God Who?
by David Obuchowski (e-mail: DObuchowski@liberator.net) [November 17th, 2002]

A few months ago, the nation went into a temporary fervor over the coda of the Pledge of Allegiance. The words, “One nation under God” were debated, defended and blasted from legal and philosophical perspectives. And though larger issues have since taken the spotlight, this argument occasionally gets its head back above water, yells out, and gets everybody to come running.

“You see, the existing language [within The Pledge of Allegiance] supposes that we know who God is, or that there is only one God. ”

I’ve largely maintained only a mild interest in the “under God” debate. In fact, interest might even be too strong a word. I’ve regarded it as sort of entertainment. I’d give it a few minutes of my attention on the radio, listening with amusement to the boiling blood of everyone from the local minister to the congressman. But the minute I was invited to add my opinion, I usually declined.

I would use the excuse that it would be like trying to argue about the last number of infinity. You can just keep going, but you’re not really going to come to anything. But really, I think I was disinterested. I’d rather hear others clash than get my brain involved. After all, there were much more important things to think about. Like why my Alma Mater, the University of Illinois, abandoned me in the first half this year’s football season. And, could their basketball team maybe compensate, and make me proud again?

But just as the whole “under God” issue was slipping back under the radar, I was driving back from work and NPR had a little blurb about it. At that moment I noticed the Minivan in front of me. It had a 700 Club sticker on it. And it said “I proudly pledge allegiance to One Nation Under God.”

Now, the 700 Club really bothers me. For so many reasons. But rather than go off on that tempting tangent, I’ll stick to my thesis.

So, anyway, there’s this bumper sticker, and the voice on the radio. And for the first time, I actually started to dissect the issue. See? This is why traffic is such a problem. After months of ignoring the debate, I give in and start paying it mind. And now, like everyone, I am convinced that I am absolutely, totally right. And here is my brilliant assessment to the “under God” argument:

“One nation under God” is a flawed statement. It’s missing an article. Really, I think it should be “One nation under a God.” But then to be fair to the polytheists it should “One nation under a God and/or Gods.” And then to give the atheists their due, it should be “One nation under a God and/or Gods, or not.”

You see, the existing language supposes that we know who God is, or that there is only one God. That’s why there’s no article. You see, in the existing Pledge, “God” is a proper noun. So, then, let’s replace one proper noun with another. For this exercise, let’s replace “God” with “Fred.”

Because this nation was founded on the freedom of religion, we can’t give Fred a last name. I might think that our nation is a nation under Fred McMurray. You might think it’s a nation under Fred Flintstone. Someone else might not really care about Fred. So, you can see how just leaving it as, “one nation under Fred” isn’t accurate. It doesn’t properly represent all people of the nation. And for those that do believe in Fred, it still doesn’t really do the trick, because it might not be the right Fred.

So, what you end up having is people saying the same words with different meanings. And really, then, what’s the point of that? I mean, what’s the Pledge of Allegiance if I’m thinking McMurray, and you’re thinking Flintstone?

So, yeah, I don’t think our Pledge of Allegiance truly reflects the people of America. So, I do think it should be updated. But I don’t think Fred, or God, should be removed. Anyway, come on, this is America! The land of consumerism and frivolous lawsuits! We can’t even drink fast food coffee without being subjected to "This coffee is hot. Thus, it could burn you” labels. So, what if there are more footnotes and disclaimers? That’s what we’re all about!

So, children, please join me in our Pledge of Allegiance:

I pledge allegiance
To the flag
of the United States of America
And to the republic
for which it stands
One nation
Under a God, and/or Gods,
or none at all
With Liberty,
Ridiculous debates,
Contested elections,
Complete Partisanship,
and Justice,
though we are appealing,
For all.

Resources and Avenues for Further Study

  • CNN: Lawmakers Blast Pledge Ruling
  • Courier Times: State Senate Passes Bill Requiring Pledge of Allegiance in Schools
  • Google: Regional: North America: United States: Society and Culture: Politics: Issues: Pledge of Allegiance and News: Pledge of Allegiance

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