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Should the Words "under God" Be in the US Pledge of Allegiance?

PRO (yes) CON (no)
Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States, made the following remarks during his Flag Day speech on June 14, 1954:
"From this day forward, the millions of our school children will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural school house, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty. To anyone who truly loves America, nothing could be more inspiring than to contemplate this rededication of our youth, on each school morning, to our country's true meaning.

Especially is this meaningful as we regard today's world. Over the globe, mankind has been cruelly torn by violence and brutality and, by the millions, deadened in mind and soul by a materialistic philosophy of life. Man everywhere is appalled by the prospect of atomic war. In this somber setting, this law and its effects today have profound meaning. In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America's heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country's most powerful resource, in peace or in war."

June 14, 1954 - Dwight D. Eisenhower 

Barack Obama, JD, 44th President of the United States, made the following statements during his keynote address at the Call to Renewal conference held on June 28, 2006:
"[A] sense of proportion should also guide those who police the boundaries between church and state. Not every mention of God in public is a breach to the wall of separation - context matters. It is doubtful that children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance feel oppressed or brainwashed as a consequence of muttering the phrase 'under God.' I didn't."

June 28, 2006 - Barack Obama, JD 

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a nonprofit legal center specializing in constitutional law, wrote the following statements in the Jan. 12, 2004 article "ACLJ Position Paper on the Pledge of Allegiance," published on its website
"Recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is fully consistent with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The words of the Pledge echo the conviction held by the Founders of this Nation that our freedoms come from God. Congress inserted the phrase 'One Nation Under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance for the express purpose of reaffirming America's unique understanding of this truth, and to distinguish America from atheistic nations who recognize no higher authority than the State."

Jan. 12, 2004 - American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) 

William J. Federer, speaker, author, and president of Amerisearch, Inc., wrote the following in a 2003 amicus brief for the United States Supreme Court case Elk Grove Unified School District v. Michael A. Newdow:
"It is not a violation of the Establishment Clause for our school children to acknowledge our religious heritage or to share in our religious identity by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance with the words, 'under God.' To the contrary, the public and patriotic affirmation of God is the best of our national traditions, dating back to Christopher Columbus, continuing with our Founding Fathers, and persisting today."

2003 - William J. Federer 

The Claremont Institute, a nonprofit organization whose mission is "to restore the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority...," posted the following position to its website (accessed Apr. 30, 2007):
"The addition of the words 'under God' to the Pledge, and the school district's policy and practice of teacher-led recitation of the Pledge, do not violate the Establishment Clause... Indeed, the best evidence suggests just the opposite: The Establishment Clause was designed not just to prevent the establishment of a national church but to prohibit the federal government from interfering with state encouragement of religion as the states exercised their core police powers to protect the health, safety, welfare, and morals of the people. To hold that the Constitution prohibits the State or school district from allowing the recitation of a pledge that acknowledges the existence of God would ignore the history and intent of the First Amendment and would undermine the efforts of the States to foster the kind of moral virtue the Founders thought essential to the perpetuation of republican institutions."

Apr. 30, 2007 - Claremont Institute 

The Common Good Foundation, a nonprofit organization with the primary goal to "foster Christian service in America," wrote the following in a Dec. 2003 amicus brief for the United States Supreme Court case Elk Grove Unified School District v. Michael A. Newdow:
"The Pledge of Allegiance does not mandate a religious belief in God, establish a religion, or constitute a government endorsement of a religion. Rather, it is an affirmation of allegiance to a nation which describes itself as being 'under God.' If an individual does not believe in God, they can still be a loyal citizen of a republic that does."

Dec. 2003 - Common Good Foundation 

Samuel P. Huntington, JD, Albert J. Weatherhead III University Professor at Harvard University, wrote the following passage in his book Who Are We?, published in 2004:
"Americans are one of the most religious people in the world, particularly compared with the peoples of other highly industrialized democracies. But they nonetheless tolerate and respect the rights of atheists and nonbelievers. Unbelievers do not have to recite the pledge, or engage in any religiously tainted practice of which they disapprove. They also, however, do not have the right to impose their atheism on all those Americans whose beliefs now and historically have defined America as a religious nation."

2004 - Samuel P. Huntington, JD 

Focus on the Family, a nonprofit organization that broadcasts two daily syndicated radio programs, wrote the following in a 2003 amicus brief for the United States Supreme Court case Elk Grove Unified School District v. Michael A. Newdow:
"Voluntary recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance by public school students is a patriotic exercise that acknowledges the religious principles upon which this country was founded. Inclusion of the phrase 'under God' in the Pledge, simply recognizes the historical fact that our founders declared independence and established this nation based on principles that transcend man made laws. The Pledge is not a prayer or any other type of religious exercise. A public school district policy that requires teachers to lead willing students in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is therefore constitutional under all of the tests this Court uses to analyze Establishment Clause claims."

2003 - Focus on the Family 

Donald Drakeman, JD, PhD, Lecturer in the Department of Politics at Princeton University, wrote the following information in his book Church-State Constitutional Issues: Making Sense of the Establishment Clause, published in 1991:
"For the purposes of our establishment clause discussions, we need to recognize that vast numbers of Americans share a four-century-long commitment to a divine mission for America. No matter how strictly we might separate church from state, we will continue to find religion intertwined with the republic in the minds of at least a majority of American voters... For these millions of Americans, religion is in service of the nation, which is, in turn, in service of a religiously based higher calling. Accordingly, many of the activities challenged under the establishment clause - with the possible exception of parochial school aid - are designed not so much to benefit religion as to preserve the moral fabric and transcendent destiny of the country. Much of the outcry following the Court's banning of public school prayer and bible reading, for example, was centered on the ruling's damage to the country, not to the churches. Similarly, by singing 'God Bless America,' or reciting 'one nation under God,' we are affirming America's heritage and its glorious future far more than we are worshiping the Almighty."

1991 - Donald Drakeman, JD, PhD 

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a nonprofit legal and educational organization, posted the following position on its website, (accessed Apr. 7, 2006):
"[O]ur system of government schools should not inculcate any particular faith. But neither should those schools prohibit (or even discourage) students from non-disruptive, voluntary, religious expression, such as moments of silence or the Pledge of Allegiance. Indeed, whenever possible, public schools should accommodate whatever religious education and observance students and their parents choose in conscience to pursue. Moreover, basic knowledge of world religions and - because of its special role in Western Civilization - the Bible is a commendable part of any liberal education, but that part is too often neglected or actively avoided in public schools. Similarly, public schools should not ignore or purge the often substantial role of religion in other areas of study such as civics, history, literature, music, and fine arts."

Apr. 7, 2006 - Becket Fund for Religious Liberty 

The National Education Association, a nonprofit organization that advocates for education professionals and public education, wrote the following statements in a Dec. 19, 2003 amicus brief for the United States Supreme Court case Elk Grove Unified School District v. Michael A. Newdow:
"The fact that the Pledge, in describing the character and history of that Republic, refers to the nation as 'under God' does not convert the Pledge into a state-sponsored profession of religious belief such as would violate the Establishment Clause. Rather, the words are best understood as a reflection of the simple historical fact that the Founders believed in a supreme being, and that their belief led them to dedicate the nation to the fundamental secular precept that all men have unalienable rights to liberty and justice."

Dec. 19, 2003 - National Education Association (NEA) 

Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a nonprofit educational and evangelical organization, wrote the following in a Dec. 2003 amicus brief for the US Supreme Court case Elk Grove Unified School District v. Michael A. Newdow:
"The Pledge is a restatement of our uniquely American ideology that men and women are endowed with natural and unalienable human rights. From the equality illustrated by 'liberty and justice for all,' to the unity of our component members in spite of serious differences, articulated in 'one nation' and 'indivisible', the Pledge has stood the test of time and should not now be altered. The phrase now in dispute, 'under God,' simply embodies our notion of unalienable rights endowed by a Creator that no one, whether acting with brute force or under color of law, may ever infringe."

Dec. 2003 - Your Catholic Voice Foundation 

Sam Brownback, JD, United States Senator (R-KS), made the following statement in a Sep. 16, 2005 press release:
"There is nothing more American than the Pledge of Allegiance and an acknowledgement of God is at the heart of our founding principles and is our nation's motto."

Sep. 16, 2005 - Sam Brownback, JD 

Antonin Scalia, LLB, Associate Justice for the United States Supreme Court, made the following comments during a speech he made on Religious Freedom Day, Jan. 23, 2003:
"'In God We Trust' on currency, chaplains in the military, 'nondenominational' prayer before public school sporting events and use of the phrase 'under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance... [These practices] reflect the true tradition of religious freedom in America - a tradition of neutrality among religious faiths. Government will not favor Catholic, Protestants, Muslims, Jews, but the tradition was never that the government had to be neutral between religiousness and non-religiousness."

Jan. 23, 2003 - Antonin Scalia, LLB 

Alberto Gonzales, JD, United States Attorney General under President George W. Bush, made the following statements in a Sep. 15, 2005 press release:
"For more than two hundred years, many of our expressions of national identity and patriotism have referenced God. The Supreme Court, which opens each session by saying 'God save the United States and this honorable Court,' has affirmed time and again that such official acknowledgments of our Nation's religious heritage, foundation, and character are constitutional. The Department of Justice will continue vigorously to defend the ability of American schoolchildren to pledge allegiance to the flag."

Sep. 15, 2005 - Alberto Gonzales, JD 

Conrad Burns, former United States Senator (R-MT), made the following statements in a July 15, 2002 press release:
"For a court of law to render our pledge of allegiance unconstitutional is astounding to me. When I walk into the Capitol, I see the words 'In God We Trust.' It is on our currency, it is one of the core foundations this great nation was founded upon. We are a nation founded upon the acknowledgment of our Creator, this coming from the original flames of freedom by our forefathers in the 1700's. We are a nation that has sacrificed countless lives in defense of our freedoms, its' flag, and the documents that forged that freedom. Last September we came together as a Nation, under our flag, and stood up against a terrible attack against our freedoms. Can our children no longer sing 'God Bless America' or 'America the Beautiful?'"?

July 15, 2002 - Conrad Burns 

Joseph A. Zavaletta, JD, Director of the Center for Civic Engagement at the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College, wrote the following statements in a June 29, 2005 email sent to
"I do support the words 'under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance. The American founders referred to God three times in the Declaration of Independence, the founding document of the United States...

The Pledge of Allegiance is a reference to God as Creator, not Redeemer, and does not establish a religion, but only an historical acknowledgment of His Providential role in the founding of America."

June 29, 2005 - Joseph A. Zavaletta, JD 

Sandra Day O'Connor, LLB, former Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, wrote the following statements in her June 14, 2004 concurring opinion of the judgment made in the United States Supreme Court case Elk Grove Unified School District v. Michael A. Newdow:
"Fifty years have passed since the words 'under God' were added, a span of time that is not inconsiderable given the relative youth of our Nation. In that time, the Pledge has become, alongside the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner, our most routine ceremonial act of patriotism; countless schoolchildren recite it daily, and their religious heterogeneity reflects that of the Nation as a whole. As a result, the Pledge and the context in which it is employed are familiar and nearly inseparable in the public mind."

June 14, 2004 - Sandra Day O'Connor, LLB 

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives (D-CA), stated the following position during a Sep. 23, 2004 House Floor Speech:
"Millions of Americans daily and proudly pledge 'one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.' Let me be clear: I defer to no one in my defense of the voluntary recitation of the Pledge. I strongly believe the phrase 'under God' and the Pledge itself is an uplifting expression of support of the United States."

Sep. 23, 2004 - Nancy Patricia D'Alesandro Pelosi 

The Alliance Defense Fund, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to "provide legal defense and advocacy of religious freedom, the sanctity of human life, and traditional family values," wrote the following in an amicus brief for the 2003 US Supreme Court case Elk Grove Unified School District v. Michael A. Newdow:
"Removing the phrase 'under God' would constitute an absurd repudiation of America's heritage. This is especially true when religious references are combined with patriotic or ceremonial expressions long recognized and respected in our nation's history..."

Dec. 2003 - Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) 

Grant Marylander, JD, Law Partner of Bogue Koury and Marylander LLC, wrote the following position in a Nov. 3, 2005 email to
"As the Pro/Con site demonstrates, our national and state governments have included references to God or a Supreme Being since their inception. These phrases, while unquestionably religious in nature, truly have taken on a more historical context and, as such, their coercive effect seems, at most, minimal. The notion that we must excise all references to God from our government despite our Founding Fathers' own references to God at the time they were embracing the First Amendment seems nonsensical. In my view, when the likelihood of coercion is speculative, the reference to God minimal and, in part, historic, and the adult's participation voluntary, I do not believe the Establishment Clause prohibits the use of the phrase 'under God' in the Pledge."

Nov. 3, 2005 - Grant Marylander, JD 

David Barton, Founder and President of WallBuilders, wrote the following in his organization's Spring 2003 quarterly newsletter titled The Wallbuilder's Report:
"[E]qual rights are not the same as equal power; the minority is never the equivalent of the majority and is never to exercise control over it. Nevertheless, despite a near 90 percent national approval for the use of the Pledge, the 9th Circuit has usurped 'the consent of the governed.' On what basis? Civil libertarians explain that 'the consent of the governed' is nothing more than what they call the 'tyranny of the majority'; however, in opposing that supposed tyranny, Reinhardt has instead instituted a 'tyranny of the minority'.''

Spring 2003 - David Barton 

The Knights of Columbus, a nonprofit Catholic men's fraternal organization, posted the following statements on its website (accessed Sep. 15, 2006):
"If freedom of religion in America means anything at all, it means that it's just as constitutional to recite the Pledge of Allegiance - complete with the words 'under God' - as it is to read aloud the Declaration of Independence. They both express the same truth: that our fundamental rights come from God, our creator, and not from government. To suggest that the language of the First Amendment prohibits the simple statement of that truth is to stand the constitution on its head."

Sep. 15, 2006 - Knights of Columbus 

Derek Davis, JD, PhD, Director of J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies at Baylor University, wrote the following information in his book Religion and the Continental Congress, 1774-1789: Contributions to Original Intent, published in 2000:
"In summary, civil religion has been for much of American history, and remains, a vital cultural force. It is manifested in our own day in prayers at presidential inaugurations, the invocation used each time the Supreme Court itself hears argument ('God save this honorable court'), Thanksgiving and National Day of Prayer proclamations, the words 'under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance, the phrase 'In God We Trust' on coins, various Scripture quotations inscribed on government buildings ('Moses the Lawgiver' is the inscription above the Supreme Court's bench), and even the often recited, ritual presidential benediction 'God Bless America.'

All of these practices are violations of a strict notion of the separation of church and state. Yet they form a rich tradition of practices that are culturally and judicially accommodated. That the judiciary continues to validate these practices without elevating them to constitutionally protected status is an appropriate fusion of the separationist and accommodationist traditions that form the background of church-state relations in America."

2000 - Derek Davis, JD, PhD 

Noah Feldman, JD, PhD, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, wrote the following information in a July 3, 2005 article titled "A Church-State Solution," published by The New York Times:
"Atheists will doubtless maintain that any public religion at all - like 'under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance - excludes them by endorsing the idea of religion generally. But this misses the point: it is an interpretive choice to feel excluded by other people's faiths, and the atheist, like any other dissenter from a majoritarian decision, can just as easily adhere to his own views while insisting on his full citizenship. So long as no one is coerced into invoking God, it makes little sense to accommodate the atheist's scruples by barring everyone else from saying words that he alone finds to be metaphysically empty. Complete subjective inclusion is impossible, so if our goal is to include as many people as possible, we need to reach as widely as possible by letting the ordinary democratic process take its course. The Jehovah's Witnesses, who in the 1940's fought for the right not to salute the flag, never insisted that the salute or the pledge should be abolished altogether - they just wanted their children to be exempt from a mandatory ritual that violated their consciences and hence their religious liberty."

July 3, 2005 - Noah Feldman, JD, PhD 

William Hubbs Rehnquist, JD, former Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, wrote the following statement in his June 14, 2004 concurring opinion of the judgment made in the United States Supreme Court case Elk Grove Unified School District v. Michael A. Newdow:
"Under God [is] in no sense a prayer, nor an endorsement of any religion... reciting the Pledge is a patriotic exercise, not a religious one."

June 14, 2004 - William Rehnquist, JD 

Concerned Women for America, a nonprofit public policy women's organization, made the following statements in a July 19, 2006 press release:
"Americans want to preserve our national pledge, which represents our devotion and loyalty to our country. Hand upon heart, little children across the country should be able to continue reciting this pledge without the fear of it being stripped away by activist judges. Our pledge distinguishes us from many other nations that also proclaim their patriotism. We as Americans are free from an established church and are ensured with the privilege to worship as we choose. Our pledge simply emphasizes that freedom.

The words 'under God' in our Pledge remind us of the many struggles our Founders had to endure through history to secure the freedoms we now enjoy. It is an oath uniting us as a nation and a promise to maintain the honor of our country."

July 19, 2006 - Concerned Women for America 

The National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs, a nonprofit "organization of volunteer lawyers that advocates the position of the Orthodox Jewish community on legal issues," wrote the following statements in a Dec. 2003 amicus brief for the United States Supreme Court case Elk Grove Unified School District v. Michael A. Newdow:
"A declaration in our Pledge of Allegiance that we are 'one nation under God' is not a preference of one theological teaching over another, or an official endorsement of any one faith or group of beliefs. It is, rather, the expression of what has always been acknowledged by humankind...The text of the Pledge of Allegiance recognizes that self-evident truth, fully confirmed by American history, on behalf of the people of the United States of America."

Dec. 2003 - National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs (COLPA) 

W. Todd Akin, MDiv, United States Representative (R-MO), stated the following in a July 2002 press release:
"The decision that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional reflects a misunderstanding of our Constitution. Belief in a Creator is central to the ideas upon which our nation was founded. To suggest that listening to the Pledge of Allegiance may harm any child is absurd. To block schools from allowing the pledge adds arrogance to the absurdity."

July 2002 - W. Todd Akin, MDiv 

Grassfire (formerly, an "online citizen activism" organization, wrote the following statements in a Dec. 2003 amicus brief for the United States Supreme Court case Elk Grove Unified School District v. Michael A. Newdow:
"The words 'under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance are not an unconstitutional establishment of religion. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held this to be the case...

To continue to allow school children to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in its current form does not establish a particular religion or advance a non-secular agenda. To the contrary, the recognition of a creator who is the source of all rights, by the United States government, is the first step towards properly administrating protecting the rights of all American citizens."

Dec. 2003 - Grassfire (formerly 

The Christian Legal Society, a religious public charity, wrote the following statements in a Dec. 2003 amicus brief for the United States Supreme Court case Elk Grove Unified School District v. Michael A. Newdow:
"[T]he phrase 'under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance is an important affirmation of the basis for this nation’s concept of limited government that, in turn, is the basis of our legal system."

Dec. 2003 - Christian Legal Society 

The National School Boards Association, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to create "[e]xcellence in equity and public education through school board leadership," wrote the following statements in a Dec. 2003 amicus brief for the United States Supreme Court case Elk Grove Unified School District v. Michael A. Newdow:
"The recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, when considered in its entirety and in its full context, cannot be considered a religious exercise. First, the words 'under God'...are a historical statement, not a supplication, as would be the case in a prayer or similar religious exercise. Second, the words of the Pledge, read as a whole, are clearly the words of a patriotic statement, not of a religious invocation... This perception is strengthened by the physical acts that accompany the Pledge, such as turning to view the flag. The entire focus of the activity is the flag, which students recognize as a patriotic symbol, not as a religious one. The fact that the flag, rather than God or religion, is the focus of the Pledge, is the very reason why some religious students choose not to participate in its recitation."

Dec. 2003 - National School Boards Association (NSBA) 

The American Humanist Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting humanism, made the following comments in a Sep. 14, 2005 press release:
"The practice of reciting the Pledge in public schools specifically targets children, inculcating them with a monotheistic message not held by millions of Americans. This is not a passive reading of a historic document but an active swearing of a loyalty oath to one's country and, since 1954, an avowal that our nation exists 'under God,' which is tantamount to prayer.

The First Amendment does not require hostility toward religion, but mandates government neutrality toward religion. By imposing a religious belief on those without such beliefs, the current version of the Pledge utterly fails this test."

Sep. 14, 2005 - American Humanist Association 

Michael Newdow, JD, MD, founder of the First Amendmist Church of True Science, wrote the following position on his website (accessed Jan. 30, 2009):
"The First Amendment states 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.' As I understand it, this resulted from the Framers' awareness of the persecution and animosity that inevitably accompanies state religions. With this in mind, they made the decision to ensure religious freedom by keeping the government out of that sensitive area. Personally, I think this was a good idea. And even if I didn't, it's one of the fundamental rules of our society. Thus, when I see our Pledge of Allegiance containing the words 'under God,' I see a gross violation of one of our foremost Constitutional mandates."

Jan. 30, 2009 - Michael Newdow, JD, MD 

Austin Cline, MA, Agnosticism/Atheism guide for, wrote the following opinion in an Oct. 8, 2004 email to
"The phrase 'under God' should never have been added to the Pledge of Allegiance. This measure was designed to pander to political and religious interests and thereby transformed a secular affirmation into a religious oath. Those who insist that it's not religious should ask themselves how they would feel if it read 'under no God' or 'under Allah.' Then they might understand why it's inappropriate."

Oct. 8, 2004 - Austin Cline, MA 

The Humanist Society, a nonprofit religious organization, wrote the following statements in a Feb. 12, 2004 amicus brief for the United States Supreme Court case Elk Grove Unified School District v. Michael A. Newdow:
"The current version of the Pledge of Allegiance, as amended in 1954 to include the phrase 'under God,' violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment... The Pledge is not ceremonial deism as defined by this Court. Reciting the Pledge is an active swearing of loyalty to one's country, not a passive reading or even reciting of a historical document. Furthermore, the phrase 'under God,' like all other phrases in the Pledge, has a distinctive meaning: that this country is presently a nation 'under God,' not a historical acknowledgment that it was founded under a god...

The use of the current version of the Pledge in public schools violates this Court's coercion analysis. Reciting 'under God' is a religious act. Children, while theoretically having the right to opt out of reciting the Pledge, may not do so because of fear of exposure as outsiders, because they do not have the capacity to do so, or because they wish not to appear unpatriotic to their teacher and classmates. Furthermore, the wish of parents for their children not to recite the Pledge may be ignored, indoctrinating them against the parents' will."

Feb. 12, 2004 - Humanist Society 

Jesse Choper, LLB, Earl Warren Professor of Public Law at the University of California at Berkeley, wrote the following statements in his Mar. 24, 2004 UC Berkeley News web article titled "One Nation Under God: Is the Pledge of Allegiance Constitutional?":
"In adding 'under God' to the Pledge of Allegiance, Congress was unquestionably motivated by a religious purpose. To dismiss the phrase as trivial or ceremonial overlooks the special compulsive influences that exist in the context of public schools, which tend to induce schoolchildren to recite the Pledge, thus meaningfully endangering their religious liberty."

Mar. 24, 2004 - Jesse Choper, LLB 

The Institute for Humanist Studies, a nonprofit educational institute, wrote the following statements in a Feb. 10, 2004 amicus brief for the United States Supreme Court case Elk Grove Unified School District v. Michael A. Newdow:
"Daily affirmation of the existence of a specific monotheistic God, or even a generic monotheistic god, is a religious affirmation even if it is draped in the Flag. Thus, a public school district policy that requires teachers to lead willing students in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance with the phrase 'under God' violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment...The phrase 'under God' does not qualify as mere ceremonial deism when included in a daily teacher-led recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance by public school elementary students. It is a government sponsored claim of the existence of a single deity that excludes believers in all other deities and excludes those who do not believe in any deity."

Feb. 10, 2004 - Institute for Humanist Studies (IHS) 

The American Civil Liberties Union, America's largest public interest law firm, made the following statements in a Mar. 24, 2004 press release:
"The government should not be asking impressionable schoolchildren to affirm their allegiance to God at the same time that they are affirming their allegiance to the country...

Removing 'under God' from the Pledge is not anti-religious... just the opposite is true. The only way the religious reference in the Pledge can be upheld is for the Court to conclude that the words 'under God' have no religious meaning, which is far more insulting to people of faith."

Mar. 24, 2004 - American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) 

Steven Epstein, JD, Partner of Hunton & Williams LLP, wrote the following information in his Dec. 1996 article titled "Rethinking the Constitutionality of Ceremonial Deism," published by the Columbia Law Review:
"Since the emergence of its Establishment Clause jurisprudence nearly fifty years ago, the Supreme Court has struggled mightily to explain why ceremonial deism is permitted in our constitutional framework while other practices the Court has invalidated are not. The normative vision embraced by the endorsement test is blurred beyond recognition if practices such as... a Pledge of Allegiance to a nation 'under God,' and the like are permitted to persist. Any explanation of why these practices survive constitutional scrutiny under this test, while school prayer and other practices invalidated by the Court do not, is hopelessly inadequate."

Dec. 1996 - Steven Epstein, JD 

The Council for Secular Humanism, a nonprofit educational organization, wrote the following statement in its Spring 2004 quarterly newsletter Secular Humanist Bulletin:
"What we want is a society, and a Pledge, that is equally inclusive of both believers and us. This can be accomplished by simply having the Pledge fall silent with respect to God."

2004 - Council for Secular Humanism 

Rob Sherman, founder of Rob Sherman Advocacy, wrote the following position in a May 18, 2007 email to
"The First Amendment prohibition against government establishing religion precludes the government from deciding what religious belief is true. 'One nation under God' is indisputably a statement of religious belief. By including 'under God' in the Pledge, the government is unconstitutionally using patriotism as a secular cover for proselytizing that particular religious belief."

May 18, 2007 - Rob Sherman 

John E. Thompson, JD, Associate at Shearman and Sterling, wrote in the article "What's the Big Deal? The Unconstitutionality of God in the Pledge of Allegiance," published in the Summer 2003 issue of Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review:
"'Under God' may be only two words, but they reflect a pervasive pattern of government behavior the suppresses the development of atheistic and nontheistic beliefs. The words limit, rather than promote, religious pluralism."

2003 - John E. Thompson, JD 

The James Randi Educational Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to "promote critical thinking by reaching out to the public and media with reliable information about paranormal and supernatural ideas so widespread in society," wrote the following in its June 2002 online newsletter Swift:
"Some readers have commented on my objections to the 'God' inclusions in the Pledge of Allegiance, and on U.S. currency. Quite simply, I regard it as the intrusion of religion into government, a blatant attempt to establish a one-god, Christian philosophy on Americans, many of whom have no belief in, nor allegiance to, any deity -  or who choose to worship another, different, deity. In my opinion, it's a direct violation of the 'separation of church and state' principle, something I highly value, as do so many others."

June 2002 - James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) 

Atheists and Other Freethinkers, a nonprofit educational organization, wrote the following statements in a Dec. 19, 2003 amicus brief for the United States Supreme Court case Elk Grove Unified School District v. Michael A. Newdow:
"No child should incur teacher condescension or classmate derision for holding to the ultimate beliefs of the parents who have entrusted education of that child to the school. However, it happens when youngsters and adults of conscience are pressed by circumstance to conform to the Pledge ritual in its current form.

Return of the Pledge to its pre-1954 form would remove the phraseology, the dilemma, the divisiveness, and the harm for this segment of the population."

Dec. 19, 2003 - Atheists and Other Freethinkers 

David H. Remes, JD, Partner of Covington and Burling LLP, was quoted as having said the following in an Associated Press article titled "4th Circuit Upholds Virginia's Pledge law," published on Aug. 10, 2005:
"The problem is that young school children are quite likely to view the pledge as affirming the existence of God and national subordination to God. The reference to God is one of the few things in the pledge that children understand."

Aug. 10, 2005 - David H. Remes, JD 

The Anti-Defamation League, a civil rights public charity, wrote the following opinion in the Nov. 14, 2003 article "Jewish Organizations Split Over Pledge Case Strategy," published by Forward:
"We're dealing with schoolchildren and with role models in schools who are required to lead it. The circumstances are inherently fraught with compulsion or coercion and we feel that's a violation of church-state separation."

Nov. 14, 2003 - Anti-Defamation League (ADL) 

American Atheists, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to "secure our freedom from religion," stated the following position during congressional testimony given on Sep. 14, 1988:
"When the government of the United States sees fit to place the value of patriotism or adherence to constitutional principles predominantly in a religious context, whether on coins or in the form of a pledge, an oath, or an invocation, it serves to weaken the bonds that hold all citizens of this country in common."

Sep. 14, 1988 - American Atheists 

Lawrence G. Sager, LLB, Dean of the School of Law of the University of Texas at Austin, wrote the following statements in a Dec. 2003 amicus brief for the United States Supreme Court case Elk Grove Unified School District v. Michael A. Newdow:
"A pledge policy that offers no officially recognized, fully secular alternative has another deep constitutional vice. It conveys the unmistakable message that those who find it distasteful or an affront to their system of beliefs to pledge their allegiance to a nation described as being 'under God' are not worthy of participating in a community ceremony of national allegiance."

Dec. 2003 - Lawrence G. Sager, LLB 

Barbara A. McGraw, JD, PhD, wrote the following statements in a Feb. 13, 2004 amicus brief for the United States Supreme Court case Elk Grove Unified School District v. Michael A. Newdow:
"The peoples of our nation are not united in their understanding of the meaning of the word 'God,' or even in their understanding of what it would mean for this Court to reverse the Ninth Circuit's decision. In fact, contemporary arguments about the meaning of the word 'God' are rife with particularized religious content. In such an environment, this Court should not sanction a Pledge of Allegiance that separates Americans into the preferred and the marginalized...

In other words, it is because ours is a nation of individuals under God, or more accurately, it is because ours is a nation grounded in each individual's relationship with the Divine (however conceived by conscience), that a policy requiring teachers to lead school children in the recitation of a Pledge of Allegiance, which includes the words 'under God,' is unconstitutional."

Feb. 13, 2004 - Barbara A. McGraw, JD, PhD 

C. Welton Gaddy, PhD, President of The Interfaith Alliance at the time of the quote, wrote the following in an Oct. 14, 2003 Interfaith Alliance press release:
"When the phrase 'under God' is included in the Pledge of Allegiance, it is not only a violation of the Constitution but its mere presence demeans religion. 'God' is not a name to be used by a government to advance its political causes."

Oct. 14, 2003 - C. Welton Gaddy, PhD 

Erwin Chemerinsky, JD, Alston & Bird Professor of Law at Duke University, wrote the following statements in an Oct. 15, 2003 Los Angeles Times article titled "Court Must Buck Political Pressure in Pledge Case":
"As a matter of 1st Amendment law, this should be an easy one. The high court should affirm the 9th Circuit's decision and hold that it is not for the government to encourage students to express a religious belief."

Oct. 15, 2003 - Erwin Chemerinsky, JD 

The Church of Freethought, a nonprofit public charity, wrote the following statements in a 2004 amicus brief for the United States Supreme Court case Elk Grove Unified School District v. Michael A. Newdow:
"[T]he theological doctrines embodied in the 1954 'under God' insertion are foreign if not antithetical to the principles on which the Republic was founded, and, in particular, to the principle of church-state separation embodied in the First Amendment."

2004 - Church of Freethought 

Jon Carroll, writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote the following position in the June 27, 2002 San Francisco Chronicle article titled "Atheists and Pantheists May Take a Moment to Bask in Victory":
"As a matter of common sense, the court's ruling is both sensible and obvious. 'Under God' is intrusive and unnecessary in a pledge of patriotism; we're not speaking as believers; we are speaking as citizens."

- Jon Carroll 

Bruce Prescott, PhD, Executive Director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists, was quoted as having said the following in the Oct. 2005 issue of The Baptist Studies Bulletin:
"Turning from proclamation to politics, however, requires much duplicitous testimony. In public, politically powerful preachers will declare that the nation must acknowledge allegiance to God and will contend that the public square would be naked without meaningful references to Deity. In court, slick lawyers will argue that the oath in the pledge does not establish a religion because the words 'under God' have 'no significant religious content.' How fundamentalist Christians can so callously profane the name of their Lord - making it legally meaningless and publicly bearing false witness about it - reveals something about the depth of either their understanding or their spirituality, especially when they are leading a simultaneous crusade to post the Decalogue in public places."

Oct. 2005 - Bruce Prescott, PhD 

Ed Buckner, PhD, Southern Director of the Council for Secular Humanism, posted in July 2002 the following position on the Council for Secular Humanism website,
"Expressing fealty to a god should not be a condition of citizenship. Love of country is not, nor should it be, measured by a citizen's religious belief or lack thereof. Many secular humanists, atheists, and agnostics have laid down their lives for this country. It has been 200 years since Thomas Jefferson's letter made famous the phrase 'a wall of separation between church and state' approved of by 'the whole American people,' and yet there is still controversy over the idea. There should not be. The choice, despite what some say, really is between having a free country and having an officially religious nation. You can have one or the other, but not both; and religious believers should join me in choosing freedom, as the framers of our Constitution did and as logic dictates, not just for my sake but for their own."

July 2002 - Ed Buckner, PhD 

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