The potential outcome of this court ruling is the removal of the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, which has heartened church-state separatists and riled the religious right, who believe this is another case of activist judges and liberals attempting to bar all traces of religion from public life in America.
This legal saga began in 2002 when athiest Michael Nednow sued to have the phrase “under God” removed from the Pledge of Allegiance, which his young daughter was compelled to recite in school. In 2004 the Supreme Court ruled that, as he was not the child’s primary guardian (Michael and her mother are divorced), Nednow could not launch the legal action on her behalf.
After his initial defeat, Nednow obviously sought out more solid legal advice, and sued again on behalf of himself and other like-minded Elk Grove parents. They won.
Nednow’s case has seen much coverage in the press, and as a result has brought to light a largely forgotten fact: The words “under God” were not originally part of the pledge, but were added in 1954 during the midst of the McCarthy Era. Pushed by the Catholic mens’ group Knights of Columbus and a few members of their own ranks, the United States Congress signed the new wording into law as an effort to distinguish capitalistic (i.e American) faith from communistic (i.e. Soviet) atheism.
UPDATE: Communism was officially declared dead years ago after a series of significant events; chief among these were the opening of the Berlin Wall on November 11, 1989, and the resignation of Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the Communist Party and leader of the USSR, on Christmas Day, 1991.
In the context of these historical events of the late 80s and early 90s, the question comes to mind: If Godless communism was the impetus for the addition of “under God” into the Pledge of Allegiance, why wasn’t that phrase removed after its fall?
I can almost imagine Ronald Reagan circa 1992, no longer president, but still the man widely credited with bringing communism to an end, speaking to Congress before a huge banner reading “Mission Accomplished.” Afterward everyone would enjoy handshakes, pats on the back, cigars and jellybeans in the foyer.
“Under God” is as much a relic of the Cold War as the idea of a nuclear missile “shield” protecting the US. Perhaps it is time to bring our pledge up to date.