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Unformatted text preview: The Two-Sided Guarantee of Religious Freedom Commencement Address: Albertson College May 31, 2003 By Hon. Stephen S. Trott A few months ago, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that California’s official practice of requiring the daily recitation in public elementary schools of our official Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional. The recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance by school children is unconstitutional? How could that be? Because the Pledge – which had no reference to religion or to God when it was codified in 1942 – was amended by Congress in 1954 to include the phrase “one nation under God;” and our court concluded that the compulsory reference to God in elementary school classrooms violates the guarantee against government involvement in religion found in the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of our Bill of Rights, which the Fourteenth Amendment makes applicable to the States and their school districts. “Under God,” that is the problem? Does this make sense? Our money proclaims our official motto, “In God We Trust.” The Declaration of Independence, our Nation’s birth certificate, identifies the very source of our basic rights as “Nature’s God” and our “Creator,” not our government. Thomas Jefferson wrote, “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 – That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men.” George Washington himself, the President of the Constitutional Convention and the President of the United States when the Bill of Rights was enacted, could not have been clearer about his views of the importance of religious faith to the success of our government. I quote from his “Farewell Address” of 1796: Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. –Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure – reason & experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. Did not President Lincoln say on the battlefield at Gettysburg, “[W]e here resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”? And, in unmistakable irony, the Supreme Court of the United States opens each session with the cry of, “God save the United States, and this honorable court.” So, this seemingly contradictory state of affairs raises a question: Where do two unelected federal judges get off invalidating this simple patriotic use in public elementary schools of our official Pledge? Here is the answer. Here is the answer....
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This note was uploaded on 09/02/2011 for the course GEN BUS 202 taught by Professor Parks during the Fall '11 term at Boise State.
- Fall '11
- The American, Supreme Court of the United States, First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Pledge of Allegiance, establishment clause