Sunday, August 10, 2014

God and the Pledge of Allegiance: It's Time for Separation

In response to a lawsuit filed by a New Jersey family against its school district claiming that the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance containing the phrase "under God" discriminates against atheists, the NJ Star-Ledger editorialized recently that 'Under God' doesn't belong in the Pledge of Allegiance.

In the comments, a correspondent, givemeliberty wrote in support of "Under God" on 4/24/14:

    The people seeking to stamp any mention of God out of public life remind me of the anti-vaccination crowd. You can get away with not vaccinating your child because most of the population has been vaccinated, which forms a firewall against mass contagion. The people who don’t believe in God get to live among people who do. If there is no God, there is absolutely no reason not to lie, cheat, steal, murder etc. so long as you are smart enough not to get caught.
    Yes, enormous evil has been done in the name of religion, but that is because of the human spin put on God’s laws. Churches are in the world, but must not be of the world. . . . I do not dispute that evil has been done in God’s name, only that the evil is owned by man, not God.

I left this reply:

"If there is no God, there is absolutely no reason not to lie, cheat, steal, murder etc."

Your argument translates into: "There is no rational reason that people shouldn't lie, cheat, steal, and murder." 

This is absurd on its face. There are plenty of rational, fact-based reasons to want to live peacefully and honorably among one's fellow man. Religion gives you nothing but "God said"; an arbitrary set of out-of-context commandments based on the logical fallacy of Appeal to Authority.

And that is precisely why religion should be kept strictly separate from political power. It is inherently authoritarian. You can rationalize away all of the horrors committed by religionists. But you can not erase the fact that when someone says "It's so because it's God's Law," what he is really saying is "It's so because I said so"—debate over. It is not in spite of, but because of, a belief in God that religion is one of the most deadly set of ideas in human history, second only to Marxism.

Any society governed by laws based on what anybody who claims to speak for God says they should be is a totalitarian theocracy. Godless (i.e., objective) laws are precisely what the Founders had in mind when they established "a government of laws and not of men." They believed whim had no place in society's laws, which led them to the doctrine of separation of church and state. Any breach in that doctrine is a step onto the "slippery slope." The reason why people who don’t believe in God get to live peacefully among people who do is precisely because people who do believe in God don't get to legally impose their version of "God's Law" on everyone else.

The legislative insertion of "under God" in the pledge is a sanction of religion by the state, an example of religious authoritarianism, and should be removed.

Anyone interested in what a rational, scientific, pro-life, live-and-let-live morality looks like should study Ayn Rand's ethics, called rational self-interest (See links below). As Jaana Woiceshyn notes in The Virtue of Rational Self-Interest at Capitalism Magazine, Rand's ethics, called rational egoism, is built "on the foundation established by Aristotle." 

Unlike religion's dogmatic, commandment-based ethics, Rand's morality is rooted in the observable facts of reality and human nature. Unlike religious dogma, Rand's ethical theory is open for reasonable, objective debate.

As to the Pledge, anyone is free to say it any way they wish. But Congress shouldn't legislate the content, and schools shouldn't require it, especially with "under God" in it.

Loving Life: The Morality of Self-Interest and the Facts that Support It—Craig Biddle

1 comment:

Mike Kevitt said...

Let's drop the under god crud, but then it might be good to add,'under law'. I don't know about anybody else, but MY definition of law makes that fitting.