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White House: petitions – We the People (September 22, 2011)

Those who ignore history are, well….stupid (October 25, 207

The White House started an online petition process on September 22nd, with an initial staff review threshold of five thousand signatures for petitions submitted through the process. Several petitions have quickly reached that threshold, including one to legalize marijuana, one to abolish the TSA, and, as of this writing in third place (with over 9,000 signatures), one to remove “Under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance:

We Petition the Obama Administration to:

Edit the Pledge of Allegiance to remove the phrase “Under God”.

The Pledge of Allegiance is said every day in schools across America. It is a government sanctioned speech, and should remain neutral in matters of religion. In its current state, it supports the existence of God, which goes against several religions, and supports others. This bias should not be supported by the country according to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Created: Sep 22, 2011

Issues: Civil Rights and Liberties, Human Rights

In 1943, as described in WEST VIRGINIA STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION ET AL. v. BARNETTE ET AL., 319 U.S. 624, the text was:

…’I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of [319 U.S. 624, 629]  America and to the Republic for which it stands; one Nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’…

Note what is missing.

The pledge is not a founding document:

The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy (1855-1931). It was originally published in The Youth’s Companion on September 8, 1892. Bellamy had hoped that the pledge would be used by citizens in any country…

In 1954:

History of the Pledge of Allegiance:

….the Knights of Columbus mounted a campaign to add the words “under God” to the Pledge. The nation was suffering through the height of the cold war, and the McCarthy communist witch hunt. Partly in reaction to these factors, a reported 15 resolutions were initiated in Congress to change the pledge. They got nowhere until Rev. George Docherty (1911 – 2008) preached a sermon that was attended by President Eisenhower and the national press corps on 1954-FEB-7….

And, back to WEST VIRGINIA STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION ET AL. v. BARNETTE ET AL., 319 U.S. 624, no individual is under any compulsion to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in whole or in part:

….A person gets from a [319 U.S. 624, 633]  symbol the meaning he puts into it, and what is one man’s comfort and inspiration is another’s jest and scorn….

….Struggles to coerce uniformity of sentiment in support of some end thought essential to their time and country have been waged by many good as well as by evil men. Nationalism is a relatively recent phenomenon but at other times and places the ends have been racial or territorial security, support of a dynasty or regime, and particular plans for saving souls. As first and moderate methods to attain unity have failed, those bent on its accomplishment must resort to an ever-increasing severity….

….Those who begin coercive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating dissenters. Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard….

….If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us….

[emphasis added]

In a time of war, no less. In 1943.