In God We (Still) Trust

How now, Michael Newdow? You don’t have standing on behalf of your daughter to challenge “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance.

But that’s just a technicality, of course, and some other affronted atheist, aggrieved agnostic, peeved pantheist or steamed secular humanist surely will take up the clause cause again. It had to be encouraging to the incredulity crowd when only three Supreme Court justices flat out said that the use of “under God” was constitutional. The others deferred to the custody angle.

Arguably what is now called for is a Pledge of Allegiance to Common Sense. Belief in an “Uncaused Cause” or a “Prime Mover” may be incompatible with the “Big Bang” theory, but not the principle of church-and-state separation.

In effect, that is what the Bush administration is arguing. Its brief says “under God” in the Pledge is about as religious an act as pocketing coins with “In God We Trust” imprinted on them. It amounts to a patriotic acknowledgement of “the nation’s religious history.” We were, after all, founded by Pilgrims who had issues with the Church of England — not God.

The administration, mercifully, got this one right. “Under God” is an empirical statement that poses no threat to the separation of church and state. But if it did, then, indeed, “God save the United States and this honorable court.”

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