Since I find this topic somewhat interesting and it is becoming a thing again, I don't see why not write on it.
Recently, it seems there is a family going against a school system for the unconstitutionality of the phrase 'under God' in the pledge. Of course there are people saying it's a matter of choice for a child to say it or not (it really isn't) and that taking God out of schools and the public is causing more murders and blah blah blah. At least the latter is something I gained from scrolling through comments I saw when I happened to see this on Facebook, the news site doesn't have comments as far as I could tell. But, see, I did a paper on this recently for my government class and my English, as well, since I was lazy and figured why not just reuse this with some edits since one was persuasive, the other informative.
I will make this perfectly clear; I believe the phrase in every which way, whether it be in the pledge or on currency, is in fact against the United States constitution's idea of separating church and state. For those of you who don't know, the phrase was only added in the 50's to make a 'statement' against the 'atheist communists' of Russia during the Cold War. I don't remember the exact quote, but that was stated at one point. It was also meant to show that America is religious, which is a blatant statement of mixing church and state. I'm not saying mixing church and state doesn't happen in other ways than the pledge, again I point out American dollars and coins, but this is a bit more of an issue considering that children, from five years and up, repeat this daily as they must by law.
Yes, it is optional in theory, but in theory only. When I was a freshman in high school, I decided to not stand or speak during the pledge as my religious views were currently in flux and as well I was already starting to plan to move out of the United States once I am able. In middle school, I started only standing and being silent. But...I never could really sit during the pledge. Why? My teachers would point me out and tell me I had to stand. Because I felt so embarrassed, I didn't argue back, only stood. And when I would tell my mother about how I don't like standing for the pledge for a variety of reasons, she'd say I was being disrespectful. To me being disrespectful is...say you go to a middle eastern country, are a woman, and it's normal for women there to cover their hair, not doing so would count as disrespectful to me; not pledging to a flag doesn't seem to fit. Now, stomping on a flag, that is disrespectful. To be perfectly honest, I don't see how pledging to a piece of mass produced cloth means anything, but that's just me. I know, symbolism and all that, but...I just don't feel any sense of patriotism by pledging anything to a flag. But my real issue is the fact that I don't believe in the Christian god, as do many other Americans who don't fit this seeming norm. I just don't, and I don't want to be under Him. No thank you. I've got my blob of energy or my unnamed god and goddess.
So, in practice the pledge is not optional thanks to societal pressures. People fail to see this. As well, one time the pledge was counted as unconstitutional, as found in the Newdow case, but that ruling was overturned because the child who the case was centered around was 'not in her father's custody', her father having been the one who made the complaint and was arguing the case. So. We have this very legal ruling overturned on a technicality? And people ignore this fact? They also ignore why the phrase was originally placed in the pledge? If I could find this information out with just a few keystrokes, I'm pretty sure anyone else could, too, if they took the time.
It just bothers me that people think these cases are stupid and by people who are just being difficult. Sure, the people may just be wanting to stir up trouble, but they are not unjustified. The phrase, in any governmental use, is unconstitutional. The only reason the Supreme Court won't do a thing is because they don't want to become unpopular as they are there for life or on 'good behavior'; so basically until they die or retire or really screw up. It's silly, really. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with blending church and state, Shari'a (I hope that's the right spelling) law does it in the middle east, but when you have a country that sates in it's very framing that it shouldn't happen? Then, yes, I have a problem with it. Especially when we feel a need to tiptoe around things and open things for all religions because we have to give religious equality, but we do sneaky things like this that puts Christianity at the top of the tier. You can't have it both ways.
I don't like the phrase in there, and not just because of it's unconstitutionality, but because of how it is mandated by law that it is recited. By children. Young, impressionable minds who might be Muslim, or who have atheist parents, are having to recite this over and over and maybe feel a sense of inferiority because they aren't part of the 'government approved' religion. They might feel that their religion isn't as valid because it is not in the pledge. Now, people might argue that Muslims and Jews believe in a monotheistic god as well, but they use a different name. Allah, Yahweh, not God. And, yes, the written pledge has god with a capital 'g', so therefore it can't be thought of as just 'any' deity.
If the pledge was really optional, then, sure, I'd be not minding so much and I'm sure other groups wouldn't mind either, but with how society reacts if you don't stand, if you don't speak... It takes a strong person to not care. And, to be honest, if it wasn't for the fact that my mom cared about me at least standing, then I probably would have told the teachers to shove it in as nice a way as possible...which basically means arguing my point that it is optional, and that I'm not being disrespectful, I'm just honoring my own viewpoint. But that probably would have seen me as suspended, in school or out of school, so... The only plus for me is that I have open minded friends, Christian branched mind you, but they have always accepted my views and do understand, even if they don't always agree. So my friends were never a pressure for this is sort of thing.
For now, though, I'll hush. I just had to get this out there since there is a new case and, while I highly doubt it'll go anywhere thanks to Christianity being so involved with the government (even if only off the books) and with how much of an uproar the citizens will cause thanks to ignorance and blindly following their faith without thinking of 'hey, maybe they're right that's it does not follow the law'. But those are my thoughts, as unpopular as they may be.