Tuesday, October 14, 2003

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to decide whether it's unconstitutional for children in public schools to pledge their allegiance to "one nation under God."

The Pledge of Allegiance case pushes the court into an emotional argument over religion, patriotism and schools. Activists on both sides of the church-state divide immediately predicted one of the most significant, and wrenching, rulings in the court's modern history.

Generations of schoolchildren have begun each day by standing, hand on heart, to recite the oath that begins, "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America."

Sometime next year, the high court will hear the case of a California atheist who objects to the pledge his 9-year-old daughter's teacher leads daily. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco agreed with Michael Newdow last year, and the ruling set off a national uproar.

Democrats and Republicans in Congress criticized the decision and quickly passed a law affirming references to God in the pledge and the national motto, "In God We Trust." President Bush, who signed the measure, called the appeals court decision ridiculous.

The ruling is on hold pending the court challenge.

Okay, I'm ALL for the separation of Church & State, but this might be taking things to a useless extreme. This country, much as I'm loathe to point out, was founded by a bunch of religious nuts. That's gonna define a great deal of what the nation's all about. I'm certainly not advocating a wide-sweeping conversion to Christianity (or Judaism, Islam, Hindu, etc.), but, really, how much difference is it gonna make if a buncha little kids say "...under God"?

That said, I'll happily admit to having not said the pledge of alligience since I was twelve or so. Not that I don't love my country, warts, boils & all, but I'm not willing to put aside my own personal philosophies for a bunch of legislation that I've never had much real hand in crafting.

Pretty much the same reason I'm not willing to say the Lord's Prayer, when I go to one of my father's services. Christianity (much like American democracy, now that I think about it) is just far too much of a loaded game for my tastes.

Sorry, Pop.

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