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Steve Ahlquist is an award-winning journalist, writer, artist and founding member of the Humanists of Rhode Island, a non-profit group dedicated to reason, compassion, optimism, courage and action. The views expressed are his own and not necessarily those of any organization of which he is a member.

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"We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” - Elie Weisel

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu

"There comes a time when neutrality and laying low become dishonorable. If you’re not in revolt, you’re in cahoots. When this period and your name are mentioned, decades hence, your grandkids will look away in shame." - David Brooks

16 responses to “One nation indivisible: The Pledge on trial in Massachusetts”

  1. craigville247

    Like it or not, taking God’s name out of the pledge doesn’t change who God is. He reigns and rules over all. We are the ones who ignore God because of our own deceived hearts and minds. The fool says in his heart there is no God.
    7For God is the King of all the earth; Sing praises with a skillful psalm. 8God reigns over the nations, God sits on His holy throne Psalm 47:7-8

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  2. skwerl

    Craigville, the point is that OUR government should not be mingling with YOUR religion. Once religion starts seeping into government, freedom no longer exists.

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  3. PinkHatLib

    I wish someone would challenge the insertiion of “under God” on poetic grounds. Totally messed up the meter.

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  4. cailin rua

    There are Christians who have brought suit against being forced to swear a pledge to a flag. That happened a century before the Knights of Columbus were even able to get the Presbyterians on board with the untergawd thing in the mid fifties, along with the newly converted Eisenhower.  The Christian group was  the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Todd Aiken has introduced “court stripping” legislation a few times that has met with protest from Reform Jews, in this very century.
    The film, Earth, by Deepa Mehta informs me of all I need to know about the guvment and religion.  Jeffrey Eugenides’ account of the burning of Smyrna does the trick, too. Then there is and, etc., etc., etc., etc. 

    The Wikipedia article on the Pledge is pretty informative.  I never knew about the Bellamy Salute:

    The way some people react, one would think all this untergawd stuff was handed down to Moses on Mt. Sinai, along with the formula for Coca-Cola, then written into the U S Constitution in the late eighteenth century.  That doesn’t seem to be the case, at all.  I wonder what Madison and Jefferson would have had to say about court stripping.  

    Francis Bellamy was a socialist:

    “Francis Bellamy and Upham had lined up the National Education Association to support the “Youth’s Companion” as a sponsor of the Columbus Day observance along with the use of the American flag.”



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  5. Matuk160

    Once again your piece demonstrates that tolerance only works in one direction.  If your choice is to not practice a religion, I’m fine with that. I tolerate that. Wish you would tolerate my beliefs. And to suggest that we are a secular nation requires us to ignore the writings of our founding fathers that are overwhelmingly filled with references to God.  They fought for freedom of choice in one’s religion. 
    I tolerate your choice to not practice a religion…please tolerate my right to do so.
    Next up…they really didn’t mean it when they wrote that we were endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights…right?

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    1. jgardner

      “requires us to ignore the writings of our founding fathers that are overwhelmingly filled with references to God”
      Even so, in the document that really matters, the Constitution, the founders avoided any reference to God.
      “I tolerate your choice to not practice a religion…please tolerate my right to do so”
      That’s a strawman. No one is saying you can’t practice a religion. To the contrary this case is about returning to the Constitutional roots and having the gov *not* offer preference to any one religion. That is true freedom of religion.

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    2. PinkHatLib

      Yes, here’s Jefferson writing about God…
      “Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear.”
      -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787

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