The Words "Under God" Should Be Removed From The Pledge of Allegiance
Debate Rounds (5)
Round 1: Acceptance Only
Rounds 2-4: Arguments
Round 5: Closing Argument
I will be taking the "Pro" position, believing the words "under God" should be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. I look forward to meeting and debating my opponent.
"I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
The Pledge went through several grammatical changes throughout the years, but substantially it remained the same. In 1952, after pressure from the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization, Congress added the words "under God" making "one nation, under God, indivisible." This change may have been a political move to differentiate the United States from the "godless" Soviet Union. The pledge has since been repeatedly challenged and upheld by the Supreme Court.
The problem with the phrase "under God" is that it is in direct violation of the First Amendment.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."
When we say the pledge, we not only pledge allegiance to America, we proclaim our faith in God. Why is that necessary? I ask you, how is this acceptable to have our children proclaim this, every day before school? "Under God" is tantamount to school prayer. Members of the Republican Party* frequently proclaim "The Second protects the First", but then they desecrate the First as much as the left is guilty of desecrating the Second. The pledge is in clear violation of the Establishment Clause, and I look forward to my opponent's rebuttal.
*I identify as a libertarian.
Pro has effectively outlined the debate by stating that the words, "under God" are a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First amendment. It is here where I will focus my attention. In the interest of fairness, I will forgo any rebuttal of Pro"s arguments until later in rounds 3 and 4. In this round I will simply state my initial arguments.
As far as I know, the Supreme Court of the United States has not directly ruled on whether or not these words are unconstitutional, but there have been rulings indicating that an individual cannot be compelled to recite the pledge (1).
In evaluating whether a statute violates the Establishment Clause, the use of the "Lemon Test" has been used (2). By no means does the "Lemon Test" offer itself as the determining factor of constitutionality, but at least it provides a good guide.
I will list the three parts of the Lemon Test and my position on each part as they relate to the Pledge.
1. The statute must have a secular legislative purpose
As pro has alluded to in the last round, the addition of the words happened during the McCarthy area. Their inclusion served to differentiate the U.S. from other atheistic/communistic countries. Any strictly religious motivation for their inclusion has now diluted into the realm of ceremonial deism along with Christmas celebrations and the words "In God We Trust" on our currency (3).
2. It principal or primary effect must be on that neither advances nor inhibits religion
As stated above, the inclusion of the words, "under God" is a nominally religious custom which neither advances nor inhibits any particular religion. The non-compulsory use of the pledge maintains the church/state boundary.
3. The statute must not foster an excessive government entanglement with religion.
For the reasons stated above, having the words "under God" in the pledge does not represent excessive government entanglement with religion. No particular religion is specified. An individual is not compelled to recite it. It poses no threat to any particular religion, nor does it represent a bias towards any religion.
Again, I thank Pro for the debate. He has posed specific questions he would like me to address, and I will do so in the subsequent rounds.
FolkCat1234 forfeited this round.
Unfortunately I do not have the benefit of Pro's Round 3 arguments. In this round I will rebut Pro's arguments from round 2 and extend my previous arguments.
Round 2 Rebuttals
Pro has charged that the phrase "under God" is a direct violation of the First Amendment. I have distilled his arguments into two salient points (shown below in italics). I will not address Pro's remarks related to the Republican Party as I do not consider them relevant to this debate.
By reciting the words, "under God" within the pledge, we proclaim our faith in God
I do not follow the logic here. When making a proclamation of faith, one articulates the specifics of what is believed. I ask Pro to identify where in the pledge is this articulation? Is it simply a proclamation of faith to "God"? If so, then which God? Is it a Jewish, Christian, Muslim or Pastafarian God? It is Zeus, Apollo, Thor or Ra? I could go on, but you get my point. Unlike the Nicene Creed (1), the Pledge is not a proclamation of faith, because the specifics of one's faith are not proclaimed
The establishment clause essentially says that Congress can make no law regarding religion. That is, it can't promote one religion over the other, or create a religion, or pass a law forcing people to follow a religion, or to not follow a religion, or forcing people to pray, etc. I just don't see how these particular words in a non-compulsory pledge violate the clause. In round 2 I used the "Lemon Test" to show how these words are not unconstitutional.
Although not directly germane to the debate, my personal opinion is that the inclusion of those words echoes our recognition of our right to believe (or not to believe) in a supreme being. Every religion has its own definition of its God. Whatever that image is or isn't, we are all free to believe or not believe without fear from our government.
By reciting the words, "under God" within the pledge, it is tantamount to school prayer
Prayer is a form of communication (petition, adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, etc) to an object of worship (2). There is no direct communication to a perceived deity here. When the words "One Nation under God" are spoken, they are merely describing an attribute of "one nation". The word, "indivisible" functions the same way. I am certain Pro would not suggest that using the word "indivisible" in the pledge is tantamount to school prayer. There is no prayer here whatsoever.
Pro has identified two reasons to support his claim, and I believe I have successfully disputed both. I have shown how the words "under God" neither constitute and proclamation of faith, nor a prayer. Again, I extend my round 2 arguments to the next round.
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