Monday, October 03, 2005


It’s politically centrist and hip to say that the Pledge of Allegiance reference to God is constitutional and you need to get over it. Even the Daily Show has mocked Neudow’s case. I don’t really buy the “it doesn’t matter” (every school child has to say it every day in view of their peers, and it’s irrelevant?), but the emphasis has been on how legitimate “under God” is.

Since a) a large majority of the country is Christian, and b) a very very large majority of the country is monotheistic, pundits (both right and center) make the claim that this isn’t about the establishment of religion in any absurd way and it’s perfectly ok. I can buy that I guess. My question (for anyone who feels that way and reads this blog) is, what’s the line?

Would it be unconstitutional for it to say “One Nation Under Jesus”? Maybe just “One Nation Under Him?” Where is the line exactly.

And of course, one needs to consider that writing the word God is a largely Christian thing. Deists and agnostics generally say god or have some other word. In Judaic tradition God should be written as His name, or as G-d. And in Islam you only use the proper noun for God, Allah, which doesn’t translate. (For instance, in Spanish a Christian would say they worship Dios, Spanish for God, but a Muslim would still say they worship Allah.)

PS: Yes I know this may sound pro-constitutional, but remember I first got on the anti-constitutional bandwagon by seeing how much people whole-heartedly disregard the constitution, and why it’s generally for good reason.


At 7:21 AM, Blogger Rebecca Neville said...

Given that Arabic speaking Christians also use Allah to refer to God I don't know if its so much a specific proper name for God different then how Judiasm or Christianity see it as a proper name. Its more likely that Allah is not translated because there is a strong bias for maintaining the original Arabic language of worship/the Qua'ran. Since one is supposed to read the Qua'ran in the original Arabic it is not suprising that their is not the same translating of the name of God that Christianity has. Of course this doesn't make your general point that much less valid - since it would still seem that Muslims might prefer we use the Arabic word.

At 3:56 PM, Anonymous little_e- said...

If it is constitutional to promote a specific view of god, which is only believed in by certain religions, then I see no reason why they can't claim the existence of any sort of god, from multiple norse deities to female fertility goddesses to jesus on a stick.

The difference, of course, is that at some point a critical mass of people start feeling like their religious views aren't being included. So long as it's just a few atheists and polytheists and people who believe in a goddess of some sort, we're dealing with a very small segment of the population. So it's within the legitimate bounds of gov't to ignore them and enforce the notion of a god in whom they don't believe. But if they were to change it to 'one nation under vishnu' or 'one nation under allah', we'd see a lot more pissed-off people.

By the same token, what is 'dominant' in society is often invisible. I remember reading about a study in which students were asked to describe themselves. straight white males often would not identify themselves as such, but talk about their interests, their majors, etc. while, say, black females or homosexuals would identify themselves as such.

Dominence is invisibility. so the dominant group doesn't see it as discriminatory because they can't even see what it's discriminating against. That level of self-awareness isn't present.

so in effect, it's constitutional because people don't realize that other religious groups don't think this way. and ignorance is not a good way of determining constitutionality.

At 10:19 PM, Blogger Rousseau said...

So what do you think is the smallest large enough set of religions that's acceptable?


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