Is the United States a Monotheistic (One God) State?


General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Fox News reported on June 27, 2002 that:

"[T]he appeals court [U.S. 9th Circuit of Appeals] said that an atheist or a holder of certain non-Judeo-Christian beliefs could see it [inclusion of 'under God'] as an endorsement of monotheism."

June 27, 2002 - FOX News 



PRO (yes)

Steven H. Shiffrin, JD, Professor of Law at Cornell Law School, wrote in a Nov. 2004 article published in the Cornell Law Review:

"[I]t seems clear that generalized governmental endorsements of monotheism are consistent with the Establishment Clause. It seems clear that, despite all the lip service to equality, the United States Constitution is best interpreted to be consistent with monotheistic ceremonial prayers that do not involve coercion. Indeed, Justice Douglas was on to something when he said that our institutions presuppose a divine being."

Nov. 2004 - Steven H. Shiffrin, JD 



Antonin Scalia, LLB, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, wrote in his June 27, 2005 dissent of McCreary County v ACLU :

"If religion in the public forum had to be entirely nondenominational, there could be no religion in the public forum at all. One cannot say the word 'God,' or 'the Almighty,' one cannot offer public supplication or thanksgiving, without contradicting the beliefs of some people that there are many gods, or that God or the gods pay no attention to human affairs. With respect to public acknowledgment of religious belief, it is entirely clear from our Nation's historical practices that the Establishment Clause permits this disregard of polytheists and believers in unconcerned deities, just as it permits the disregard of devout atheists. The Thanksgiving Proclamation issued by George Washington at the instance of the First Congress was scrupulously nondenominational--but it was monotheistic."

June 27, 2005 - Antonin Scalia, LLB 



Darryn Beckstrom, MA and MPA, wrote a Nov. 22, 2005 editorial in the The Badger Herald:

"The government should be allowed to endorse monotheism. But such an endorsement would not allow the government to endorse different monotheist religions, such as Christianity, Judaism, or Islam. In keeping with the intent of this nation, this is indeed a reasonable interpretation of the Constitution, as an endorsement of monotheism would allow for the presence of God in our nation's courtrooms, classrooms, and government buildings.

It would also keep frivolous 'Newdow' lawsuits from falling into the hands of activist judges who could potentially threaten the belief system this nation was built upon."

Nov. 22, 2005 - Darryn Beckstrom, MA 



CON (no)

John Shuck, MDiv, Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Elizabethton, Tennessee, wrote in the Aug. 10, 2002 Billings Gazette:

"[O]ur faith will not be compromised by learning the wisdom from people who practice other religions, like my Jain friend from Lowville. On the contrary, our faith and our nation will be enriched.

Perhaps, we are not 'one nation under God' after all.

A more accurate description of our country may be that we are 'one nation under many gods' whom (we hope) will all 'get along wonderfully.'"

Aug. 10, 2002 - John Shuck, MDiv 



In Newdow v. U.S., (2002), the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision written by Judge Goodwin, held:

"In the context of the Pledge, the statement that the United States is a nation 'under God' is an endorsement of religion. It is a profession of a religious belief, namely, a belief in monotheism.

The recitation that ours is a nation 'under God' is not a mere acknowledgment that many Americans believe in a deity. Nor is it merely descriptive of the undeniable historical significance of religion in the founding of the Republic. Rather, the phrase 'one nation under God' in the context of the Pledge is normative. To recite the Pledge is not to describe the United States."

2002 - Newdow v. US (65 KB)  



Paul Kurtz, PhD, and Chairman of the Council for Secular Humanism, wrote in the Fall 2001 Free Inquiry:

"The United States is not a monotheistic nation either. Its citizens hold a wide range of beliefs, from atheism through monotheism to polytheism and even pantheism. The vigorous doctrinal disputes that have invigorated life throughout the nation's history should provide sufficient evidence of America's religious diversity."

Fall 2001 - Paul Kurtz, PhD