Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Supreme Court to Take On Pledge of Allegiance Case

The Supreme Court has decided it will rule on the (in)famous California case in which "atheist activist" Michael Newdow sought to have the words "under God" removed from the Pledge of Allegiance.

Justice Antonin Scalia has recused himself from the case, in response to Newdow's petition citing Scalia's words at a Knights of Columbus conference as evidence of bias. This, of course, makes it all the more likely that the SCOTUS will rule against the Pledge.

I am genuinely of two minds on this matter: On the one hand, I am opposed to anything that will further strip religion from the public life of the nation. I think that Madison's dictum that our form of government is suitable for only a "godly people" is true, and that the Naked Public Square will lead to further breakdown of the social fabric, and so, inevitably, to tyrrany.

On the other hand, I wonder if removing the phrase "under God" from the Pledge wouldn't be a sort of "truth in advertising." After all, I think it is scarcely credible to claim that we are still, in any meaningful sense, a nation "under God". Wouldn't removing those words from the Pledge simply be a recognition of reality?

That phrase, "under God", has, for many Americans, become an empty shibboleth. To utter it is to simply "observe the pieties". In it's original meaning, it implied that the Nation saw itself as subject to God: that we as a people sought to place ourselves under the guidance and authority of God. I'd be surprised if one in ten Americans actually thought anything like that today. I think that when many Americans think of God, they think of a cosmic sugar-daddy who is "on our side", and not of how we mock Him with our embrace of the Culture of Death.

While I would be sorry to see those two words go, I think that truthfulness always has a salutary, and sometimes even a bracing effect. Losing that phrase might shake some Americans out of the fantasy that America has some sort of manifest-destiny Sacred Mandate, and that we have a divine mission to spread the Sapientia, Lux & Pax Americana to all the world.

The only message destined to go "to all the world" is the Good News and Truth of Our Lord Jesus Christ. We'd do well to start living up to it better here at home, and the first step to so doing is acknowledging that we're doing a pretty poor job of it right now.