Ten Years Later, a Reflection on Michael Newdow’s Attempt to Remove “Under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance

Ten years ago today, the Supreme Court dismissed an atheist’s challenge that the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance were an endorsement of religion — without actually settling that question one way or the other. I figured it was as good a time as any to revisit that case and its implications.

Michael Newdow (above) filed the lawsuit against the Elk Grove Unified School District in March of 2000 on behalf of his daughter, who was in kindergarten at the time. Newdow argued that the daily recitation of the Pledge was an endorsement of religion by the district and he wanted the courts to rule that the inclusion of the words “Under God” violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.

In July, District Judge Peter Nowinski, not surprisingly, disagreed, maintaining that “the Pledge does not violate the Establishment Clause.”

So Newdow appealed. And that’s when all hell broke loose.

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Exploring the Right Wing’s Persecution Complex

Right Wing Watch just released a scathing report on the fictional narratives created by conservatives to bolster the ridiculous notion that Christianity is under attack:

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Christian Publication Apologizes for Posting Pedophile’s Essay, but Wrongly Removes Piece from Website

On Thursday, Hännah wrote about an appalling essay posted in Christianity Today‘s imprint publication, Leadership Journal.

The piece, written by an anonymous sex offender who was also a former pastor, neglected to share the fact that his victim was a child until close to the end of the piece. It was also implied that their “relationship” was consensual and that what the rapist did was a result of “sin” and not his own actions. A member of the editorial team even defended the post online as merely a “cautionary tale.”

The first attempt at fixing the mistake was just appending an editor’s note to the beginning of the piece and changing words in the article. Libby Anne, who does a nice job of highlighting the problems with that here, wrote, “Editing some of the language rather than removing the piece is like putting a bandaid over a gushing wound.”

Late Friday night, unable to contain the firestorm, Marshall Shelley (editor of Leadership Journal) and Harold B. Smith (president and CEO of Christianity Today International) issued an apology for publishing the piece. They took down the article (more on that in a moment) and pledged to do better in the future:

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In a Country Where Atheism is Equated with Terrorism, the Godless Are Growing in Number

In a country where a blogger was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes (on top of a more than quarter-million-dollar fine) for “insulting Islam” and the government equates atheism with terrorism, godlessness is actually growing incredibly fast in Saudi Arabia.

It’s in part due to a growing bitterness with the country’s theocracy, but the atheists dare not declare their beliefs publicly for obvious reasons:

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Tecumseh School Board Debates Having Prayers at Meetings; Member Suggests Atheists Would Be Fine with Them

If you want to see ignorance at work, check out the conversation that took place between Tecumseh (Michigan) School Board members earlier this week when the idea of having religious prayers at meetings came up:

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