McMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)–The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America was deemed unconstitutional on June 26, in part because the court sided with the plaintiff, an atheist, who asserted, “his daughter is injured” when she is exposed to its recitation.
Judge Alfred T. Goodwin and Stephen Reinhardt of the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco, concurred with Michael Newdow’s argument that the Pledge should be banned from public school. Judge Ferdinand F. Fernandez disagreed with his fellow jurists and offered a Partial Concurrence and Partial Dissent.
In the majority opinion, Judge Goodwin observed, “Newdow does not allege that his daughter’s teacher or school district requires his daughter to participate in reciting the Pledge. Rather, he claims that his daughter is injured when she is compelled to ‘watch and listen as her state-employed teacher in her state-run school leads her classmates in a ritual proclaiming that there is a God, and that our’s [sic] is ‘one nation under God.'”
Newdow argued, and the judges agreed — at least in part — that his daughter was “injured” by having to listen to the pledge. The phrase “under God” was seen as infringing upon his atheism. There are countless parents in the United States who can relate to Newdow’s feelings.
There are numerous parents who believe their children will be injured by public school systems that introduce homosexual unions in kindergarten. Yet, these state-run institutions seek to indoctrinate children that these unions are natural, normal, and healthy, despite the parents’ objections.
There are scores of parents who disagree with the doctrines of evolution that are spoon fed their kids at every level of science education in public schools across the country. Many feel the tenets of Darwin’s theory injure their children by contradicting their theological belief in creation.
Many more parents are alarmed at the so-called safe-sex instruction their kids are subjected to by state-run schools. They believe it is injurious to tell kids that by simply utilizing a condom they will be safe and secure from any consequences that might occur from engaging in unmarried sex. This education absolutely ignores a report released in the summer of 2001 by the Centers for Disease Control that reveals condoms are only 85 percent effective, at best, in preventing the spread of sexually transmitted disease and that is only if they are used correctly and consistently.
I know many parents who are upset by all of the above, yet when they voice their concerns they are told that their only recourse is to opt their kids out of specific programs. Many have done just that, and many more have opted out of the public school system altogether. The numbers of families enrolling in private schools or electing to home school continue to swell.
Perhaps someone should have suggested to Newdow that his daughter could have slapped a Walkman on her head and listened to some heavy metal or rap instead of The Pledge. Perhaps she could have gone to the library for the few minutes given to The Pledge. However, that would not have satisfied someone like Newdow.
Michael Newdow is an atheist activist cut from the same cloth of Madelyn Murray-O’Hair. He brought a lawsuit of the same nature in Florida in 1998. The judge in that case dismissed the suit because at the time Newdow’s daughter was not yet enrolled in school. He also maintains a website that details the nature of his activism (www.restorethepledge.com).
The most recent ruling by the 9th Circuit Court is not about the unconstitutionality of the phrase “under God,” it is about a very tiny minority in America that hate religion in particular and Christianity in specific. It is their desire by way of judicial activism to force upon the majority the theological belief that there is no God.
If indeed, hearing the words “under God” is injurious to a child, and this ruling is upheld, then I would hope a flood of lawsuits will be filed on behalf of children who are being injured by exposure to homosexuality, evolution, and safe-sex programs.
Boggs, whose column appears in Baptist Press each week, is pastor of Valley Baptist Church, McMinnville, Ore.