As soon as I saw the ruling, I could see the headlines. It was a no-
brainer. About as predictable as George W. calling everyone who doesn’t
agree with him an ‘evil-doer.’
I’m talking about the ‘under God’ ruling and the firestorm after,
including all who rushed to be more ‘religious’ and more ‘patriotic’ than
Within hours of the ruling, the Christian Coalition, along with the
Traditional Values Coalition, sent out press releases condemning it, and
then utilizing the ruling as a way to mobilize their constituents for the
2002 elections. This ruling shows, they proclaimed, the importance of the
2002 elections and appointing conservative, God-fearing judges, free from
Wouldn’t they have been surprised to know that the pledge was written
by a socialist by the name of Francis Bellamy? Bellamy, the brother of
author Edward Bellamy, who wrote two utopian socialist novels, Looking
Backwards and Equality, was a Baptist minister. Francis Bellamy was a
Christian socialist and wrote the pledge to reflect his ideals of a united
country with liberty and justice for all. Written in 1892, the country was
still churning from a defining struggle against racism, the legacy of
slavery and the Civil War.
Two changes were made to the original pledge. The first change was
from ‘I pledge allegiance to my flag’ to ‘I pledge allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America’. The Daughters of the American Revolution
(DAR) and the American Legion did that in the early 1920s. Bellamy
objected to the change. Maybe the idea that all people ‘ Black, white,
Brown, Asian ‘ would call it ‘my flag’ was too much for them. After all,
it was the DAR that refused to allow Marian Anderson, a Black opera
singer, to perform in Constitution Hall in 1939.
The second change was adding ‘under God,’ during the height of Cold
WarMcCarthyism and the trashing of democratic rights and liberties. ‘Under
God’ was probably inserted because it helped the right wing weed out those
atheistic children, making it easier for the FBI to harass the families.
Can’t we have a national dialogue on this without getting whipped up
into a mob? What all people who believe in the separation of church and
state, not just atheists, don’t like is taking religion and forcing it
down the public’s throat. Like judges who put up the Ten Commandments in a
court, or public funding of vouchers, or the ‘faith-based initiatives’ of
the Bush administration, or telling a woman she doesn’t have reproductive
freedom. Why doesn’t that get the media and politicians in an uproar?
Or the fact that religious zealots are organizing to get their
ideological clones appointed to the courts. Or the fact that Attorney
General Ashcroft holds Bible study on Federal government time. Shouldn’t
he be trying to figure out who sent the anthrax, instead studying for
How about another change ‘ a compromise? Why not, ‘one nation, under a
power far greater than myself, indivisible ” like out of AA? I always
thought after Sept. 11 we didn’t need to go to war. What the country
really needed was one big group therapy session.
Personally ‘ even for an atheist ‘ believing in something larger than
oneself is part of the human experience. For me it’s science, it’s the
multi-racial, multi-national working class, it is the beauty and diversity
of nature, humankind and the planet, it is a love of work, children and
fighting for what is right.
These far-right fanatics are going into a feeding frenzy ‘ watch out,
Berkeley, Sacramento, Oakland and San Francisco ‘ they may try to move in
en masse and change your radical, free-thinking style. They may also
support Enron taking over your utilities. Oh, wait ‘ they already did.
Don’t fall into any California, atheist, left or liberal bashing on
this. Take a deep breath and exhale. And think about which is more
detrimental to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness ‘ this ruling or
the Christian Coalition?