"Under God" Should be Removed from the Pledge of Alegiance
I accept this debate. I look forward towards your arguments.
First, the mention of "God" in the pledge of allegiance is a violation of separation of church and state. As a nation, we have elected to try our best to keep the government completely free of religious influences. Yet, somehow, we acknowledge a single god used only by some religions in the official pledge to our country. Yet, this is taken a step further. The majority of schools have their kids say the pledge of allegiance at some point during the day, yet not all kids are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or even monotheistic. Those kids are forced, not legally, but via teacher encouragement and peer pressure, to acknowledge a god they do not believe in.
Second, the mention of God in the pledge contradicts the first amendment, which states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." True, congress didn't necessarily write the pledge, but the obvious intent of this statement is to prevent the government from acknowledging one religion over another. The pledge, as it currently stands, clearly acknowledges the monotheistic god of Christians, Jews, and (arguably) Muslims, over deities in Hindu/Buddhist/etc. faiths, or even over no faith at all.
Third, it wasn't even there originally. The only reason "under God" is in the pledge at all was because Eisenhower added it in 1954 in response to the Communist threat. Eisenhower thought that it would remind Americans to remain "humble," despite their strength, and that it would help to unify the nation against the communists. A great idea, but not a very unifying one. The only people it would have had any effect on was Christians (despite the fact that the Christian, Jewish and (again, arguably) Muslim god are technically the same thing), because it was a movement from the Knights of Columbus that originally influenced "under God" to be added. So, it wouldn't even by unifying among Christians. Just among Catholics. It excludes any of the millions of non-Catholics living in the US. Hardly what we need for patriotism and unification.
The mention of God in the pledge defies what we're most proud of in our country. Our diversity. We have people and cultures from all over the world here, and mentioning God makes us forget what we are : a nation of immigrants. We can't pretend as if some cultures and beliefs take precedence over others. This is supposed to be the one place on the globe where that doesn't happen. If we want to truly have a pledge to inspire people to stay loyal to this nation, the unnecessary "under God" has to go.
It is a pleasure to be debating noah364 on this topic so critical and revelant to our country's religions and discussion. Without any further adieu, I will now present my arguments and refute my opponents.
1. Saying "Under God" is not forced.
When anyone recites the Pledge of Allegiance (hereafter POA), the words "Under God" are not forced upon anyone. They can choose to say the POA or not to say it. They also, when saying the POA, can say "Under God" or "Under Gods" or abstain from those two words all together. It is not forced by any legal means and is simply an acknowledgement of America's religious heritage (more on this later).
2. Phrase has overwhelming public support.
After a decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Senate and House voted in keeping the POA as it stood. The Senate vote was 99–0 (with an absence); the House 416–3 with 11 abstaining. President George W. Bush and many other politicians spoke out in favor of the existing Pledge . Barack Obama, the most liberal 20th century president, also supports "Under God" in the POA . In the public eye, poll after poll has shown "Under God" has a massive amount of public support. A FOX News poll showed that 90% of surveyed adults support the phrase remaining in place . A SurveyUSA poll showed that 97% of Republicans and Conservatives, 89% of Moderates and 81% of liberals support the statement "The Pledge of Allegiance is OK as written." . In terse words, the phrase has overwhelming public support in both Congress and the population.
3. Phrase does not endorse specific Religion and only identifies Heritage and Religion in Public Life.
It is known and recognized by many historians that America has roots in various religions [8 is a great video]. Of the 55 delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, 49 were Protestants, and two were Roman Catholics  In U.S. Code, 68 references to God are made . In every State Constitution, at least one reference to God is made  As it is well known, prayer and references to God are made in Congressional hearings, Supreme Court meetings and Presidential inaugurations numerous times. A Supreme Court ruling upholds the right to open such meetings with this prayer. In the ruling Marsh v. Chambers, the judges state the following:
"In light of the unambiguous and unbroken history of more than 200 years, there can be no
Religion has become such a central part to American political life and plays such a large part in our heritage that saying a phrase such as "Under God" is not a reference to an established religion, it is merely a government stated reference to who we were and are.
1. For one, the "Separation of Church and State" is not in the United States Constitution. Secondly, references to God appears in many parts of US code, prayers are used to open Congressional sessions and Supreme Court meetings and, when the president is sworn into office he both is allowed to put his hand on a Bible and affirms "...so help me God." Basically, the United States government does have a non-specific religion in the government. Thirdly, there is no force occurring to make people (in schools and in general) say the POA with "Under God" or to say it at all.
2. Courts, and people, all over the country, have stated time and time again that the two words, "Under God" do not violate the establishment clause      
3. My opponent gets his history on Eisenhower correct here. However, his other accusations on the 1954 addition of the phrase being non-unifying or that it "...movement from the Knights of Columbus..." is not supported by a source or anything other than his own words. Thus, this point is factless and meaningless.
4. I discredit that diversity is the most important thing that defines our country. But, let us say we do value this over all else. The POA does not endorse a specific religion and is merely acknowledging our American heritage with the Founders and our American public life. It is not forced, and is open to people mentioning more than one God or not mentioning God at all when reciting the POA. It is open to diversity and does not exclude it.
I have effectively shown that "Under God" is appropriate based on its popular support and ties to our heritage while providing 14 sources. I have also effectively refuted my opponent's case.
A vote for Con is strongly encouraged.
Sources in comments.
First, I will begin by responding to my opponent's arguments.
1. Saying "Under God" is not forced.
I believe I acknowledged this in the previous round. People are not legally forced to say "under God," but they are expected to. This is especially relevant to children, who hardly have the ability to understand the argument of "a tolerable acknowledgment of beliefs widely held among the people of this country." (quoted from my opponent's third contention). As quoted from a list of arguments made in favor of the Proposition on the website of the Secular Coalition for America, "Beginning each public school day with the Pledge of Allegiance forces non-theistic children to either acknowledge God or stand out as a protester." Maybe with adults this may not be a problem, but children recite the pledge every day, and are faced with these two unfavorable options. And as we all know, children are not the most..accepting of those who stand out.
It's wrong to put any child in this type of awkward position. David Niose, president of the American Humanist Association says it best by stating, "No child should go to school each day to have the class declare that her religious beliefs are wrong in an exercise that portrays her and her family as less patriotic than believers."
2. Phrase has overwhelming public support.
I would like to respond to the different portions of this contention individually.
First, my opponent cites a Fox News survey as part of his evidence. However, Fox news is infamous for its conservative bias (see the study conducted by FAIR.org, and the one conducted by media critic Eric Wemple). As even these statistics show that conservatives are by far the most supportive of keeping "under God" in the POA, it's not unreasonable to rule these statistics out as clearly biased.
The same can be said for the SurveyUSA poll. SurveyUSA operates using over-the-phone automated surveys, so there is no way to be sure that any respondents are actually within the stated demographics, or that a balanced poll was taken. Over-the-phone surveys rely heavily on luck; whether or not the numbers being called actually pick up an unrecognized number.
We also must remember that children, the ones most affected by this issue, are not eligible to participate in surveys. We are essentially sampling a group on which the topic has little effect.
Even if these statistics are reliable, we have to remember to protect the rights of the minority. As stated in the Niose quote "NO' child should have to endure this type of pressure. These statistics simply reinforce the notion that peer pressure can lead to America being a monotheistic place for those with a separate or no faith.
3. Phrase does not endorse specific Religion and only identifies Heritage and Religion in Public Life.
My opponent states that the 55 delegates who attended the Constitutional Convention had roots in various religions, but he then contradicts himself by giving only two branches of the same religion, Christianity. The remaining signers were deists, who, while not technically Christian, were still monotheistic. This brings the grand total of religions present at the Constitutional Convention to ...two (one, if you consider deism a set of beliefs rather than a true religion). Christianity has deep roots sunk into the law. Just because the mention of God is prevalent in our State Constitutions doesn't make it justified. It just demonstrates the urgent updating we need to keep America a society without an official religion. Besides, because no-one I know of reads their state constitution aloud in class every day, there isn't any peer pressure to conform to beliefs that aren't your own.
The same can be said for the right to pray at the beginning of political meetings and ceremonies. Of course, you have the right to pray wherever and whenever you want. But that praying isn't always an official, legal part of the aforementioned meetings and ceremonies, and when it is, rarely are people actively encouraged to pray by a teacher or by peers. (Many people can just switch off their televisions).
In addition, "under God" is clearly a reference to an established religion. Grammarist.com establishes that in commonly used phrases, "God" is capitalized because it references the biblical God, and the word God is treated as a name. "God" is rarely capitalized in polytheistic religions, and as "God" is capitalized in the POA, it is a clear reference to the Judeo-Christian deity. Saying that "under God" references "who we were and are" is partly true. It definitely references who we were, but not who we are. We are a nation of already huge religious diversity; diversity that's only climbing. The Hindu American foundation shows an increase in Hindus by 1,000,000 people in 8 years (1997-2004), and reports currently that 3.29 million Hindus live in the US, approximately 1 million of which are not of Indian origin. In total, Christians and Jews make up only 83.1% of our population, meaning that "under God" disregards the beliefs (or lack thereof) of 16.9% of our population. (US Religious Landscape Survey).
Taking "under God" out of the POA won't hurt anybody. Any religious monotheists can feel free to continue to say it. However, those two words put unneeded pressure on minority individuals of our society, especially children, to conform with beliefs that aren't theirs for the sake of fully pledging their loyalty to their country. 17% is a significant chunk of our population.
In response to my opponent's refutations:
1. Reference my refutation to contention 3, in which I say the mention of God in certain ceremonies and meetings is in no way official, and that the appearance of "God" in parts (many of which are quite old) of the US code does not justify retaining the words "under God", but rather demonstrates how we need to work on abolishing mention of religion. Also, reference my first contention, in which I quote straight out of the Constitution, a phrase with the obvious intent of preventing the institution of any religion in any way. Finally, reference my refutation to contention 1, in which I state that saying "under God" is not legally enforced, but is rather enforced by peer and teacher pressure, and the want to not be an outsider from the group.
2. This is a case in which the letter of the law, not the intent of the law, is being considered. As congress did not write the POA, no law is technically being violated with "under God"'s inclusion. However, this clause demonstrates everything within the Constitution's jurisdiction (if that's the right word) to prevent the official establishment of any religion in any way by the government.
3. I apologize for the lack of inclusion of the source from which I took that information. It's link .
4. Reference my refutation to contention 3.
All sources are posted in the comments section.
Many thanks to my opponent for his timely response.
1. The important thing to remember is that there is no legal force to say these words. Further, my opponent did not present any empirical evidence that this actually occurs in classrooms. All he has as evidence is two quotes from groups that support his cause, which is not evidence.
With children, many non-theistic kids can choose not to say the POA at all, or, if they choose to do so, can leave out the two words. The POA is said, in almost/probably every instance in schools, in groups. In a group, one can chose not to say those words and not be bullied or anything, as the voices of the other kids will drown out those who do not want to say it.
A Gallup Poll showed that, actually, a large majority of kids, 59%, feel free to say the POA if they don't want to:
Plus, teacher peer pressure, when it occurs, usually ends in a teacher's suspension. A teacher in Florida tried to force a child to say the POA and was promptly suspended .
To summarize, my opponent did not present any evidence showing that peer and teacher pressure is an occurring thing. I showed that a large majority of kids do not feel forced into saying the POA at all and presented a case of a teacher being suspended for trying to pressure a teen. It still stands that this is not forced.
2. First and foremost, I extend my arguments about the popularity of the phrase in Congress, who are the voice of the people and represent the desires of the people.
There are other polls which demonstrate how mush public support the phrase "Under God" has: Associated Press conducted a survey of 1,001 adults; of which, 87% support the phrase "Under God" being kept in the POA. ABC News/Washington Post conducted a survey of 1,024 adults. 89% supported the phrase being kept in the POA [7 from last round]. There are a few more polls in that source which my opponent could have seen.
I don't deny that FOX News has bias in political commentary. However, one must remember that this is largely attributed to commentary on the station and not as much with the polling. My opponent's link did not seem to deal with the polling at the network, only with the broadcasting and website.
SurveyUSA is found to be, in reality, a quite accurate polling center  
My opponent also wants information on how the support for kids and teenagers is on this question. Gallup conducted a survey and found the following:
92% of teens support keeping the POA with the words "Under God" in it. The study also found the following:
"Among teens, support for keeping the pledge as it is transcends racial, religious, political, and geographic lines. More than 85% of teens in every demographic group support keeping "under God" in the pledge."
Pubic support for the phrase stands as being overwhelming.
3. I do not deny the fact that there were Deists at the Constitutional Convention. This does not change the fact that they were religious and righteous people who used and referenced God numerous times. I have already presented information on how Christianity, religions and God, in general, played during the early foundations of our nation [8 and 11 from last round]. My opponent's argument that succeed don't seem very relevant, as "Under God" or "God" as in the State's Constitutions is not at all a reference to a established religion. The words are acknowledgement of the God who had tries in America's early foundation and our culture today.
Is this respecting an established religion? Of course not! The God is vague. It can be Jewish God, an Islamic God or a Christian God or any other type of God. Polytheistic religions have no bearing as this phrase as references to God have to do with the Founder's early religious ties and the current culture, which has to do with a God as I have shown. Polytheistic religions still have respect and rights, but simply not the role Monotheism plays in America's heritage. Here are the Founders themselves speaking about religion and a sole God in society:
The Founders here reference a God or a Biblical God. Saying "Under God" is nothing more than respecting the desires of our Founders and the Religion in our culture today.
Also, it is important to note that there are Chaplains of the U.S. Senate and HOR whose official job is opening Congressional sessions with prayer.   Thus, this discredits the idea of my opponent that beginning Congressional sessions with prayer is not official.
Essentially, my opponent feels compelled to have 17% of the population (who do not all oppose it as seen in my refutation in 2) control the culture of the rest of the population. A strong majority of people still support this phrase and this is simply paying respect to the desires of our Founders. The religion, while monotheistic, is vague and unclear and is not an Established Religion.
1. Turn to my refutations in 1, 2 and 3 to see a response to this. Most of what my opponent says here is referencing to his arguments, which I have already refuted in 1, 2 and 3.
2. My opponent did not seem to read the court decisions here. In them all, they realize that the Establishment Clause applies to government whether or not Congress writes the rules or not. The 6, and many other, court cases still stand.
3. I thank my opponent for providing a source. However, if I may ask colloquially, so what? The phrase, as found in a 1953 Gallup Poll was very unifying:
4. Refer to my refutation in 3.
My opponent has stated that there is force, both legal and peer, to say this. I have refuted this.
My opponent has endeavored to refute the massive public support for this, which I have shown to not stand up to scrutiny.
My opponent has claimed that this nation and nation's culture is not and should not, in accordance with our Constitution, have any interaction whatsoever with religion. I have shown through Court cases and history of America's Founders that this is false.
My opponent's case has failed. The resolution stands negated.
I urge a vote for Con.
Sources in Comments.
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