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ARE THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE AND NATIONAL MOTTO UNCONSTITUTIONAL?
not directly relating to the Christian faith, this article summarizes a
9th Circuit case that addressed the controversial issue of religious
liberty and the boundary limits relating to the First Amendment
Circuit Federal Appeals Court upholds Constitutionality of the use of
the word, “God,” in the Pledge
Allegiance and on United States Currency
On March 11,
2010, the Ninth U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals published a decision which upheld the use of
God” in the Pledge of
God We Trust” on U.S. currency
that the above phrases
do not violate the principal of separation of church and state.
challenges were brought in
two separate cases by Sacramento atheist activist, Michael Newdow, who
is a medical doctor (emergency room physician)
California lawyer. He
claimed that the
references to God disrespect his religious beliefs and violate the United States
Constitution. He has
instigated numerous lawsuits in the past relating to the same or
Pledge case, Newdow v. Rio
Linda Union School District, was decided by a 2 to 1 vote.
(or national motto) case, Newdow v.
LeFevre, was a unanimous decision.
U.S. Supreme Court in Lemon
v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971) held that,
to be constitutional:
the challenged governmental action must have a secular purpose;
principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits
(3) it “must not foster an excessive government
entanglement with religion.”
the appeals court noted: "Not every mention of God
or religion by our government or at the government's direction is a
of the Establishment Clause." Further, looking at the Pledge
"as a whole,"
"[t]he recitation of the Pledge is
designed to evoke feelings of patriotism, pride, and love of country,
not of divine fulfillment or spiritual enlightenment."
Court in the Pledge
case wrote that “The Pledge of Allegiance serves to unite our
through the proud recitation of some of the ideals upon which our
founded.” Its "ostensible
and predominant purpose [is] to inspire patriotism."
“under God,” refer to
“historical and religious traditions of our country, not a
through prayer or invocation that the speaker believes in
that the pledge did not have the purpose or effect of
religion. Further, the Pledge of Allegiance does not require
students to support or participate in religion or in a religious
students are not required
to recite the pledge but may opt out of the exercise.
In God We Trust.
further upheld the inscription of the national motto “In God
Trust” (36 U.S.C. 186), on coins
and currency. The Court held that the words are not
religious, but are ceremonial and patriotic. The court cited
as precedent its
earlier decision in Aronow v. United States, which
national motto is of a “patriotic or ceremonial
character,” has no “theological
or ritualistic impact,” and does not constitute
“governmental sponsorship of a
Pledge of Allegiance and national motto reflect our
nation's history and the values our nation was founded on.
a growing number of court decisions, including these two
cases decided by the liberal Ninth Circuit, have
concluded that there's no constitutional violation created by the
Pledge or the