[From Bloc Raisonneur]

Radley Balko at the Agitator and Jason Kuznicki at Positive Liberty wonder at the wisdom of Michael Newdow and other atheists' attempts to strike "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance. Their beef? Per Balko:
Seems to me that the real problem here—whether you’re atheist, agnostic, or devout—is the idea that we’re forcing school kids to take a loyalty oath to a swatch of cloth. If the argument is that they’re pledging allegiance to the country the cloth represents, that’s pretty creepy, too.
And from Kuznicki's response:
Maybe the most remarkable aspect of my fellow citizens’ pledge to exclude me is the sheer fact that they mostly wouldn’t do it of their own prompting. But pass a law, and look at the difference! They all line up to ostracize, even the ones who, ordinarily, are better than this. Stanley Milgram would be proud. Or ashamed. Or both, I guess. [ . . . ] “Under God” is a symptom of a much greater problem. That’s why I applaud the atheists who fight the words “under God,” even though I know that removing it wouldn’t fix the problem itself. In part, I too feel the bite of these words. And in part I applaud the atheists’ efforts because they help expose the error of compulsory unity. I’d like it if more people, besides just atheists and Jehovah’s Witnesses, complained about the Pledge.
Good points, each. Perhaps for those fighting "under God," there is an understanding that these battles can only be won one at a time. More likely, though, is that little thought is given to the grander purpose of the Pledge: the "compulsory unity" it implies.
I have not seen it quite that severely as these libertarians do (shock). Any contract one enters into comes with the understanding that its spirit must be upheld by both parties (so I would think). If the nation-state of "America" (which in the context of the Pledge means what? The government? Fellow citizens?) were to violate its foundational principles as outlined in the Constitution, a signatory to the oath would no longer be bound to it.

An even better way to look at it, it now occurs to me, is as an oath not to the state per se, but to its aforementioned constitutional principles. I pledge allegiance to the principles of freedom of speech, religion, assembly, etc., etc., etc., all of which are symbolized by that "swatch of cloth."

All of which makes the "under God" addition doubly irrelevant, and its official use in the Pledge, under this theory, really does imply a governmental endorsement of theism. Whether or not I believe that God watches over this country has no bearing as to whether I choose to ally myself with the civic ideals to which it aspires.

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