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One of the issues where religious believers have the least sympathy for atheists and church/state separation is the Pledge of Allegiance. This isn't hard to understand because it's one of the most prominent forms of religious privilege, but it's also one of the starkest ways in which anti-atheist bigotry is both promoted and accepted in American society. Every day children recite a religious oath which devalues the patriotism and equality of atheists. Barack Obama supports this completely.


Read Article: Barack Obama on the Pledge of Allegiance: Equality vs. Privilege in School

February 22, 2008 at 9:40 am
(1) Blunderov says:

Same in South Africa. The government wishes to create a compulsory oath of allegiance including a clause of support for the constitution – whether one agrees with it or not.

I was always taught that a promise extracted under duress was null and void.

February 22, 2008 at 11:04 am
(2) marc says:

To read Obama in context (regardless of whether or not it reinforces your original view) you should read this:

Here is one quote fromt the page:
This brings me to my second point. Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God’s will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.

He also mentions that his father was a muslim turned atheist.

What I don’t understand about Obama is his belief in Christianity which is so clearly mythology.

February 22, 2008 at 11:38 am
(3) EvilPoet says:

Barack Obama’s father was an atheist.

“My father was almost entirely absent from my childhood, having been divorced from my mother when I was 2 years old; in any event, although my father had been raised a Muslim, by the time he met my mother he was a confirmed atheist, thinking religion to be so much superstition.” -Barack Obama, My Spiritual Journey, 10-16-06

All I can say is, I hope there is no residual resentment.

February 22, 2008 at 12:09 pm
(4) kevin says:

Unfortunately todays presidential races are about just that. Relating to the lowest common denominator of the most voters. Just because Obama is eloquent doesn;t mean he isn’t doing exactly the same thing.

February 22, 2008 at 2:14 pm
(5) Karen says:

you said, “If Barack Obama wants to be the president of all Americans, he needs to learn how to see things from the perspective of Americans who have beliefs which are very different from his own. He can’t simply reflect the most common prejudices or reinforce the lowest common denominator among American Christians. It’s not easy to even recognize one’s own nonconscious ideologies, much less get past them, but when it comes to a politician who keeps touting himself as an agent of change I don’t think that it’s too much to ask him to try. I think it’s especially important that he find some way to get past any anti-atheist prejudices he may harbor.”

WHAT?! Are you some kind of ChristianPhobe? WOW. The United States is made up of 86% Christians who would prefer someone in office that has a good moral background. Our wonderful country, and precisely backed up by the words “Under God” allows for ALL religions to practice, INCLUDING the atheists. IF you don’t want to say Under God or do not want your children to say Under God, then by God you are FREE to choose that!! No one is forcing it down your throat. It is “ok” for children to not say it in school If that is what the parents want. But dont try to force it down 86% of this country who prefer to NOT change it!

February 22, 2008 at 3:11 pm
(6) Austin Cline says:

Are you some kind of ChristianPhobe?

What in my article suggests that?

The United States is made up of 86% Christians who would prefer someone in office that has a good moral background.

How is this relevant to the article?

Our wonderful country, and precisely backed up by the words “Under God” allows for ALL religions to practice, INCLUDING the atheists.

1. Atheism isn’t a religion.

2. Saying that this is officially “one nation under God” excludes those who believe in a different god, in several gods, and in no gods.

IF you don’t want to say Under God or do not want your children to say Under God, then by God you are FREE to choose that!!

We are only free to choose not to because of several court cases in which Christians fought to see that everyone was forced to.

Regadless, if “one White Nation under God” or “one nation under Jesus” were the phrase, would making it option be OK?

But dont try to force it down 86% of this country who prefer to NOT change it!

So what you are saying is that it’s OK to have it there so long as people can choose not to say it, but it would be wrong to not have it there so long as people can choose to say it?

February 22, 2008 at 3:14 pm
(7) Telperil says:

OH NOES, Austin, u r a CHRISTANPHOBE!11eleventyone.

Karen really told you, didn’t she?

February 22, 2008 at 4:24 pm
(8) marc says:

Karen, As for ChristianPhobes, I’d gladly call myself that. And why? Because of the following statement that you made:
86% Christians who would prefer someone in office that has a good moral background

You identify morals with Christianity. Karen, can an atheist have morals, a Jew, a Muslim? Would you vote for one of them, or are the morals you are talking about really only apply to those who believe in your false mythology of a religion?

February 22, 2008 at 6:15 pm
(9) tracieh says:

Yes, let’s read Obama in context. How about the context of the quote Austin ACTUALLY used?

>But a sense of proportion should also guide those who police the boundaries between church and state. Not every mention of God in public is a breach to the wall of separation – context matters. It is doubtful that children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance feel oppressed or brainwashed as a consequence of muttering the phrase “under God.” I didn’t. Having voluntary student prayer groups use school property to meet should not be a threat, any more than its use by the High School Republicans should threaten Democrats. And one can envision certain faith-based programs targeting ex-offenders or substance abusers – that offer a uniquely powerful way of solving problems.

So, he’s pro faith-based gov’t funding. He’s cool with lending out goverment buildings for church meetings. And people who have an issue with having kids recite “Under God” are being over the top (no sense of “proportion”) even though Xians use this to bolster their argument (fabrication) that this is a Xian nation. Additionally, “Not every mention of God in public is a breach to the wall of separation.”

That’s right–not every mention in public is a breach. BUT when it touches our government or our tax-funded programs, structures and institutions, it very well _IS_ a breach.

Obama is dead _wrong_ on this.

I applaud his sense of fairness with regard to free religion, and I like a lot about him, and I have nothing more against him than any other candidate. But he’s flat out on the side of un-Constitutionality in his stance here–no matter what other great views he might hold.

February 22, 2008 at 6:21 pm
(10) tracieh says:

Most Americans are Caucasian. I wonder, if someone wrote in to say they’d appreciate a candidate who can try to see things from a racial minority perspective–maybe consider problems faced by the socio-economically challenged–if Karen would consider such people to be phobic of whites? Why can’t they just get on board? Most of America is white–why should we consider the problems facing our minorities? What do they matter?

Great philosophy. Very socially redeeming. Social progress is always made when people sit around complaining that nobody should be different and change should never occur. Is that like, the opposite of “growth”? Mental and social stagnation. What a great social goal.

February 22, 2008 at 8:00 pm
(11) Patrick Quigley says:

If you want to read a really bad statement on this issue, check out Hillary Clinton’s statement on the pledge of allegiance from her Senate website. Her argument is essentially that atheists should shut up because the majority believe in God, the country was founded by people of faith, and all positive social progress was the result of religion. Oh, and atheists are hurting the children and our soldiers fighting overseas by opposing the statement ‘under God.’ If you didn’t know the source you might very well guess that it was written by Gingrich or Santorum. I’ll take Obama’s thoughtlessness over Clinton’s animosity any day.

And on the topic of Ashcroft’s faith-based programs, let’s not forget that it was Hillary’s ‘co-president’ who proudly signed them into law along with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (later struck down by the Supreme Court) and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. As far as I can tell, Hillary Clinton has never spoken negatively of any of these laws.

February 22, 2008 at 10:45 pm
(12) marc says:

Thanks for the link Patrick. Hilary writes under the assumption all of the soldiers are religious and believe in god in a way that she deems valid. Also, the second paragragh, if you read between the lines, essentially states that the U. S. soldiers fighting overseas are fighting for us in the name of god. So god is on our side according to Hilary. Of course, the enemy thinks god is on their side too. Funny thing is, if god exists and had truly taken sides, I think we can all agree this war would have ended long ago, say about 1 second.

February 23, 2008 at 12:35 am
(13) ChuckA says:

It never ceases to amaze me that so many people in the American political ‘hierarchy’, with a ‘supposed’ high degree of intelligence, can simultaneously be total boneheads when it comes to buying into their childish, brainwashed cosmologies; as well as having an astounding lack of REAL historical knowledge regarding many of the ‘Founding Fathers’ outright disdain for all scriptural-based beliefs. Add to that, the overlooking of things like RUINING a perfectly acceptable (if indeed, truly unnecessary) version of the Pledge of Allegiance, which in my 1940s and ’50s Catholic school ‘yout’, had no reference whatsoever to a “God” in it. Even the, in those days, habit wearing nuns never said a peep about what’s now become such an amazingly stupid argument.
Yeah…What’s wrong, indeed, with: “…One nation; Indivisible; with Liberty and Justice for all!” Oy Vey!

And I hold on…albeit, more tenaciously than ever…to a 1935 twenty dollar bill; which has no “In God We Trust!” on it.
I guess, previous to all the…in my opinion, of course…stupid (lame-arse?) God-based additions on various currency…”we”…somehow trusted each other more. Or if you will…kind of trusted, perhaps…OURSELVES…?
As a native born citizen in this North American land, albeit, somewhat swindled(?) away from the original native inhabitants; I wonder…
Is it only the United States that’s so astoundingly and childishly ignorant…and boastfully arrogant…to that obviously non-rational, BONEHEADED, degree?
What!…AARGH??? :shock:

February 23, 2008 at 12:56 am
(14) Jim Lloyd says:

I’m an atheist and would personally like to see “under god” removed the the pledge. But I am a strong Obama supporter and I think his Call To Renewal speech was nearly perfect. Yes, he said some things we atheists find annoying. But he said other things that that annoy conservative Christians, but that they must start hearing from authority figures.

I’m okay with the fact that I will have to explain to my daughters what other people believe “under god” means in the pledge. That is relatively harmless compared to the damage done when science and reason are trumped by misguided faith. If Obama can persuade moderate Christians to more strongly support the separate of church & state, and weaken the political power that evangelicals have had, then he will be making a huge contribution to our cause.

February 23, 2008 at 11:25 am
(15) DeeGee says:

Karen misses the concept of a “captive audience” when she says that those in public schools are “free” not to say, “Under god” in the pledge if they don’t want to (and without risk of antagonism from others). Same deal for public school prayer. If you are there and forced to listen to it, then you are not really “free”. This is why the U.S. Supreme Court struck down pre-game prayers before high school football games in that case from Texas a few years ago. “Under god” should be yanked from the Pledge and it will return to the secular meaning it held prior to 1954 when it was first added. It should come off the money, too, but most people look at money only to count it and determine its denomination and make sure it is U.S. money and not counterfeit (to the best they are able to).

February 23, 2008 at 12:33 pm
(16) Paul Buchman says:

Never forget that part of the quote from Seneca that rulers regard religion as useful. That has not changed in all the centuries. We must continue to fight for equality but religion is not going away.

February 24, 2008 at 4:49 pm
(17) George says:

Karen writes; “Our wonderful country, and precisely backed up by the words “Under God” allows for ALL religions to practice, INCLUDING the atheists.”

Actually the United States is “backed up” by the words “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this CONSTITUTION for the United States of America.

There is no mention of God or pledges being necessary to “back up” the good old US of A. just “We the people.”

Perhaps a good political tack would be to ask for a substitution of the Preamble for the Pledge. It would make for a good counterpoint and no one could be branded as not being a good American. And bring back E Pluribus Unum too, the REAL American motto.

October 28, 2008 at 6:43 pm
(18) Anna says:

I am hearing OBAMA will take out the pledges, is this true? And is he muslim? Post a comment and i will come back to know!

September 14, 2012 at 11:05 pm
(19) P Smith says:

One expects to find enforced pledges and forced idolatry of a flag in a dictatorship. If one can’t refuse a pledge, one cannot burn the country’s own flag, then it’s not a free country.

Funny how the US forgets this when criticizing the governments of other countries. It’s one of the reasons I’m glad that I’m not an American. If I refuse to sing “O Canada” and “god save the queen” or burn a Canadian flag, I’m not going to be attacked or arrested. And Canada does not have a pledge.


September 14, 2012 at 11:16 pm
(20) Ron says:

Hey! I got an idea. Why don’t we remove “under God” from the pledge and replace it with “under Jesus”.

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