Founders finally rest in peace
The temporary victory of an atheist to remove “under God” from the Pledge is more in line with what the U.S. Constitution intended.
When Michael Newdow won a temporary victory in his quest to see the words “under God” removed from our national Pledge of Allegiance, many Americans reacted with horror or apathy. Comments I heard included: “The founding fathers must be spinning in their graves"; “Our country was founded as a Christian nation under God"; “People who don’t believe in God should find another country"; “[Newdow] needs to get a hobby"; and “Who really cares?”
Statements like this make one wonder if those people have ever bothered to study the history of our founding fathers or even read our Constitution.
The most compelling evidence that the founding fathers did not intend for the United States to be a Christian republic, or any other theocracy for that matter, is the Constitution itself. The Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, was painstakingly conceived, authored and ratified by our founding fathers and does not contain a single mention of Christianity, God, a Creator or any supreme being. Surely if these sage men had a Christian theocracy in mind, they would have at least mentioned God in the most important document in American history. In fact, the First Amendment specifically forbids any establishment of a national religion. Some point out that the Declaration of Independence mentions “Nature’s God” and a “Creator,” but these are Deists’ terms—not Judeo-Christian ones. Also, the Declaration does not constitute the legal foundation of our country as does the Constitution.
Separation of church and state is not some new-age liberal catch phrase—it’s a quote by Thomas Jefferson. James Madison, the father of the Constitution, also strove for “perfect separation” and “the total separation of the Church from the State.” When some complained that the Constitution left out God and Jesus, George Washington responded, “We ought to ascribe the absence of any regulation respecting religion from [it].”
It’s not that the founders rejected the notion of God or a Creator, as even the non-Christians among them were freethinking Deists. It’s just that they recognized the importance of true religious freedom and diversity. As Jefferson said, “Religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person’s life, freedom of religion affects every individual. … Erecting the wall of separation between church and state, therefore, is essential in a free society.”
If the founding fathers are in fact “rolling over in their graves” as some say, then it’s because they have been spinning ever since the McCarthyism of the 1950s when “God” was added to our state-sanctioned Pledge and replaced our state-sanctioned national motto. It seems more likely that the founders would stand and applaud the court’s decision to reject this example of a patriotic oath corrupted into a national prayer.
Finally, for those that would ask why people devote so much time to what might be considered a minor issue, I would say that standing by the founding fathers to defend the Constitution is every American’s right and duty at all times and under all circumstances. Anything less would truly be unpatriotic.