The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Support the pledge of allegiance

The federal court system in America continues to prove that it is unable to handle the critically important caseload that comes before it. With last Wednesday’s decision in favor of Michael Newdow, an atheist, the Pledge of Allegiance is now illegal in three school districts in California. The ruling, handed down by U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton, is based on a precedent set by the 9th Circuit in 2002 that stated the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional when recited in public schools.

If you are unfamiliar with recent events, Michael Newdow first filed a case on behalf of his daughter in 2000, claiming that she should not have to be subjected to the recitation of the Pledge. It went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the case was dismissed on procedural grounds because Newdow did not have legal custody of his daughter.

This time around, the controversy once again surrounds the words “under God” in the Pledge. According to Judge Karlton, this phrase violates school children’s right to be “free from a coercive requirement to affirm God.” Congress introduced the phrase “under God” to the Pledge in 1954 while the United States was in bitter confrontation with the atheistic Soviet Union.

However, the federal government’s affirmation of God’s sovereignty goes back to the very infancy of this nation. The Declaration of Independence notes in its opening statements that we are endowed by our Creator with certain rights. According to the U.S. Treasury, the phrase “In God We Trust” was first used on a two-cent coin in 1864. It first appeared on our paper money in 1957.

Many federal buildings display religious objects and symbols. God is definitely on display at the federal level. That doesn’t constitute theocracy. The government does not operate religious schools, deny religious freedoms or forcibly convert anyone. Thank God that it doesn’t do any of those things.

If Judge Karlton needed established precedent, he should have drawn from a ruling by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in August that declared the Pledge a “patriotic exercise,” not a religious affirmation. The controversy in this case surrounded a Virginia law that mandated recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance every day in every public school classroom. In response, the ruling stated, “acknowledgements of religion by government simply do not threaten to establish religion.”

The students are not forced to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. They can choose to remain quiet if they desire. The vague argument that it will be psychologically damaging to the children to subject them to the Pledge of Allegiance is suspect at best.

What will happen when these kids face real problems if they can’t even handle a patriotic exercise?

Reed Hanson is a junior electrical engineering major. He may be contacted at [email protected].

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