Wednesday, September 21, 2005


The schools ask the children to stand up and pledge allegiance. Sort of a daily loyalty oath. We are not talking about naturalization, and that oath requirement. Children citizens are asked to stand and pledge.

The Supreme Court as early as 1943 ruled that it was unconstitutional, a violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments, to require a civic pledge of those public school children whose religion forbad all pledges. Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943).

Thereafter, until 1952, the school authorities would ask the class to stand and pledge, and some would be allowed to remain sitting.

Then in 1952, Congress added the words, “under God,” to the pledge, somewhat modifying the word, "indivisible". Now the question became, is it enough that the child may decline to take the pledge, does that right to dissent by remaining sitting, or silent, avoid the idea that the government [compulsory school] is establishing a religion.

I was old enough to take the pledge when I was seven. I knew, from the knee of my Southern Baptist mother, that I was required to decide on a very big question. Did I want to say that I accept Jesus as a savior, and my savior, and that I believed that if I did so and walked down the aisle of the church in public ceremony and accepted baptism by immersion [none else would do] then I would have eternal life? Or did I want to fail to believe, accept, and be baptized, and risk that if I died before being saved, I would be sent to Hell, to eternal fire and damnation? The way the Baptist preachers described Hell in those days was graphic. I chose the right way.

I did as my mother wanted, and her desires, regardless of whether they were logical, or efficacious for me, were the desires of my mother and my compliance made her feel good and gave her comfort. So I am glad I was converted as a Baptist. Under that religion, no matter whether I sinned, or erred, afterward, I was converted, saved, and would land in heaven, and that has to be a great comfort to a mother.

How about simply returning to the old pledge, the one used during the Great Depression and during World War II. "One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." We do not have to say that we are rejecting religion, or taking the Lord out of the schools. We can say that we are returning to the basic civics values that the senior citizens were taught in grade school.

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