Why is secularism a political issue in America?
Because, quite simply, it motivates people to the polls.
As shown in the case where Kay Hagan attended a fund raiser for the Secular Coalition of America. She is the Democrat rival to Senator Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina who has tried to make political capital out of it. For example this video from the Republican Party:
Followed by a leaflet campaign which you can see here which denotes that Christmas will be banned in the atheist republic that Hagan will help found. The extent to which the religious right funds and controls the Republican Party is one that makes my mouth drop. Notice though it says more about the Godless Americans PAC then it does about Hagan. You can kind of see where the thinking for Ayers and Obama comes from.
Which brings to mind that the only time Christmas was banned by Parliament was under Cromwell. Parliament actually sat on Christmas Day to prove the point. Not that you would have mince pies – they were banned because they were considered catholic. Christmas banned by Puritan Christians.
It does smack of desperation – Dole has gone from a comfortable double digit lead to Hagen now having a 4% lead. Two words: George Bush, and two numbers: 92 and 93:
Just remember if all else fails when you are loosing, use a dog:
The irony is that the first pledge of allegiance was written by a baptist minister in 1892 which had no mention of under God. In 1942 the pledge was used in the US Flag Code by Congress – but it was not till 1954 that Congress added “under God”.
It originally read: I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. The under God bit is probably seen as refining the character of a Christian socialist’s work. Francis J. Bellamy using the pledge in schools as as precursor to what the Nazis did with their pledge.
The “under God” happened at the urging of the catholic organisation The Knights of Columbus, which still in 2008 defends that addition on the grounds that:
The words “under God” give voice to a principle of American government that has been understood to be an essential part of our system since its founding, namely, that the fundamental rights guaranteed by our Constitution are “endowed by our Creator,” and are not the state’s to give or to take away, but only to preserve and to protect [source, which is worth reading in full]
Simply put this is a breech of the constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Not establishing a religion means that the law cannot impose upon people to make a distinction by professing a belief or disbelief in any religion. Even if we have two different pledges the law is still asking people to take an oath that establishes religion. That goes against the First Amendment [source]
From a philosophical point of view the rights of the populace do not come from a human body nor do they come from an abstract entity with the power of creation. Rather they come from the principles that grant freedom and autonomy to the minds of people to be sincere and true to themselves and their beliefs without fear of persecution nor to profess them by legal compulsion. The state has no authority to ask me to believe in the Trinity, nor does it have any power to make me issue a statement supporting a belief in a God.
There is no freedom if you cannot be tolerated to have autonomy of belief. For that alone Republicans should feel appalled by that first advert. Freedom of religion does mean the right to reject religion and to say it is false. To object to religion being sanctioned by government, in respect of the First Amendment, can be argued about politically – there is a constitutional basis for the secularist point of view.
I am reminded of the mass in The West Wing when President Bartlet says on the seperation of government and state sometimes you have to say “big deal”. Yet I wonder what would have happened if a Presdential Candidate said the pledge without “under God”. It would definetly be a big deal.