Mashable reports, “Soon after NBC aired a pre-taped segment for a golf tournament that twice omitted the words “under God” from the United States Pledge of Allegiance, the Twittersphere erupted into a fury of controversy.” (See the video here.)
Meanwhile, my better half wondered aloud on her blog today why we consistently manufacture mountains out of mole hills. There’s little to suggest this was an overt message as much as a poor editing choice. As she notes, “one nation” and “indivisible” also get left out at points. And no one is screaming that NBC is advocating a new civil war.
Yet I’d approach the question somewhat differently. What if NBC did do this on purpose? I doubt that’s the case, but so what if it is? The majority of the outrage seems to be coming from Christian groups who are apparently maligned, abused, and oppressed because the phrase “under God” was left out. Really? Just because you can’t force everyone to be like you doesn’t mean you’re being discriminated against. Despite Michele Bachmann’s efforts, this is (not yet) a theocracy. The very fact the words “under God” are in the Pledge are a nod to the reality that some 90% of Americans worship God in one form or another. But it’s not a requirement to be an American.
Even as an atheist, I don’t and won’t advocate for the return of the Pledge to its pre-1954 godless state. This is primarily because “under God” is a harmless and somewhat meaningless phrase when spoken the the context of a mass pledge. It has personal meaning to many people when they say it because they know what they mean by it. Fine. No harm done. But hearing the person next to you say “under God” doesn’t remotely mean they share your meaning. By “God” they could be referring to Shiva, Odin, or the rabbit’s foot in their pocket they happen to worship. Or they might just be reciting it they way they learned in school and the words have no meaning whatsoever. It might be just a rote saying. And if hearing someone say something is meaningless, can it really be meaningful when they don’t?