One Nation Under God—Sort of
This term, the United States Supreme Court will consider the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance. At issue is whether the phrase "under God" suggests a government establishment of religion, and therefore whether the pledge should be banned from public schools. We firmly hope the justices leave well enough alone.
The arguments for the validity of these two controversial words "under God" are varied and strong, as many commentators have already noted. Robert Destro of Catholic University of America presented a fine summary of the political arguments in an amicus curiae br /ief:
All three br /anches of our federal government have long recognized the premise from which Jefferson argued his Declaration of Independence, namely that our freedom is grounded in an authority higher than the State … If reciting the Pledge is unconstitutional simply because it refers to a nation "under God," then reciting the Declaration of Independence, which refers to the Creator as the source of rights, is surely cast in doubt. And that would mean that publicly acknowledging the traditional grounding of our rights itself arguably violates those very rights. That would be an earthquake in our national ethos.
Professor Destro seems mistaken about only one thing: the earthquake happened long ago. It wasn't one big shock, but mini-tremors that over decades created a deep chasm in American life.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn br /ought this chasm to America's attention in 1978 in his now-famous Harvard commencement address, "A World Split Apart." In the last three centuries, all moral and spiritual limitations, all Christian notions of duty and sacrifice, have slowly been discarded in the West. While we've safeguarded human rights, "man's sense of responsibility ...