“Under God” Suits In MA, NJ

Public schools are, it seems, now alleging that pledging
Allegiance to flags, and to gods, is the rule;
“Under God” makes the word “indivisible” risible—
Laughable, really, for kids in their school—
Of course there are children abstaining, explaining
Their worldview prevents them from going along;
They’d say “under god”, but it’s blather; they’d rather
Say nothing at all, than to say something wrong

These kids will all face brutal mocking—it’s shocking,
That good Christian children would treat them this way
But kids know, the way to defeat them, is beat them
Till, bleeding and bruised, they have learned to obey
The truth is, the pledge that they’re saying is praying—
It separates children, by form of belief…
Just read Seuss’s tale of the Sneetches, which teaches
That such segregation leads surely to grief.

The latest lawsuit is in New Jersey.

I’ve already seen comments on some sites asking if, should the atheists win, they will accept the settlement money that all says “in god we trust” on it. Ceremonial deism, my ass; the judges ought to read the comments sections sometime (protip: never read the comments section!), to see just how often that phrase on our money is used to “other” us. The purpose of the phrase is not to recognize a god; it’s to recognize a class of others to call second-class citizens.

The pledge and the motto are trivial things to a judge, but are markers of cultural privilege to the poor put-upon martyred 80% majority in this country and don’t you ever forget it, majority rules we are a christian nation commenters on the internet.


  1. Linda Grilli Calhoun says

    I’m going to say this again: I’ll stop using money when they stop using modern medicine. L

  2. says

    I don’t see the big deal with the coin thing.

    Nowadays I hardly ever use money (bendable* or not).

    And none of my cards say “In Chase we Trust”†
    * bendable for Clark Kent that is.
    † which is good, because I’m sure no one does.

  3. Cuttlefish says

    The coin thing shouldn’t be a big deal–hell, the Supreme Court said it wasn’t a big deal–except that every time there is an atheist involved in a first amendment lawsuit of any sort, a bunch of yahoos (included local and state level elected yahoos) throw the motto on coins at us as evidence that this is a Christian nation.

    It’s not the words themselves. It’s never the words themselves. It’s how they are used. And the way they are used is to establish that atheists are second-class citizens. It’s a Christian country (look, even the money says so!); you just get to live here, if we allow it.

  4. Randomfactor says

    It’s amazing how every time the lawyers use “ceremonial deism” as a defense in these cases, the yahoos go out of their way to prove they’re lying and IGWT means EXACTLY “suck it, atheists.”

  5. otrame says

    Here in Texas twenty years ago, when a substitute teacher noticed my son (13 at the time) was not actually saying the pledge (though he stood with the class and did not make a big deal out of it), she asked him why. He said that, first, he wasn’t going to pledge alliegence to a piece of cloth and second, he was an atheist and didn’t believe in the “under god” part. She threw a wobbler and at the end yelled, “Why don’t you move to Russia?”. When he answered, “In Russia they would MAKE me say it, but here we have freedom” she sent him to the Principal’s office.

    The principal was not an idiot. He called me, told me what happened, said that witnesses said my son was respectful and quiet during the whole thing. He promised the teacher would have a few things explained to her, SCOTUS rulings and such, and there would not be another such incident.

    So, you see, it is possible, even in Texas, for people to behave sensibly in these matters.

  6. Uncle Ebeneezer says

    We are always told that “In God We Trust” is no big deal. It’s not meant to marginalize anyone. Ok, then how about we switch it to “In Allah We Trust?” Something tells me a whole lot of the defenders of the current wording on our currencies wouldn’t be too supportive of that idea.

    Likewise- if the words “Under God” don’t effectively marginalize an already marginalized minority then I’m sure changing the phrase to: “One White Nation” or “One Straight Nation” etc., would be equally harmless, no? After all if the common justification is “well MOST Americans DO believe in God” then any other wording representative of a majority attribute of Americans should be equally justified.

    It’s pretty obvious based on the history of when these words were added that the purpose was precisely to make an official endorsement of belief and an implied stigma on non-belief. The whole point was to claim US moral superiority to those godless Soviets (with the marginalization of American non-believers being acceptable collateral damage.) It was always about other-ing, and it still is. What always strikes me as odd is how many people I know who would rightfully take issue with official verbiage that marginalized any other minority, but merely hand-wave away the marginalization of non-believers as First World Problems, or even suggest that atheists deserve it because Richard Dawkins is Militant etc.

  7. Mary L says

    The older I get, the more the “Pledge of Allegiance” feels like a loyalty oath. I refuse to say the two added words.

  8. Cuttlefish says

    At Cuttleson’s high school graduation, there was (of course) a recitation of the pledge. In the official video of the ceremony, the camera pans past Cuttleson (cos he was a class officer and up there at the front) exactly at the crucial moment in the pledge; the only person you can see is one who is *not* saying “under god”. I know for a fact he was not the only one, but he was the only one on film. Or digits, or whatever it is these days.

    I was so proud.

  9. dmgregory says

    Linda @1

    I’m going to say this again: I’ll stop using money when they stop using modern medicine.

    Careful, there. A truly distressing number of them are taking you up on that. :(

    Also, otrame @5: I have so much respect for your son, his principal, and your (and your partner’s?) parenting skills. It’s not easy to deal with that kind of confrontation so responsibly. Well done, to all of you. :)

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