Pledge of Allegiance Blues  

Thursday, August 07, 2008

I just finished watching the Pledge of Allegiance Blues, an independent film by Lisa Seidenberg. The film is a documentary covering the Michael Newdow's pledge case and also a little about the Alabama ten commandments case.

Do I think this film was impartial and unbiased? No, I don't. But, that's OK. I believe that it's a good thing to preach to the choir. Sometimes the choir needs to hear the information as much as the general public. And I do feel like the film covered many important issues.

I do feel like the "under God" phrase in the pledge is unconstitutional. I agree that "God" is a general term that may apply to many religions, but I think when it was added it was added to refer to a specific god. To believe otherwise is naive. My biggest objection is the same objection I have to religion in politics. It becomes a de facto religious test. When a religious phrase is added to a state-sponsored pledge or state-generated money or in any other kind of oath or any other kind of state act, then it becomes a religious test. When someone who doesn't believe in a god is faced with choosing between belief and country, then they're going to viewed as unpatriotic. But refusing to swear an oath to God has nothing to do with the state and should not reflect on the patriotism of a person. In the same sense religionists are putting God ahead of country (something I agree they have the right to do) and yet, they're considered more patriotic than someone who would put country ahead of God (as atheists will certainly put a material concept ahead of an imaginary one).

One thing that stood out in all of the footage of people protesting was their deep, emotional, religious experiences. This is the type of religion I grew up in. Praise and worship was singing, dancing, and raising my hands to God. It was a euphoric experience. Under those conditions, to believe your religion is not real, it'd take believing yourself a fool. These people are not going to change their minds due to reasoned arguments. They're going to have to have a connection outside of their religious experience to ever believe it's not real.

(Of course I always felt foolish, but I was encouraged to be a fool for Jesus.)

Other than the sound quality of the film, which I found to be horrible, I would recommend this film. If you can overlook the filmmaker playing up to a specific point, there are many worthwhile scenes. I found the footage with Alan Dershowitz to be particularly well-reasoned.

Evo also has a review of this movie on his blog, Evolutionary Middleman.

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4 comments: to “ Pledge of Allegiance Blues

  • Anonymous
    Thursday, August 7, 2008 at 9:06:00 AM CDT  

    The Concept of religion has been fudged a lot from the original documentation and no one knows or can prove it. Hinduism is one such religion which was originally based on Upanishads, a high form of documentation which preaches Way of life/Morality than a God. In fact, I heard from one of my school teachers that the original form of the book was projecting an Atheist view. It later got fudged/modified and the true meaning of God, divinity and religion is lost. Only a few know it vaguely, and I can say I know nothing at all.

  • Ordinary Girl
    Friday, August 8, 2008 at 8:41:00 AM CDT  

    Maduraiveeran : Thanks for the insight. I thin you're right and although religious leaders would claim differently, religions have changed over time. It's pretty interesting theory though that a secular philosophy was turned into a religion. I never even considered that premise and yet, it makes sense.

  • Anonymous
    Sunday, August 10, 2008 at 6:52:00 AM CDT  

    I already left a comment on this very same issue on questioneverything’s blog (no doubt his post was inspired by yours) so I will just copy and paste it here. Great blog BTW.

    This is an issue that really infuriates me. The idea that communist paranoia in the ‘50’s allowed a religious lunatic to warp our basic American ideals is truly nauseating. Those who allowed it to happen should be ashamed. My main problem with the utterly un-American insertion of the phrase “under God” into our pledge and the phrase “In God We Trust” emblazoned onto our currency concerns the impact on those who immigrate to our country, a country that is supposed to welcome them. One of the first and most symbolic things these people are required to do to become a citizen is stand up, place their hand on their heart, face our flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. They are literally pledging their loyalty to our (their new) country. But ever since that awful day in 1954, everyone who comes to our country is forced to also pledge allegiance to “our” Christian God. It doesn’t matter if the person is a Hindu, a Muslim, Atheist, whatever, they are forced to pledge their allegiance to the supposed god of America. Just thinking about how many times this has happened since 1954 sets my blood to boiling. How have we let this stand for over fifty years? Why is this such a contentious issue for a politician to bring up? It goes against everything America is supposed to stand for. It truly saddens me to think, that in my lifetime, I probably won’t see this travesty rectified. Just as I will never see a person elected President who doesn’t ally himself with the Christian faith. Shameful how this country has failed itself.

    Ordinary Girl, after reviewing a few of your other posts I thought you might be interested in an article I wrote for the guys at (under the pseudonym Thomas Keane). I’ve written a few for them and will be submitting this one in the next month but I already posted it on my site if you want to read it. Here is the link:

    Glad I found your site.



  • Vistaluna
    Thursday, August 14, 2008 at 11:45:00 AM CDT  

    I think the whole concept of the pledge is ridiculous, because they make school kids say it, and school kids won't understand what it means and aren't mature and responsible enough to truly pledge anything of the sort.

    From first grade until about 8th, I had no idea what I was really even saying. It was something like "I play the legions, true the flag or United States of America..."

    I was like one of those post-apocalyptic movies where the creepy little kids are worshiping a half-understood remnant of the previous civilization, and they are mispronouncing phrases and not understanding the meaning of what they have.

    Honestly that's the kind of pledge you can't be responsible for until you are an adult. And by the time you are an adult, you no longer have to say it!! It's crazy!

    It's an attempt at nationalistic brainwashing, pure and simple. If you make the kids say it enough times, they will believe it.

    I guess if you are going to knowingly attempt to brainwash kids, then adding "under God" makes sense. (But it doesn't make it right).


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