There are two ways to look at the decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upholding its ruling last June in which it declared the Pledge of Allegiance clause "One nation, under God " violates the constitutional prohibition against government established religion.
One way is for politicians of both parties to demagogue the ruling for votes. Many of them don't pay much attention to God when it comes to the great moral issues of the day, but they find Him a convenient tool to persuade people they are doing His will in Washington.
Yes, the unelected and still mostly liberal federal judges continue their four-decades-old nasty habit of dismantling our institutions, symbols and beliefs for the sake of a microscopic minority. The courts demand that every religious person must accommodate a single atheist who might be "offended " at the favorable mention of God's name (unfavorable or blasphemous mentions, we are told, are protected by the same First Amendment that prohibits favorable mentions). But no atheist can be forced to accommodate a single religious person who might be offended by the atheist's unbelief, or who wants to be part of the pluralism and diversity about which liberals regularly speak, but which is not broad enough to embrace people who believe in God.
Why do people who believe in and teach their children about God at home and in church put them in government schools that often undermine those beliefs? If parents would not put their children in a religious environment that does not reflect their faith, why do they send them into a school system in which faith and secularism so often collide, often to the detriment of faith?
The second way to look at the court decision is to ask where is the evidence that this nation is truly "under God "? If there is little evidence, then perhaps the late Justice William Brennan was right when he observed that such expressions of divine fealty are merely "ceremonial deism. " They might make some people feel good about the country, but are they objectively true?
What kind of nation that is "under God " would abort 40 million of its own children? Turn on the television at almost any hour - from daytime soap operas and shows that glorify the lurid and the wicked, to prime-time programs full of sexual situations, crude jokes and four-letter words - and ask yourself if this is reflective of a nation "under God. " Are rampant pornography and child abuse an indication of God's influence on America?
What about the poor? The same Scriptures some conservatives selectively quote, or misquote, in pursuit of various agendas (against homosexual practice and abortion, for example) are ignored by many of them when those Scriptures speak of other things. God expects the "godly " to take care of the poor as a means of sharing His love with them. Now we are told the government should be doing this through the Orwellian-named "faith-based initiative. " What faith?
What about family breakups? The divorce rate remains high and so do the number of unmarried people cohabiting and the number of babies born outside marriage. Younger kids are having sex and stories about oral sex on school buses and in school hallways compete for our attention along with the provocative clothing parents buy for their pre-teen daughters.
The magazine racks at supermarket checkout lines are consumed with stories about sex. Are such things reflective of a nation that is "under God "? America has a record number of people in prison. Are large numbers of lawbreakers indicative of a people who obey the great Law Giver?
The 9th Circuit's latest ruling takes effect in nine Western states on March 10. Attorney General John Ashcroft has pledged to appeal to the Supreme Court, which is good. The high court should decide to allow the pledge to be recited as is.
Psalm 33:12 says, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. " Is God the "Lord " of the United States? Do we act like it? Should our government formally say so if it isn't true? Saying so will not make it true. Only a change in behavior and focus will.