“The US Supreme Court has turned down an appeal from a high-school football coach who was banned from bowing his head during student-led team prayers. Without comment, the nation’s highest court ended Coach Marcus Borden’s efforts to overturn a township decision that, as a public employee, Borden cannot mix religion with his work as a coach. The High Court’s decision leaves intact a federal appeals court’s April 2008 decision that Borden’s desire to bow his head and take a knee during team prayer is an endorsement of religious activity at a public school. (RNS, 3/4/09)” — p. 41, NEWS
What’s Under God
One nation under God …
“Is this phrase from the US Pledge of Allegiance constitutional? Why should a secular state that is supposed to be neutral on religion want to include such an affirmation in its pledge?
In Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus has been shipwrecked trying to get home from the Trojan War. He washes up on shore in a strange land. When he meets the inhabitants, there is a burning question in his mind: Who are these people? ‘Savages are they, strangers to courtesy? Or gentle folk who know and fear the gods?’
If they recognize the gods, there are certain standards of behavior he can reasonably hope for from them, for Zeus cares for wayfarers and will ‘avenge the unoffending guest’ who is mistreated. But people who do not believe this might do anything. And so it plays out: The Phaiakaians, who honor the same pantheon, care for him, but the Cyclops, who ‘cares not a whistle for your thundering Zeus,’ devours half his men. Even a false religion may be better than no religion at all.
Individuals in our country have the right to believe in any god or no god. But is is important that the state, which upholds that right, conceive itself as under the same higher authority. If there is nothing above the state, the state becomes absolute. When the state becomes absolute, freedom is a myth. Thus, a democracy capable of guaranteeing freedom of religion –even for atheists — is possible only if it is ‘under God.’ Christians should be thankful that our official documents still recognize this fact, and citizens of every faith should pray that it stays that way.” — Donald T. Williams, p. 5 – QUODLIBET
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