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Home » Archives » Legislative Issues » National Legislation Issues Archive » 7/21/06: YES! to the Pledge, but NO! to the Pledge Protection Act!

7/21/06: YES! to the Pledge, but NO! to the Pledge Protection Act!

Special Letter from James Standish - Congressional Liaison for the Seventh-day Adventist Church

Dear Friends of Freedom,

It has been some time since I last wrote. It is not that there has been a lull in battle, but rather that we have been so overwhelmingly busy that I have found myself with little time outside of that needed to address each critical issue as it has arisen.

I am writing today as there is a particularly pernicious piece of legislation that has passed the House and that we MUST stop in Senate. The sponsors of the bill call it the “Pledge Protection Act.” The name for the act is more accurately the “Constitution Destruction Act” because that is precisely what it does. While we support the constitutionality of the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, we strongly oppose the so-called “Pledge Protection Act,” read on to understand why.

Why We Support the “Under God” Language in the Pledge

Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom – the model for the Federal constitutional clause that separates church and state - references the “Almighty.” If Jefferson invoked God in the statute that separates church and state, how can a similar reference to God violate the separation of church and state? Such a reading assumes that the language Jefferson’s bill itself violated the very principle it establishes. This is a patently incoherent reading.

Similarly, God has been frequently referenced in a variety of ways during the course of the American experiment. The Declaration of Independence itself references the “Creator.” It is inconceivable that the recitation of the preamble to the Declaration of Independence by American school children could be construed as unconstitutional. If school children can recite the preamble to the Declaration of Independence ("We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…) – and not violate the Constitution, they must be able to recite similar references to the Divine in other government proclamations, including the Pledge, and not violate the Constitution

Nevertheless, the so-called Pledge Protection Act is misguided and dangerous.

Why We Oppose this Constitution Destruction Act

First, the Act would make it illegal for courts to review the constitutionality of matters relating to the Pledge. If the backers of the bill succeed, they would create a precedent that would destroy the Bill of Rights. The heart of the Bill of Rights is the idea that certain rights are sacrosanct – and therefore outside the touch of the majority. The judicial branch, by design, is the branch of government least subject to pressures from the majority. If our individual liberties are left to bodies elected by the majority, religious minorities will see their rights dissolve very quickly. Our individual rights cannot be left to the whims of the political marketplace.

Second, the Act ignores that there are questions arising out of the Pledge that have serious individual liberty implications. Arguably the most important case regarding the Pledge relates to the religious freedom of those whose faith requires them not to participate. In particular, in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943), the Supreme Court held that Jehovah’s Witness students could not be forced to pledge allegiance in school. In so doing, the United States demonstrated it was a morally superior nation to those it was battling at the time. In contrast Nazi Germany sent approximately half of all the German Jehovah’s Witnesses to concentration camps in part for refusing to pledge allegiance to Hitler. In times of extreme national stress, it is vital that we retain the judiciary as a last resort for those whose religious liberty is violated in the name of nationalism.

What We Can Do to Stop this Constitution Destruction Act

God has greatly blessed this nation. Among the greatest blessings we enjoy are our fundamental rights, secured - even if imperfectly - by the balance of powers enshrined in our Constitution. We must do all we can to retain this balance. Defeating the pernicious “Pledge Protection Act” is an important step in that direction.

What can you do? Go to www.religiousliberty.info, click on the link “Yes! To the Pledge, but No! to the Pledge Protection Act” link under the Action Center, and send a letter standing up for the Pledge and opposing this effort to destroy our Constitutional protections. It will only take a couple minutes to send a letter – and it will be a vital step in alerting Congress to the dangers of this ill conceived bill.

This is critical.

Your voice can make all the difference.

Go to www.religiousliberty.info and make your voice heard. Let your friends, your co-workers, and your church know that we need their voice on this issue.

Congress is hearing from a lot of people who think this pernicious bill is patriotic. They are wrong. Patriotism starts with standing up for liberty, and no liberty is more precious than our religious liberty! Write a letter to Congress today and make your voice count – www.religiousliberty.info

Thank you for your support for religious liberty. It is people like you that make all the difference!

May God bless you,

James Standish