A report at Opposing Views (and also many other places) describes a Fox News program in which participants discussed the Massachusetts court case about removing the words “under God” from the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance. (I’ve written about this case here.) Those words weren’t added to the Pledge until 1954, and were a response to the “godless” Russians during the Cold War.
On the show, Dana Perino, a Fox News commenter and former press secretary under George W. Bush, shamed herself by saying that those people who are urging the removal of “under God” should just live elsewhere if they didn’t like the words. In the Sixties we war protestors often heard similar words: “Love it or leave it,” i.e., if you don’t like U.S. policy, go elsewhere.
That, of course, is completely antithetical to democracy in America, where if you don’t like something, you can both vote against it and publicly protest it. The OV report notes:
Perino, a participant in the discussion, when asked how she felt about arguments that challenge religious references in government-sponsored ceremonies, said she was “tired of them.”
“Our representatives have spoken again and again, and if these people [really] don’t like it, they don’t have to live here,” said the onetime Bush mouthpiece.
“Yeah, that’s a good point,” responded the show’s host, Bob Beckel.
. . . Gutfeld pointed out that, though atheists are “a minority,” atheism “is not an extreme idea.” Another panelist, Kimberly Guilfoyle, former first lady of San Francisco, responded, “But why should they be catered to? Why are they so special?”
Listen for yourself:
Guilfoyle also notes that, through this lawsuit, atheists are trying to “Inflict their belief system on everybody else.” Well, atheism isn’t a belief system, and both Guilfoyle and Perino show a profound misunderstanding of the First Amendment—one that surely would have annoyed founders like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.
“If you don’t like it, you don’t have to listen”—Perino’s words—could be used to justify all sorts of religious incursions into public schools, including daily prayer, which is illegal.
The point is that public schools shouldn’t be forcing students to even listen to religious views. Such schools, as an arm of the U.S. government, should be religiously neutral, and such neutrality doesn’t inflict anything on anybody. Christians are just butthurt because they want to pray everywhere and inject God into everything. I wonder how Doyle and Guilfoyle would feel if “under God” were changed to “under Allah” or “under Vishnu”.
There’s also some discussion in the show about whether the words “In God We Trust” should continue to appear on U.S. currency. That seems to have become a laughable issue—of course they should remain, everyone says, for they’ve been on the bills for years. But those words should be removed as well, for they’re another religious incursion into the government, and every time an atheist uses paper currency, she is passing those words along with the buck. In fact, those words have appeared on U.S. bills only since 1957. (At their annual meeting, the Freedom from Religion foundations raffles off “clean money”: pre-1957 dollar bills.)
Somehow the use of the word “God,” if it persists for a long time, is construed as having assumed overtones of secularism. That’s ludicrous. Custom doesn’t stale the illegality of government-sponsored religion, and any words denoting or approving of the supernatural should be ruthlessly expunged from the government.
That, of course, won’t happen, and I expect the Massachusetts Supreme Court will keep “under God” in the Pledge. If they do, I’ll be curious to see the tortuous legal arguments they use to justify that decision.