Last updated on: 2/4/2009 | Author:

Noah Feldman, JD, PhD Biography

Professor of Law at Harvard Law School
Pro to the question "Should the Words “under God” Be in the US Pledge of Allegiance?"

“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

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Professor of Law, Harvard Law School, 2006-present
  • Carnegie Scholar, 2005-2006
  • Cecelia Goetz Professor of Law, New York University School of Law, 2001-2006
  • Former clerk, U.S. Supreme Court
  • JD, Yale Law School, 1997
  • PhD, Islamic Thought, Rhodes Scholar, Oxford University, 1994
  • BA, Harvard University, 1992
  • None found
Quoted in:
  1. Did the Founding Fathers Support a Separation of Church and State?