The U.S. Pledge of Allegiance has been at the center of the church-state discussion for many years. Like the phrase “in God we trust,” imprinted on our money, atheists have been aggressive in trying to remove any semblance of the creator from the public square. In recent days the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the case brought by Michale Newdow which sought to remove the phrase “in God we trust” from the Pledge of Allegiance. The court said that the phrase is ceremonial and patriotic, not religious.
The ruling says, “the pledge is constitutional.” The 9th Circuit, held to be among the most liberal in the nation, published an opinion that says what many of us have been saying for years. Namely, our forefathers believed in God. The court furthermore properly elucidated the 1st amendment question of the separation of church and state in their published ruling:
The Pledge reflects many beliefs held by the Founding Fathers of this country—the same men who authored the Establishment Clause—including the belief that it is the people who should and do hold the power, not the government. They believed that the people derive their most important rights, not from the government, but from God: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. The Declaration of Independence, 1 U.S.C. § XLIII (1776) (emphasis added). The Founders did not see these two ideas—that individuals possessed certain God-given rights which no government can take away, and that we do not want our nation to establish a religion—as being in conflict.
I must say that I am pleasantly surprised with the court’s ruling. God has never forced men to come to him but instead desires that they come of their own free will. People are not required to worship or even acknowledge God and that is as it should be.
While this battle has waned, it may not be over. An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court might be possible or the atheist community may seek other venues to force their beliefs on others. For now however we should rejoice.
The March 11, 2010 court decision on the pledge is is on the 9th Circuits web site.