since the beginning of USA; that everybody is free to believe anything or not to believe according to their own conscience, with no governmental interference, such as by promoting any one religion over any others (Ten Commandments displays, anybody)?
    This is the crux of the whole issue. US government is expressly forbidden to raise any one religion above other religions, or the absence of religion, or even to imply any such raising. Of course all religious displays must be barred from all government property. Of course forcing “Under God” or “In God we Trust” into government practices is utterly unconstitutional.

    Why is this even being discussed? Should we change US currency to say “Allah is great and Muhammad is His only Prophet” instead of “In God we Trust”? Can we require school children to chant “Satan is my Master” before class?
    No, we cannot, because the Constitution forbids government favoring any religion over any others, or no religion. That includes Christianity, of course.

    Lastly, asking any American, even a child, to pledge allegiance to USA is atrocious.
    USA belongs to US citizens. US citizens do not belong to USA. If any US citizen doesn’t like the way USA is heading, that citizen has the right to complain, and even shout defiance.
    USA is tasked with obeying the will of its citizens, not the other way around.

  86. QuietDesperation

    Except that the even natural numbers can be put into a 1-to-1 correspondence with the natural numbers.

    Blasphemer!!1!ONE!

  87. Kemp

    I have always wondered how can scientists be atheists.

    Would it not be more “scientifically sound” to be agnostic?

    I don’t think you will ever in a million years or more, be able to prove inconclusively that there is no Creator.

    Secondly, it is going to get very chilly and dark, now that you have thrown out and decided that putting faith in God had no role in making this country the most advanced nation on Earth. One that all nations used to look towards for inspiration.

  88. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ 57. Terry Says:

    Second, to Messier: I’m sorry that you hate my religion.

    Er .. WHAT!? [insert surprised emoticon here which I don’t know how to do!]

    Where did I say that in any of my comments above? I don’t get how you can draw that false conclusion from my words here, I really don’t. If you really think that’s what *I* think or have said above then please point it out to me because it is certainly NOT how *I* feel. :-(

    For the record, I do not “hate” or even dislike Christianity. While I’m not a Christian, I do think that Christianity has much to offer that is good and says many worthwhile things I’m just not totally convinced or a believing Christian myself.

    I’m not an atheist either but agnostic. I don’t claim to know with any certainty that there is *no* God nor that there *is* a God but say only that I’m not sure and not willing to draw firm conclusions either way.

    I don’t hate atheism. I think that it is misguided, but I don’t hate it. Christianity is a religion based on non-violence. Those that love Christianity are non-violent. They believe in spreading the gospel of sacrifice and non-violence.

    I agree with you on that. Fully. :-)

    I would just add that I think a lot of people don’t understand this idea of Christianity and have a very different and much less pleasant and reasonable view of it because they misunderstand or don’t get that idea in your paragraph above & my own posts 42 & 46 here.

    I’ll also add that I think just as many so-called “Christians” misunderstand the religion they claim to be following there are many atheists who misunderstand and don’t appreciate what Christianity actually is and who attack strawmen of their own imagination rather the real Christian faith. (Richard Dawkin’s I think is one example of an atheist who burns “christian” strawmen in place of having any real, more nuanced & sophisticated understanding of what Christianity really is.)

    The problem is that human beings like to control other human beings and all modes of attempts to reduce that violence are used by those who like to control to exert control. They are used to belittle people who believe otherwise, attack those people, and in some cases make those people inhuman so they can be attacked.

    I think I even agree with you here too insofar as I can work out what it is you are actually trying to say.

    Lets see if I’ve followed you correctly here :

    You’re saying people like to try to control others.
    (That part of what you wrote I get clearly.)

    That they attempt to gain this control over others this by various means –

    and that this always results in negative effects and in harm and belittlement to these others

    even when the people attempting to control others are hoping to achieve good ends.

    And that *that* is wrong and unethical.

    (I found this bit is a lot less clear and very hard to follow from what you wrote.)

    Is that a fair understanding of what you’re trying to say?
    Would you mind rephrasing and clarifying your thoughts there please?

  89. Dagger

    @89 The onus is not on “proving” there is no god. That’s an oxymoron. Science doesn’t prove anything by the way. It provides evidence and theory that suggests the outcome of experimentation to explain how something operates. Science will never be able to “prove” the existance of god because there is simply no evidence at all on the subject.

  90. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ 83. Jurjen S. Says:
    July 12th, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    “@ Messier Tidy Upper: Regarding Jesus and bearing arms, try Luke 22:

    36 Then said he to them, ‘But, now, he who is having a bag, let him take [it] up, and in like manner also a scrip; and he who is not having, let him sell his garment, and buy a sword,

    37 for I say to you, that yet this that hath been written it behoveth to be fulfilled in me: And with lawless ones he was reckoned, for also the things concerning me have an end.’

    38 And they said, ‘Sir, lo, here [are] two swords;’ and he said to them, ‘It is sufficient.’

    (Young’s Literal Translation)

    Of course, given the inconsistencies between the gospels, resulting from the respective agendas of their authors, you can quote-mine what Jesus supposedly said to support just about any position.

    ***

    Okay, thanks. :-)

    Sadly that last line is all too true.

    Which is one reason why biblical literalism doesn’t work. There are also the issues of (mis)translations from the original Hebrew / Aramaic, Greek, Latin etc .. into English and so on. Plus the fact that what we have are remembered quotations recorded in the New Testament by various people long after the events occurred and the words were originally spoken.

    Which is why we have to look at the surrounding context and the bigger picture of Jesus’es life and beliefs as we understand them.

    If we assume for a minute that Rabbi Jesus could have brought an army of angels down on the Romans and used them to create an unstoppable military force or to lead his followers on some crusade to free Judea by force – then he chose not to do so.

    Instead he preached sermons urging peace and love, engaged with and helped the poor and healed the sick and stood up for the social outcasts, the downtrodden or less highly regarded. Jesus famously said “Turn the other cheek”, “love thy neighbour” & “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” These seem to be the key elements of his philosophy to me.

    If I recall right, Teacher Jesus was also pretty oppposed to ostentatious public prayers saying something like these people are seeking social approval and that – not heavenly riches – is their reward. Rabbi Jesus preferred, from my understanding a private approach to religion focused on ones own sins and seeking forgiveness for them not worrying about the “mote in thy neighbours eye” but instead “the beam in thy own.

    This seems to have implications for this pledge of alligenace topic here and, more broadly, for the rightwing conservative Christians more worried about teh ghays and abortion and creationism rather than making sure they’re loving their neighbour and *not* judging them as Jesus Himself urged them. ;-)

    When Rabbi Jesus did use force and get really angry and upset it was when he saw religion being exploited for personal financial gain – the incident with the money-changers in the Temple.

    Jesus also seems to have been was angry at and attacked by the Pharises – now pretty much a by-word for hypocrites and at the time one of the ruling religious groups. The Teacher Jesus, it seems to me, was basically a rebel preaching a more tolerant, forgiving, more compassionate less legalistic and ritualistic vision of what religious faith could be. For this (and also for “hubristic” and “blasphemous” or so they would’ve seen it claims to be “King” and “God”) the religious authorities at the time conspired with the Roman Imperial authorities (who fearered a Jesus led political revolt or military insurgency) to have Rabbi Jesus arrested, convicted and publicly executed.

    Theimpression iget is that I don’t think Jesus if he returned would support the actions of the televanelists and “Religious Right” spokespeople. I don’t think his mainpriiorituy would be abortionor gay marriage bit rather povertyy and equality and injustice. That’s my impression and opinion anyhow.

    Jesus didn’t mention homosexuality, no, but the Pauline epistles do, and even though Paul’s writings are less than consistent with material attributed to Jesus (to the point of being in direct contradiction), they are part of the canon.

    Well I’ll take Jesus’es non-issue tretament over it over Paul’s later words. There is a school of thought incl. Bishop Spong (spelling -name?) that consider it highly probable that Paul was himself a repressed homosexual. I’ll go with the “red letter” Jesus perspective not the Pauline one here.

    PS. If you want to create blockquotes etc .. here you use the greater than. & lesser than brackets > < not the square ones. Hope that helps.

  91. Gonzo

    No one was offended by it. Kids don’t care one way or the other and no one got brainwashed. In other words, those two words haven’t divided anyone, IMO, other than that uptight athiest in California looking for a fight.

    You seem to know quite a lot about what other people think. Sylvia Browne, is that you?

    and if one of those morals is patriotism, good

    “Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious.” ~Oscar Wilde

    Unfettered patriotism has led to all sorts of jingoistic nonsense. It appears the brainwashing was completed long ago.

  92. @ ^ Gonzo :

    Here’s some more quotes on Patriotism via a wiki-linked search engine:

    “Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels.” ~ William Samuel Johnson

    “Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.” ~ George Washington

    “True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.” ~ Clarence Darrow

    “We do not consider patriotism desirable if it contradicts civilized behavior.” ~ Friedrich Durrenmatt

    “Totalitarianism is patriotism institutionalized.” ~ Steve Allen

    “Patriotism is the religion of hell.” ~ James Branch Cabell

    ———

    Click my name for more examples & the source webpage.

  93. Szwagier

    @89 Would it not be more “scientifically sound” to be agnostic?

    Straw man. Are we also supposed to be agnostic about fairies, leprechauns, elves, alien abductions, Loch Ness monsters, yetis, homeopathy, water diving, tarot cards, talking mice… I could list hundreds of these?

    Atheist scientists absolutely do NOT say there are no god/gods/fairies/leprechauns/etc etc etc. What they say is that there is a) no evidence for such beings and therefore b) no reason to believe in them.

    Different statement, see?

    Aha, and c) For any future evidence which might appear to confirm a), there is almost bound to be a better explanation than belief in god/gods/fairies/leprechauns/etc etc etc, which is, as explanations go, a pretty lousy one.

  94. Szwagier

    “water diving”? Where’s my coffee? Water divining. Doh.

  95. Ian

    The sight of hundreds of schoolchildren chanting at a flag always freaks me out. Religion or not, it looks like something out of the Soviet era, at least to this Brit anyway.

  96. Thorny

    Interesting. My first 6 years of school happened in the USSR, and there was nothing like a daily recitation of a pledge. Sure, many texts we read and wrote were patriotically enhanced, so to say, but there was no routine submission to anything. I have to say, it does sound silly to me that a manifestly Western country, built upon the ideals of liberty and freedom, outperforms the USSR in an aspect of indoctrination.

  97. Gus Snarp

    @Kemp – You misunderstand the meaning of the words “agnostic” and “atheist”. An atheist is one who does not believe in god(s). An agnostic is one who argues that they cannot know certain information (usually about the existence of god(s)) with certainty. The two terms are in no way mutually exclusive. An atheist can be agnostic, so can a believer. I do not believe there is a god, however, I do not know for certain. That makes me an agnostic atheist, a rather common position. Someone could also say they believe in God, but do not know for certain. That makes them an agnostic believer. For a scientist, disbelief should be the default position. Until shown adequate evidence, a scientist does not believe a particular hypothesis. Once sufficient evidence has been provided, then they believe the established theory. So the default scientific position is agnostic atheism. You are confused because the popular use of the word agnostic lately is to describe one of two groups of people – agnostic atheists who are afraid of the connotations of the word atheist and therefore will not use it, and “spiritual” types who think there is “something” they don’t understand, but don’t have a particular religion. Both of these may be agnostic, but they don’t represent the full breadth of what agnostic means.

  98. Gus Snarp

    @Ian – You want creepy, check the photo on the Wikipedia site for the pledge of allegiance that shows kids doing it with the “Bellamy Salute” created by the creator of the pledge.

  99. Terry

    @doofus: I was referring to the mentality, not the acts of Robin Hood (a literary character and cultural icon who can be whatever you want him to be). In most 20th century stories of Robin Hood, however, he makes little distinction between the Sheriff’s men and other nobles, robbing the rich at random. I don’t know enough (and don’t want to prove my ignorance by trying to be a Wikipedia expert) about earlier representations but my understanding was that the give to the poor wasn’t really a part of them. That was for us Americans.

    @Blizno (87): My point was that Stalin and Mao used the words of pacifist, secularist, and (misguided) humanist Marx as an excuse to secure that power. Daffy had mentioned the Spanish Inquisition, crusades, 9/11, witch burning, etc, for it as a means to show that religion is deadly. Probably would have been better to point out the French Wars of Religion since more died in those than all the others. Also, all of those were arguably much more much about power and economics than about religion at all. My point was that non-religious beliefs can be likewise abused by the twisted, as with Mao (possibly as many as 76.9 million dead) and Stalin (7-35 million dead), not that Mao and Stalin killed others because they were secularists. In fact, manifest destiny, state sovereignty, and international trade have killed more people each than all the religious pretexts he named together. People suck, governments need to keep people from sucking too bad, not exacerbate their suckage.

    @Messier: Sorry for my claim that you hated Christianity. I think, when I read the comment about Jesus the socialist a couple down I got upset and over-reacted. Also about the lack of clarity in my argumentation, that’s just exhaustion. I was up all night writing a paper for my Int relations class and probably didn’t get my point down right. It was all clear in here, but not on there.

    You asked that I clarify what I mean when I said: “The problem is that human beings like to control other human beings and all modes of attempts to reduce that violence are used by those who like to control to exert control. They are used to belittle people who believe otherwise, attack those people, and in some cases make those people inhuman so they can be attacked. ”

    It does definitely need to be rephrased. Put plainly, I believe that human beings, in general and not in uniformly, like to have control over other human beings. They do this by violence, trickery, domination, or a dozen other means. Some are better at it and they gain dominance and in their era they become the elites. Some eras are violent eras and the elites are thugs. Other times, because of the pacification of the people, the elites are more effete because learning keeps up the control of the masses. Those that are dominated over are the common people. Regardless of the nature of the elites, when the people begin to slip the leash, violence is again the way to regain control.

    The irony comes when this basic nature of man to try to control each other through violence is tempered by philosophies steeped in non-violence, those philosophies are twisted to allow violence because it supports the needs of one group to lead. For example, the precepts of Buddhism are innately pacific, but Buddhists kill large numbers of Muslims and Christians in India in riots every couple of years.

    That said, the domination of one people over another does not always equal harm and belittlement of another. The concepts of liberalism were abused in France to create the Reign of Terror. We are justified in terrifying you because we only want to help you. In the United States, they led to abuses as well, but others have tried to guard against those abuses. That is what you need. You need a constant watch on those in charge to make sure they don’t abuse that power. Nothing new in that thought; that is why we have freedom of the press, the right to assemble, and the right to bear arms. Liberalism is supposed to be about rights, but it is also supposed to be about responsibility, including the responsibility to make sure government does not become a tyranny.

  100. Robert Carnegie

    It means you can’t see him.

  101. NOYB

    Turn in all of your money then. Each coin and paper bill states, “In God We Trust.” These words are also prominently displayed in The US House of Representatives. Irony indeed.

  102. Stu

    The No True Scotsman wankery is thick in this thread. Holy hell.

  103. ZarathustraMike

    When I recite the Pledge….. I leave ‘Under Ghourd’ out!

  104. Furriner

    My 2 foreign cents. When I was an exchange student in the US, in the 80s, I thought it was a pointless ceremony. Why USians need to pledge their loyalty to their nation EVERY school day of the calendar?!? on weekends they are disloyal?!?

  105. In reference to Steve in Dublin’s comment #81, I was asked by the owners to relinquish my domain to Astrosphere.com and I looked at the board of directors for their slant. A link there led me here. The author of this blog was the intended target of my comments, not this site.

    In reference to Steve Morrison’s comment #84, “You parsed that sentence incorrectly; it means the very opposite of what you took it to mean.”

    No I knew exactly what it meant. You failed to comprehend that I see a thinly veiled insult cast at people of faith, desguised as a compliment. Why else would there be a need to include the qualifier “not an oxymoron”. Just another example of an attempt to be condescending while actually underestimating the comprehension skills of the target, a typical attitude of most atheists who actually feel they are intellectually superior while sometimes showing themselves to be quite the opposite.

  106. Damon

    The Pledge never bothered me, it was just another ritual to get us to conform that, ironically, pushed us farther and farther away from the status quo (as indoctrination usually does.)

    I did have a NW History teacher in high-school who “majored” in Theology and took it upon himself to instigate religious “discussions” (read: lectures) every chance he got, and that really bugged me, because my attempts to remain neutral were met with severe contempt from him and the rest of my classmates. The real cherry on top was when he had his hot wife visit class one day and she immediately gave me a “oh, that’s the one” look when she heard my name.

    I didn’t get him fired, although it wouldn’t have been out of my way, because religious quacks are their own worst enemies. Just one more red face when they eventually die and realize they were completely wrong.

  107. Damon: ” Just one more red face when they eventually die and realize they were completely wrong.”

    You have raised a ‘contradiction’ that I have to address.

    1. You must believe in an ‘after-life” to say this.

    2. If you are right, and there is no God, WHAT HAS HE LOST?

    3. If there is no after-life, again, WHAT HAS HE LOST?

    4. If either 2 or 3, or both, above are true, the person who has “wasted his life believing in something that isn’t real”, according to your view, has lost nothing by doing so because life would be meaningless anyway, and, perhaps he has achieved some peace you will never understand by doing so. Either way, he has the advantage, why force him or persecute him , to see things your way.

    I agree with you that some ‘believers’ carry their ‘enthusiasm’ too far and shouldn’t take it into the classroom, but you judge some too harshly for being passionate about their beliefs.

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »