"...one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all."
That statement has become quite controversial in recent times...and, on its face, is completely contradictory.
Recently, an atheist from Texas lost a court case regarding the state adding the words "under God" to our state pledge that his child is expected to recite in school, claiming a First Amendment violation of his freedom of religion.
Today I, using that wonderful networking tool known as facebook, asked my friends and family if they would be offended if the words "in the absence of God" were included in the pledge in place of "under God"...and, if so, WHY.
Many people were very adamant that the words "under God" should be included in the pledge, and would be offended if the substituted phrase were used instead...but most didn't bother to provide any type of reasoning for this. The three who did attempt to justify their position were under the impression that the United States is somehow a "Christian" nation, and our citizens should acknowledge this. Many people stated that since a person is not forced to say the pledge of allegiance, that the phrase "under God" shouldn't be an issue...but, ironically, these were the very same people who stated that they would be offended if the words "in the absence of God" were substituted.
First and foremost, let me get a few facts out of the way...
1) The United States of America is, predominantly, populated by those who claim affiliation with some manner or denomination of Christianity...and I am one of these people.
2) The founding fathers of this nation were, for the most part, believers in God...whether they be Christians, deists, or otherwise.
3) The fundamental principles of freedom of choice and a fairly universal code of morality amongst civilized society is found within the teachings of Christ.
With that being said, the United States is not a "Christian" nation, in the sense that Iran is a "Muslim" nation or Israel is a "Jewish" nation. The US is no more a "Christian nation" than a bacon cheeseburger is a "Christian meal" merely because I ate a bacon cheeseburger after church.
If a person is offended by the notion that his child would have to sit through someone else reciting a pledge of allegiance to this nation that included a reference to the absence of God, even though his child was not required to say it with the rest of the class, it makes me wonder what respect they have for the notion of freedom in this nation if they think that the child of an atheist should be forced to sit and listen to others recite the pledge acknowledging God simply because they don't have to say it with the rest of the class.
The last time I checked, the IRS does not ask you about your religious beliefs or affiliations. It matters not to them if you are atheist, Hindu, Muslim, Catholic, Pentecostal, or Southern Baptist...if you work for a living, they're still going to take your money. The same holds true with the county tax assessor. If you own property, it's getting taxed, and they aren't going to question you about your church membership. They're going to look at what you've got built on your land, and send you a bill. That money is going to end up funding a public school, which will include a recital of the Pledge of Allegiance at some point or another.
In the First Amendment of our United States Constitution, it clearly states that congress isn't allowed to enact any law respecting the establishment of religion. The argument is often made that the First Amendment does not apply, because a child is not forced to recite the pledge of allegiance in school or elsewhere. However, is it not being done while taxpayer-funded teachers and administrators are on the clock? Is it not being done within a taxpayer-funded building? Is it not being done within a school that a child is lawfully required to attend if that child is not home-schooled at his parents' expense (in addition to the property taxes that have already been paid)?
Who passed the laws requiring taxation? What happens to a person if he neglects or refuses to pay taxes?
A more important question to ask is, what gives a Judeo-Christian majority the right to tell others "We're going to publicly state our beliefs at the expense of us all, you included. If you don't like it, you don't have to participate...but we're still going to use your money.", while telling the atheist minority that they don't have the right to have their views publicly expressed in the same manner, being paid for by that same pool of tax money?
You simply cannot claim that it is right to use the phrase "under God", followed by the phrase "with liberty and justice for all", unless you are willing to look past all logic and reasoning. There cannot be "liberty and justice for all", if that liberty and justice does not include the atheists amongst us. Otherwise, it is only "liberty and justice for some", or "liberty and justice for the majority".
We don't live in a democracy, where the mob rules. We live in a constitutional republic with a limited representative democracy and a certain amount of enumerated inherent and natural rights recognized by our constitution. Amongst them is the right to freedom of religion. We have the right to believe as we choose, and to speak as we choose...so long as it does not infringe upon the right of others to do the same.
That is the constitution I swore, before God Almighty, to uphold and defend. That is the constitution that defines the republic for which our flag stands, to which we pledge allegiance...and when we declare this nation to be "under God" in doing so while tax dollars from all citizens are being used, we violate the first constitutionally-guaranteed and God-given right enumerated in our constitution.
This is not only a violation of constitutional law, but also contrary to biblical instruction. We are taught to abide by the laws presented to us by the lawful authorities in the 13th chapter of Romans. As the highest law of the land, there is no higher authority than the US Constitution in this nation, but God Himself. In Galations 5, we are told to "walk by the spirit", and that Christ has set us free for the sake of freedom.
I am a Christian by choice, not by force. A forced faith will always be a false faith, no matter how you choose to spin it. I am reminded of the old saying about catching more flies with honey than with vinegar. If someone is not a believer in Christ, what is more likely to persuade him? Will it be the Christ-like actions of your concern for his well-being, your tolerance, your perseverance of faith in times of trial, and your ability to love him not because of what he's done or said, but rather, in spite of these things? Will it be because "your side" won a court case that FORCES his child to listen to your stated beliefs?
Well, what is it?