God is ubiquitous in government and politics.
But should he be? Or is that she? It? Them? And who said there was a God in the first place?
This confusion is the stuff of modern theology, and the recent arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court – and the court’s subsequent decision – won’t make things simpler.
God is mentioned on coins, in the Declaration of Independence, by the Supreme Court in its traditional opening remarks, in Congress by its chaplain and is commonly invoked in political rhetoric across the land.
And, of course, God is part of the Pledge of Allegiance. But is that pledge a de facto state endorsement of religion, as Michael Newdow argued before the Supreme Court last week? Yes.
Although the Founding Fathers invoked the name of God throughout the Declaration of Independence, they left the Almighty out of the Constitution altogether. They even prohibited the establishment of a state religion in the First Amendment.
Although this board sympathizes with those pining for God’s inclusion in the pledge, Newdow’s argument is persuasive. The United States must stay true to its secular origins.
“When I see the flag and I think of pledging allegiance,” Newdow said before the high court, “it’s like I’m getting slapped in the face every time, bam, you know, ‘This is a nation under God; your religious belief system is wrong.’ “
This board – and this country – have a duty to consider the rights of the minority. An overwhelming majority of University students believe in a God of some kind, which makes it all the more important to respect those who do not.
To some, then, the pledge smacks of religious persuasion. The United States government has no business in theology, no more than it does in the bedroom or the family.
The original pledge debuted on Columbus Day in 1892, written by socialist editor and clergyman Francis Bellamy. It did not contain the words “under God.” Congress added those in 1954. Stripping “under God” from the pledge, then, would not detract from the pledge’s original meaning, and that is what this country should do.