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.