"There are none so blind as those who will not see". - Thomas Chalkley, 1713
'Pledge' Battle Is Assault on 'First Liberty,' Author Says
By Randy Hall
CNSNews.com Staff Writer/Editor
September 06, 2007
(CNSNews.com) - Attempts to remove the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance are part of an effort to undermine the religious freedom established in the United States by its founders, the author of a new book on the controversy told an audience in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.
"Religious freedom was important to the founders, because they did indeed believe it was the first liberty, and without it, no freedom, no liberty could exist at all," said William J. Murray, president of the Religious Freedom Coalition and author of "The Pledge: One Nation Under God." He gave a speech at conservative Heritage Foundation.
"In 1955, when we put 'under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance, it was with the understanding of what we faced in the Cold War," said Murray.
"Godless nations, officially atheist nations, in the 20th century murdered more of their own citizens than people who died in all the wars in all the history of mankind."
As a result, the U.S. "chose to say that 'we are not like them, we are not godless, we hold to a higher standard, and we will obey God,'" he said.
"We have religious freedom in our country because of our Christianity, not in spite of it."
During the past 230 years, the enemies of America have been those nations devoid of religious freedom, he said, adding that this country's "first two wars were fought against England, where religious dissent was repressed."
America then fought Islamic pirates in the Barbary Coast. Nazi Germany did not have religious freedom, said Murray, and Japan "was a near-theocracy."
"In Vietnam and Korea, we fought those who killed Christians for sport, and during the Cold War, we faced nuclear annihilation at the hands of a godless dictatorship in the Soviet Union whose goal was to eradicate all religion," Murray said.
Today, atheist leaders in China and North Korea have nuclear weapons, "and the mullahs who rule Iran are no less fascists than Hitler's Nazis," said Murray.
"The resistance to freedom in Iran and the willingness of men to die as suicide bombers from Baghdad to London illustrates the desperation of those who oppose religious freedom," the author continued.
"If religious freedom is successfully planted in Afghanistan and Iraq, the fascist mullahs of Iran, the corrupt dictator of Syria, and the perverted monarchs of Saudi Arabia will join Hitler, Stalin and Mao in the dustbin of history," he said.
'Supposed new rights'
Murray also spoke of an "internal threat to our religious freedom" in which "the religious symbols of our heritage are being stripped from public view, and the courts have tried to suppress our freedom of religious speech."
He then asked: "How can we send good men and women to die in Afghanistan and Iraq in an attempt to establish something that our courts in the United States are so willing to remove?"
The courts are creating new rights, such as "the right" of a person not to be offended by another person, and that is the basis of the current debate over the Pledge of Allegiance, Murray said.
Atheist activist Michael Newdow said that his daughter was "offended by the use of the words 'under God,' so the core of the argument was that she was offended, and the separation of church and state would stop her from being further offended," Murray explained before dismissing atheism as "a big-selling fad."
However, Ellen Johnson, president of the group American Atheists, told Cybercast News Service on Wednesday that Murray's views are "the typical opinion of a Christian believer. There's nothing new under the sun here."
As for religious freedom being the Founders' "first liberty," Johnson said she did her master's thesis on the religious philosophy of Thomas Jefferson, and "I've never heard of that before."
Regarding the addition of the words "under God" to the Pledge, Johnson said that "even if a billion people were slaughtered in the name of atheism, it wouldn't justify turning our national motto into a Christian one."
"Nothing can justify that," she said, because "our government isn't supposed to make a statement one way or the other on beliefs in the supernatural."
Nevertheless, Murray stressed that "the historical record is clear: From the beginning of this nation, civil leaders and pastors alike believed America was founded 'under God' and that our nation had a special calling from God to fulfill history."
"If we do surrender and accept that government is the new god and that the legislators and judges are the new high priests, it is not just America that will lose that first and most precious right of freedom of religion, it will be all of humanity," Murray added.
In an unusual twist of fate, William J. Murray, the former president of American Atheists and the son of atheist leader Madalyn Murray O'Hair, has done a 180 degree turn on the subject.
Murray was used by his mother as the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case which removed prayer from the public schools of the United States.
In 1963, the Supreme Court banned prayer from the public school because of a lawsuit brought by Murray's mother, Madalyn Murray O'Hair. In 1980, Murray renounced his atheist and Marxist background and announced he had become a Christian.
-More, a lot more on that here.
Meanwhile, in Texas...
Federal court upholds ‘One state under God’ in Texas
DALLAS — Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today prevailed in federal court, where a North Texas couple tried to prevent schoolchildren from reciting the Texas Pledge of Allegiance. A federal district judge ruled against David Wallace Croft and his wife, Shannon, who sought a preliminary injunction because the Texas Legislature recently added the words “one state under God” to the state Pledge. Solicitor General Ted Cruz argued on the state’s behalf.
“With today’s ruling, a federal judge denied the plaintiffs’ attempt to prevent Texas schoolchildren from pledging their allegiance to ‘one state under God’ - just as they pledge to ‘one nation under God,’” Attorney General Abbott said. “The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly held patriotic acknowledgments of the Almighty such as these are completely consistent with the U.S. Constitution. Texans can rest assured that we will continue vigorously defending their children’s ability to recite the state Pledge of Allegiance each morning.”
The plaintiffs, both professed atheists, filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. Their children are students in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District.
The voluntary, teacher-led recitation of the Texas Pledge typically follows the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance in classrooms across the state. According to the state’s brief, the Legislature added the words “one state under God” to acknowledge the tradition and religious heritage inherent in America’s founding.
The state contends the Texas Pledge is an acknowledgment of patriotism and citizenship. It is a practice that mirrors the Declaration of Independence’s self-evident truths that citizens are “endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The Attorney General’s brief argues that, instead of conflicting with the First Amendment, the Pledge reflects the constitutionally protected freedom of religion.
I guess in Texas nobody told them that: "our government isn't supposed to make a statement one way or the other on beliefs in the supernatural."
Guess nobody told the Father of our Country, George Washington, either: "It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible."
Let's see...who are we to believe? George Washington, and our founding fathers on the one hand, or a woman who "did her master's thesis on Thomas Jefferson"?
You decide for yourself. I know where I stand.