Guest blogger Brian justifiably takes me to task for my wishy-washy stance on the Under God issue below. He’s right, and I’m guilty as charged. Brian’s words are unedited below in Green Text. Italics are my words from previous posts which he included to drive home the hypocrisy of my position.

The message I’m getting from this blog is that it’s probably not constitutional to have “under God” in the pledge, but its not really hurting anybody. I don’t think the former is strong enough and I disagree with the latter.

Isn’t this an open and shut case? I haven’t yet heard an argument for constitutionality that comes close to the prima facia case for unconstitutionality. Can you honestly say that you think this is constitutional? If so, make your case. If not, then doesn’t the prospect of having the Supreme Court bend to the will of the majority scare you? Wouldn’t that be a dangerous precedent? If this is constitutional, then what’s next? Is one George Bush as president worse than having 5 George Bushes on the Supreme Court? The president at least has term limits.

Let me state this for the record. I don’t think the government should tell me who, what, where, when, how or IF to believe in God. I want the line to be drawn in the sand now. All the Christians that are clamoring for constitutionality would agree with me if they were in the minority.

I think ruling in favor of Constitutionality is dangerous. But is the phrase itself dangerous? I say yes. Not because its going to dramatically sway my kids beliefs one way or the other, but because it vindicates those who think they are better than someone else based on their beliefs. It propagates an “I’m better than you are because of what you believe,” attitude. In your words:

… She then stated/asked, “Well Tim, you must be a spiritual person, aren’t you?” While I didn’t wish to make a big deal of the statement, it would have been disingenuous for me to just nod and let it go. So I said that while I had a very strong personal philosophy and morality, that no, I was not spiritual as she defined it. I was an atheist.

She reacted with, “Oh Tim…”, and an expression on her face which would have been more suitable had I just revealed that I had terminal cancer and 3 weeks to live. She clearly had no idea how to handle this information, and the conversation abruptly turned to lighthearted things. We went on as if the last five minutes had never occurred.

To be clear, I wasn’t offended by the reaction, and I’m not picking on her. I’ve seen this reaction over and over – and still it amazes me. This is a world where a person saying they are Jewish, Muslim, gay, lesbian, etc. is taken in passing. Yet it seems atheists must still be invisible and outside people’s conscious experience. (Everybody probably knows a few, they just don’t know they do.) Jews used to note that well-intentioned people simply assumed that they were Jewish only because no one had yet brought Jesus into their lives. I doubt many people would view Judaism that way today. Yet atheism is viewed that way. It is viewed as a deficiency (or worse, an opportunity) by well intentioned Christians.

Why would the court say that its OK to have “under god” in the pledge unless believing in God was preferable to not believing in God? If the court approves the phrase, aren’t they rubber stamping this attitude as OK by them? If you don’t think this attitude is widespread, answer me this. How many atheists hold public office right now?

As a society, we need to work toward respecting others beliefs. This decision isn’t going to get us there, but it’s a step in the right, or wrong, direction.

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