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One Nation Under God: 11 Quotes on Pledge of Allegiance Controversy

By    |   Monday, 10 November 2014 07:56 PM

The debate over whether America is a nation “under God,” as stated in the country’s Pledge of Allegiance, is one that is hard-fought by numerous groups and individuals.

When tested in court, the legality of keeping God in the pledge has received mixed reviews: An appeals court ruled the phrasing violated the separation of church and state, and the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on technicalities and not addressed the issue directly.

ALERT: Should 'One Nation Under God' Stay in the Pledge of Allegiance? Vote Now

In a debate that cuts to the core of basic beliefs — in religion, in country, in separation of church and state, in freedom of speech — here are 11 quotes from both sides of the issue:

• "From this day forward, the millions of our school children will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural school house, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty. To anyone who truly loves America, nothing could be more inspiring than to contemplate this rededication of our youth, on each school morning, to our country's true meaning. ... In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America's heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country's most powerful resource, in peace or in war." – President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in 1954, when he signed the resolution adding the words “under God” to the nation’s Pledge of Allegiance.

• "It’s very difficult for a court to look at the law at this field and say, ‘Yes, it’s fine to tell our school children that our nation is under God and that the children who don’t believe in God are inferior. It seems to me that this is the implicit message kids are being given every morning." – Lawrence Marshall, director of the Mills Legal Clinic in Stanford Law School, in 2010, to The Michigan Daily.

• "The whole argument that 'under God' wasn't placed into the pledge for religious purposes is bogus. I hope people recognize this is not against God or people who believe in God. It's about the government not treating people equally on the basis of their lawful religious views." – Michael Newdow, a physician, attorney, and atheist who repeatedly challenged the inclusion of “under God” in court, after losing at case at the appeals court level in 2010.

• "Under no sound legal analysis adhering to binding Supreme Court precedent could this court uphold state-directed, teacher-led, daily recitation of the 'under God' version of the Pledge of Allegiance by children in public schools." – Judge Judge Stephen Reinhardt, in the dissenting opinion in the 2010 case Newdow lost.

• "Most Americans have recited the pledge hundreds of times and are not inclined to memorize a different pledge. Changing it may just feel wrong. Most Americans say they believe in God or a higher being and feel comfortable having ‘under God’ in the pledge.” – Scott McDonnell, director of Lifeway Research, to The Blaze.

• "If defenders of the current Pledge are going to maintain that ‘under God’ is absolutely essential, then this undercuts the claim that the Pledge is not primarily a religious exercise. You can't have it both ways. You can't claim the Pledge is not principally a religious exercise and then insist it must contain an avowal of belief in God." – Robert A. Lindsay, president and CEO, Center of Inquiry. Here he was addressing the argument made by some that “under God” is not a religious statement.

VOTE NOW: Should the Pledge of Allegiance Be Changed?

• "This national conversation is not taking place. One reason is the reluctance of many dissident religions to get involved in public discussions of their dissident conceptions, for fear of stigma for themselves and their children. That is why it ended up being an atheist who brought the famous case, a fact that proved very bad for public understanding of the issues. The pledge, as I’ve argued, is offensive to many believers, as well as to atheists. Most Americans, however, currently think that only atheists have a problem with it." – Martha C. Nussbaum, professor of law and ethics, University of Chicago Law School, excerpted from “Contemporary Controversies: The Pledge, Evolution, Imagination, Gay Marriage, Fear of Muslims.”

• "The argument that 'under God' in the pledge is pushing religion on children is wrong on the law. It's also wrong from a commonsense perspective." – Superintendent Dave Gordon to CBS News about the case brought against his school district in 2003 by Newdow, asking that “under God” be removed from the nation’s pledge.

• "Now, the Bill of Rights may be something more than a topic we briefly study in our Social Studies curriculum. It will now be a part of every child’s life. It will be a part of every day's introduction to the Pledge of Allegiance. Every adult staff member and every child will be reminded every day, before we salute the flag, that we all have the option to participate in the Pledge, or not. And that no coercion, intimidation, or ridicule of any kind, will fall on those that elect not to participate in the Pledge. That's following our Constitution and participating in our democracy; that's learning about our Bill of Rights.” – Oregon teacher Jeff Mason, who pulled the American Civil Liberties Union into a fight with his school to allow students to remain seated during the Pledge of Allegiance. The school changed its policies after the ACLU “reminded” the officials that it was unconstitutional to force students to participate in the pledge was unconstitutional.

• "The Pledge is not a religious creed or a prayer. It is a statement of our nation’s political philosophy that rights come not from the state but from something higher — as our Declaration of Independence puts it, 'Nature’s God.' We are confident that the court will uphold the right to say the Pledge in its entirety," Kristina Arriaga, Becket Fund executive director, to the Deseret News.

• "When I stand up, put my hand over my heart and say the Pledge of Allegiance, I am recognizing that my rights come from God, not from the government. If anyone wants to remain silent, that is their right. But it is not their right to silence me." – Samantha Jones in a statement to Deseret News about her decision to join a lawsuit and fight for “under God” to remain in the pledge.

URGENT: Do You Think 'One Nation Under God' Should Be Removed From the Pledge of Allegiance? Vote Here Now!

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The debate over whether America is a nation "under God," as stated in the country's Pledge of Allegiance, is one that is hard-fought by numerous groups and individuals.
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Monday, 10 November 2014 07:56 PM
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