Is God so small he needs a Pledge for validation?

Saw this bit from columnist Tony Norman over at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Hopefully I won’t get in too much trouble for posting the whole editorial, but I couldn’t find a satisfactory way to quote from it and still get the gist of it across. Anyway, Tony writes:

They probably weren’t aware of it at the time, but the House members who gathered on the steps of the Capitol on Wednesday to recite the Pledge of Allegiance were part of a tradition of civil religion stretching back 3,500 years when “one nation under God” really meant something.

Like the 450 priests of Baal driven to distraction by the “unbelief” of the prophet Elijah on Mount Carmel, our exceptionally devout Congress met the challenge posed by a panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by calling down the equivalent of fire from heaven on the jurists.

As a sign of their great, defiant faith, Congress recited the Pledge of Allegiance declared unconstitutional that very morning by “atheist-coddling” judges. The House members were determined to prove their loyalty to the words, if not the spirit of Francis Bellamy, the socialist-minister-turned-journalist who penned the “godless” version of the Pledge in 1892. Of course, they did it in full view of the television cameras, where reality is routinely distorted and shamelessness is rewarded 70 times seven.

Determined to keep the puny god of American civil religion alive and kicking, regardless of the cost to constitutional integrity, the politicians weighed in with tough talk about every American child’s right to spout the “godly” party line by rote.

To brains weighed down by excessive patriotism, any allusion to Chapter 18 of 1 Kings is going to seem wildly inappropriate. After all, we Americans are accustomed to thinking of ourselves as the New Jerusalem, the shining city on the hill of human history. We aren’t used to thinking of our politicians as despicable priests of Baal, though there’s never been any reason to think otherwise.

Still, Wednesday’s grandstanding on the steps of the Capitol resonates with an Old Testament passage about the confrontation between the prophet Elijah and 450 priests of Baal: “And it came about at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, ‘Call out with a loud voice, for he is a god; either he is occupied or gone aside, or is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and needs to be awakened.’

“So they cried with a loud voice and cut themselves according to their custom with swords and lances until the blood gushed out of them. And it came about when midday was past, that they raved until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice; but there was no voice, no one answered and no one paid attention.”

What kind of vapid, nondenominational god are politicians so hell-bent on restoring to the Pledge of Allegiance? Would any self-respecting deity allow itself to be patronized by such opportunistic poseurs? What kind of god do these politicians imagine the American people want to pledge their allegiance to, anyway?

Would they prefer that we pledge allegiance to a piece of cloth twisting in the wind, or to the ideas for which it stands? Oh, what little faith they have if they truly believe our freedoms would be compromised one iota by forgoing all patriotic superstitions.

What god do they want us to pledge allegiance to? The god on the back of our money? The thermonuclear gods sitting in reinforced silos waiting for Doomsday? A god that would prefer that we were all enslaved to a pledge that has little or nothing to do with the spiritual lives of 275 million potential adherents? Is this a god worth demolishing constitutional protections and guarantees for?

When Baal, the national god of the corrupt empires that surrounded Israel, failed to rain down fire from heaven at the behest of its 450 priests, Elijah called on his God: “Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.” Imagine that—a God who doesn’t need politicians for moral support!

As for the 450 priests of Baal, the chapter ends with them being seized and carried to the river. Because they were false prophets and deceivers of the people, they were unceremoniously executed by their former constituents.

I’m not suggesting that there should be any contemporary parallels, but it wouldn’t hurt for our more shameless leaders to remember the former price of idolatry while rushing to restore “under God” to a pledge most of them don’t take seriously anyway.

8 thoughts on “Is God so small he needs a Pledge for validation?

  1. Communism fears faithful people because that means that there is a part of them that the government does not own.  Even today, in China, people are publicly persecuted and abused because they were caught leading prayer groups.  Sometimes they are even sent to prison camps or killed.  “Under God” was added as a reaction to the communist threat of the Soviet Union.  It was a good addition to the pledge, and those who want it removed are endorsing an idea that communists would love.  To the communists, removal of that phrase from our pledge of allegiance would be welcome news because it would mean we just took America a step in their direction.

  2. Don’t hit me with that “Communist” bullshit argument. The pledge survived fine for years without Under God in it and I seriously doubt many Communists were quaking in their boots after the phrase was added in 1954. The Communist Soviet Union fell apart not because of religion, but because the system couldn’t make good on its promises of a utopian society.

    Please, try to come up with a better and more reasonable argument than that. Given how weak it was, I’m not at all surprised you decline to leave a name or email address.

  3. No you stupid fundy dumbass!  Christians fear the non-Christians because that is one part of the population that Christians cannot control.  You’re so faithless in God that you don’t want to associate your name with Him?  What, you don’t think he’ll back you up in the end?

    And how stupid are you to think taking God out is atheistic?  Is “My favorite color is blue” an atheist’s statement?  According to you it is, because anyone who doesn’t say “My favorite color is blue and God is great!” is automatically an evil atheistic communist.  Maybe you’re an evil communist atheist because you forgot to add “God is great” behind each one of you sentences.

  4. the 9th circuit court made the correct decision in declaring that “under god” in the pledge was un-constitutional.


    “under god” was added to the pledge by an act of congress making a law. a law respecting an establishment of religion. they violated the first admendment when the put the reference to the catholic (ie CHRISTIAN) god in there (it was a the knights of columbus, a catholic group, that pushed for “under god” to be add. look up the history of the pledge if you don’t believe me.)

    oh yeah, by the way fundy, communist doesn’t mean atheist. I consider myself a communist, and yet believe in a “supreme ‘being’” (I am a pantheist)

  5. The “Under God” in the pledge should stay because it has been in the Pledge of like ever so just keep and leave it alone!!!!!!! If we were to take God out of that then we would have to take God off of all are money and every thing and that just stupid and Wrong!!!! I am a teen who believes in God and that Under God should stay in the Pledge!!!! God Rules and nothing is going to change that..

  6. Crystal, You have as much to add to this debate as does a parrot. Do yourself a favor and do a little research before you go off regurgitating the same old talking points. Blah, blah, blah. :disbelief:

  7. Sad thing is, I bet she won’t come back. I’d love to ask her a couple of questions. No, I’m serious! Her point of view is tragically predictable yet fascinating all at the same time.

    Just in case she breezes back through (and isn’t a troll, which I might have a whiff of from the tv-teen-drama-speak)…

    Crystal, are you familiar with the concept of the seperation of church and state? Do you understand the entire country is not Christian, nor was it even founded that way?

    Do you know that the words “Under God” have not been in the Pledge “like forever”. It was added in the 50s, and the US is a good bit older than 50 years old. It’s been absent from the Pledge longer than it’s been in there. It wasn’t there to begin with, and the original was written by a Pastor. It was omitted on purpose.

    What if you, a believer in God (presumedly Christian) lived in another country, that professed religious freedom, but where the majority of the people were Muslim and wanted you to pledge “One Nation, Under Allah”? How would you feel?

    Do you think it’s OK to make anyone swear or pledge to things they don’t believe in or don’t agree with just because you think “God is like, really super” and they are just wrong?

    For the record, I also believe in a Higher Power. Call it God if you will. But I take offense to something so personal being cheapened by putting it where it doesn’t belong, in political affairs. It lessens the value of everyone’s individual beliefs to have any such mention in our Pledge.

    A belief in God is not, and should not. be a requirement for someone to pledge loyalty to their country. They are seperate issues.

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