The Supreme Court is deliberating over the phrase "under God" in the pledge of allegiance today. From what I’ve read and seen, the only person in the story with a proper understanding of religion is the atheist, Michael Newdow, who is suing to have the words removed. He argues that the words "under God" obviously refer to a deity and by reciting the pledge, schools are teaching kids that God exists. Newdow doesn’t believe that is true, and therefore doesn’t want his tax dollars paying for teachers to tell his daughter that her daddy is wrong. I have no problem with this line of thinking.
However, everyone else, from the judges to the people being interviewed on the street, seems to. They think Newdow is wrong to think that the pledge is actually referencing a single deity. They claim that the phrase "under God" means something other than it’s plain sense meaning. They say that it refers to a love of country or an ambiguous "life force" and, for all intents and purposes, "god" can be whatever you want it to be. Or, they say, the phrase doesn’t mean anything at all – nobody pays any attention to it anyway – and therefore it doesn’t matter if you leave it in the pledge.
This is a ridiculous approach to religion and to the issue of the pledge. Everyone with half a sense of history (and who hasn’t been sucked in by postmodernist thought) knows what the words are referring to – the Christian God of the Bible. And as such, there are only two real questions to answer in regards to this case:
1. Does this God exist and what is He like? – Obviously this is not an issue for the courts, but it is the ultimate issue in this case.
2. Should the government be in charge of educating our children? Newdow argues that the government should not be indoctrinating theism because some people in the democracy don’t believe it. Fair enough. But if they don’t indoctrinate theism, that means they indoctrinate atheism. After all, indoctrination – the teaching of what reality is all about – is what schools do. That is the nature of education. They have to teach some worldview. So who decides what the government teaches? Therein lies the problem. If you try to implement a single, state sponsored education system in a pluralistic country somebodies beliefs are to get trampled on because you can’t teach all worldviews at once. (To reiterate, choosing "no religion" as a school’s worldview, which is what Newdow wants, is to teach practical atheism, which is just as much a religion as the rest.) I think the solution is to privatize education. If Newdow doesn’t want theism taught, he should find or start an atheistic school. And for those who want theism, or Buddhism, or whatever ism, let them teach what they want. And then lets all meet once a week or so to discuss which ism is true. I know which one I’m betting on.