ONE NATION UNDER GOD...
Lynn M. Stuter
March 8, 2003
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has refused to reconsider its ruling that the Pledge of Allegiance, incorporating "under God," is unconstitutional. Voices are being raised in anger and opposition to this ruling. But let's step back and look at this situation in accordance to our constitution.
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states, in part, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ..."
While some claim this erects a wall of separation between church and state, nothing could be further from the truth.
Thomas Jefferson, 1823:
"On every question of construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it conform to the probable one in which it was passed."
One of the primary causes of the Revolution was the religious persecution of those faiths not given official recognition by the Church of England, the established church of King George. Part of our American heritage not taught in government schools today is that those churches not recognized by the Church of England were not allowed to marry people. If the only church in a newly settled frontier community was a church not recognized by the Church of England, the people who settled in that community or area had to travel to a church that was recognized to be married or they had to await the arrival of a traveling minister, called a "circuit rider." Some of the people who settled the central part of Virginia, for instance, traveled clear to Wilmington, Delaware, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to be married.
When writing the Bill of Rights, our Founding Fathers sought to right what they found to be an intolerable wrong; via the First Amendment they sought to prohibit the state from establishing a state recognized religion or interfering in the free exercise of religion. This does not mean that people of religious faith serving in public offices cannot practice their religious principles in their day to day dealings with others. It was the intent of our Founding Fathers that men of principle serve our nation and that they do so according to their religious principles.
With this in mind, it is ironic that so many people are so upset about the Ninth Circuit Court ruling that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional in the government school setting. Yet, at the same time, the same people condemn humanism as the religious foundation of government schools, citing the 1963 Supreme Court decision banning prayer in government schools as the causal factor in the destruction of good public education.
So, it is okay to have religion in the government schools so long as that religion is Christianity? This is directly counter to the First Amendment which guarantees freedom of religion. Freedom of religion means freedom of religion, not just freedom of religion if you are a Christian. Christianity has no more place in the government school than does humanism or New Age, all other considerations aside.
But doesn't that amount to promoting humanism? No, it doesn't. John Adams stated that our constitution was made for a moral and religious people, that it was wholly inadequate for any other. But John Adams and his colleagues understood something that too many Christians today don't understand or have forgotten: if man is to truly be free, man must choose to follow the teaching of Christ, that any attempt to force mankind to be Christian via an act of government constitutes an act of tyranny.
This is the same concept that underlies the truism that government cannot legislate morality. To do so constitutes an act of tyranny even if the intentions are noble. The long and short of this is that a moral and religious people, alone, can be free. People must choose, of their own volition, to follow the teachings of Christ and to practice those teachings in their everyday lives even in the public arena.
So, should the Pledge of Allegiance be banned from the government schools? No. Okay, aren't we like going in circles, here? Again, no. If a child wishes to stand up, of his own volition, at a time that is so designated or not disruptive, place his hand over his heart, face the flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, complete with "one nation under God" he has every right to do so, even in a government school classroom. However, if a teacher or other government school employee makes the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance mandatory, then the teacher has violated the Constitution.
The same is true concerning school prayer. For a school employee to demand students bow their heads in prayer is forbidden. For a parent or a student to entreat those who wish to join with them in prayer on school grounds, such is within their rights and the rights of every individual who chooses to join them.
The test is whether the religious act on public property is voluntary or mandatory.
But what about the fact that the religions of humanism and New Age are being taught in the government school classroom? Isn't that just as unconstitutional as reciting the Pledge of Allegiance?
The root problem with the religions of humanism and New Age in the government school classroom is one that goes to the very foundation of education. Education, in every instance, is based upon a world view, a religion, making it impossible to educate a child without imparting a religious world view. For this reason, government schools violate the First Amendment. They should never have been established in the first place, and should be disbanded now. In that, the question of the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance in the classroom would never have arisen.
© 2003 Lynn M. Stuter - All Rights Reserved
Mother and wife, Stuter has spent the past ten years researching systems theory with a particular emphasis on education. She home schooled two daughters, now grown and on their own. She has worked with legislators, both state and federal, on issues pertaining to systems governance and education reform. She networks nationwide with other researchers and citizens concerned with the transformation of our nation. She has traveled the United States and lived overseas. Web site: www.learn-usa.com E-Mail: [email protected]