Back in 1969, Red Skelton on his television show presented the Pledge of Allegiance, as he’d been taught it in the fourth grade by his teacher, a Mr. Laswell. It’s a powerful presentation, and I urge you to follow the text link above and read it for yourself or listen to Red present it.
On June 26, 2002, the Pledge of Allegiance was banned from the public schools. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that, since the pledge contains the phrase “under God,” it is an unconstitutional establishment of a religion. The court, shocked by popular outrage, put a stay on the order until the entire 9th Circuit Court could review it. As of March 28, 2003, the 9th Circuit Court has done so — and upheld the original judgment. Attorney General John Ashcroft condemned the decision and said the Justice Department will “spare no effort to preserve the rights of all our citizens to pledge allegiance to the American flag.” On June 15th, 2004, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled unanimously that the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance would remain intact as a patriotic oath in public schools, despite efforts by atheist Michael Newdow to remove the phrase as a First Amendment violation. The 8-0 ruling (with Antonin Scalia having removed himself) came ironically on Flag Day, and exactly 50 years after Congress added the phrase “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance. As a result, the Pledge of Allegiance, in its entirely, will continue to be recited by public school students as an oath to their country.
However, the court effectively ruled on a technicality — since Mr. Newdow did not have primary custody of his daughter, in whose name he sued, he had no right to bring legal suit in the first place. The Supreme Court did not rule on the constitutionality of the phrase “under God” nor on the supposedly constitution “separation of church and state.”
For those interested, here is the relevant part of the Constitution — the 1st Amendment, which the 9th Circuit Court is using to issue its’ judgment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Now, I know I’m only a clown (and grateful), but how does saying “under God” establish a religion? If it does, which religion? Is it establishing the Catholic, or Lutheran, or Presbyterian, or United Methodist religion? How about Judaism, or Islam, or Buddhism, or Confucianism?
Ironically, at the end of Red’s presentation of the pledge, he mentions that since he was a boy, two words had been added to the Pledge – “under God,” and he wondered, wouldn’t be sad if someone decided that was a prayer, and that the Pledge would be banned? It took 33 years for our national foolishness to reach that level, but we’ve finally made it. Herein lies the difference between clowns and (some) judicial appointees: the clown realizes his position, and acts foolishly (gives away his own power) to lift another person up; the 9th Circuit Court doesn’t realize its’ position, and acts foolishly to demonstrate that it’s unworthy of the power entrusted to it. Clowns do foolish things to entertain people, and sometimes to make them think. Apparently, the 9th Circuit Court does foolish things simply to prove that they don’t.