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← Whitehouse Response to "One Nation Under God" Petition

Whitehouse Response to "One Nation Under God" Petition - Comments

The Truth, the light's Avatar Comment 1 by The Truth, the light

Obama really should grow a backbone. Obviously it would be deeply unpopular with a sizeable percentage of the population, but that isn't a good reason to not want to touch it.

Sun, 30 Oct 2011 09:03:31 UTC | #885351

legal9ball's Avatar Comment 2 by legal9ball

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers.

I would have liked him to put those in order of prevalence. We are a nation of Christians and non-believers, Jews and Muslims, and Hindus. Also, it would have been fun not to exclude Wiccans, Satanists, and Vodunists.

Sun, 30 Oct 2011 12:15:12 UTC | #885374

paulmcuk's Avatar Comment 3 by paulmcuk

It's quite amusing to me as I can almost picture the official putting that reply together. I used to do that job myself (for the UK government) and it has all the hallmarks of an "official reply". Almost certainly, Obama was never even aware of the petition, let alone the content of the response.

In fairness, what else could the reply say? Any hint of agreement with the petition would have guaranteed that Obama lose the next election. For the christian right it's probably an outrage that he goes so far as to acknowledge that non-believers have any place at all in American society.

Sun, 30 Oct 2011 14:22:13 UTC | #885398

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 4 by Jos Gibbons

a robust dialogue about the role of religion in public life is an important part of our public discourse

No it's not. We know exactly what role it should have; none in any political sense. That's the whole point of the very constitutional principles in question. And by the way, it's not just the first amendment; it's the fourteenth one too, and article VI.

While the President strongly supports every American's right to religious freedom and the separation of church and state, that does not mean there's no role for religion in the public square

Why doesn't it? Either it is, or is not, OK for the government to respect an establishment of religion or prohibit the free exercise thereof. Oh, wait - it isn't OK, as the 1st amendment explains. "Under God", "In God we trust" etc respect an establishment religion. ("But not any one religion," I hear them cry. The 1st amendment prohibits "respecting an establishment of religion".)

the important role religion plays in politics and in public life

Read the Constitution; religion and politics should be entirely separate.

A sense of proportion should also guide those who police the boundaries between church and state. Not every mention of God in public is a breach to the wall of separation - context matters.

Give an explicit example of how, and the Supreme Court had better back it up with a suitable interpretation of the constitution.

These phrases represent the important role religion plays in American public life

"Public life" is only relevant to political slogans insofar as it means something political, in which case the constitution requires it be religiously neutral.

We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers

Which means "one nation under God" would make as much sense as "one nation under no god" or "one nation under a lack of god", neither of which would be constitutionally acceptable lyrics in the pledge.

We're proud of that heritage, and the strength it brings to our great country

What specific advantage is there for the US in ignoring the constitution in this way? How does all this pride translate into something of higher legal standing than the US constitution?

Sun, 30 Oct 2011 14:28:41 UTC | #885400

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 5 by Ignorant Amos

Throughout our history, people of all faiths – as well as secular Americans – have played an important role in public life. And a robust dialogue about the role of religion in public life is an important part of our public discourse.

Not so much in recent times though, eh?.....

Sun, 30 Oct 2011 14:54:46 UTC | #885405

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 6 by Ignorant Amos

We all know to what "God" with the capital 'G' is being refereed, only an imbecile doesn't. Does it say "god", "gods", "deities" or any of those plus the words "or lack thereof" ? That is to say, "In gods, or lack thereof, we trust".....not the same ring to it though and it would take up too much space on the money......oh, and the holy rollers would be up in arms and wouldn't be able to carry cash again.

Sun, 30 Oct 2011 15:13:22 UTC | #885416

RomeStu's Avatar Comment 7 by RomeStu

It's a shame that Obama can't/won't stand up on this one .... but his no1 job for the next 12 months is to get re-elected and avoid the risk of a serious lunatic getting into the White House. US politics being what it is, any attempt to change this phrase would amount to a resignation speech.

I feel more and more sorry for Obama each year.

Sun, 30 Oct 2011 16:05:55 UTC | #885433

JuJu's Avatar Comment 8 by JuJu

When someone says "One nation under god" I hear, "One nation under a hypnotic trance".

Sun, 30 Oct 2011 16:14:01 UTC | #885434

mjs31's Avatar Comment 9 by mjs31

The guy that gave the response is the head of the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in the Executive Office of the President of the United States. So the guy in charge of unconstitutional religious programs in government replies to a petition made concerning something similarly unconstitutional. How inconsiderate can you get?

Sun, 30 Oct 2011 16:33:13 UTC | #885436

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 10 by Mr DArcy

( On a pub wall somewhere)

In God we trust!

All others pay cash.

Sun, 30 Oct 2011 17:18:37 UTC | #885451

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 11 by Neodarwinian

E pluribus unum is the motto of the United States Of America and that motto is the only one I recognize!

Sun, 30 Oct 2011 19:56:30 UTC | #885491

Quine's Avatar Comment 12 by Quine

To those who say it really doesn't matter, I ask them to visualize a classroom where each morning before the pledge, a student reaches into a fishbowl of deity names and pulls out a slip of paper with the name to be used that morning. Can you imagine what would happen in Mississippi (picked that one 'cuz it's fun to type) when the teacher announces, "today we are going to pledge to One Nation under Allah"?

The whole idea of the U.S. Government putting a deity name in the pledge, or on the money, is unconstitutional (left over from the "red scare" of the '50s), but fixing that costs too much political capital to pay down any time soon. When the congress has about 30% open non-believers, instead of the current 0.2%, we can get started.

Sun, 30 Oct 2011 20:31:20 UTC | #885502

Quine's Avatar Comment 13 by Quine

I would like the members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster to organize a petition to force the Mint to print "In FSM we trust" on currency in proportion to the numbers of FSM believers in the population. It is a clear violation of the First Amendment for the Mint to respect the deities of the Christians while the FSM goes without recognition. Yes, I know it is a violation, FSM or not, but one of the problems in getting to Court on this issue is the matter of standing (that stopped the pledge case at the SCOTUS). It is much easier for believers in one religion to get standing to go after favoritism than for non-believers to go after respect of religion in general.

Sun, 30 Oct 2011 21:37:19 UTC | #885514

Zeuglodon's Avatar Comment 14 by Zeuglodon

The doublethink they commit is annoying. Apparently, the Mint's publishing "In God We Trust" on everybody's currency is evidence for a separation of church and state.

Comment 12 by Quine The whole idea of the U.S. Government putting a deity name in the pledge, or on the money, is unconstitutional (left over from the "red scare" of the '50s), but fixing that costs too much political capital to pay down any time soon. When the congress has about 30% open non-believers, instead of the current 0.2%, we can get started.

It's at times like these I start wondering if atheists are far too diplomatic in the public space. Boycotts, public demonstrations, repeated petitions, Question and Answer sessions for the public - surely we need more stuff like this just to stop all this implicit anti-atheism I keep coming across, something that'll make a huge cultural blast, and in our favour and the public's. At this rate, atheists are going to need their own Martin Luther King and Mahatma Ghandi.

Sun, 30 Oct 2011 22:22:35 UTC | #885522

Quine's Avatar Comment 15 by Quine

I will never forget a video I saw at the start of the war in Afghanistan, in which a member of the Taliban held up a US dollar and pointed to the "In God We Trust" and called us hypocrites.

Sun, 30 Oct 2011 22:29:15 UTC | #885524

zengardener's Avatar Comment 16 by zengardener

Why do they even have children saying the pledge of allegiance?

The whole thing stinks.

Sun, 30 Oct 2011 22:47:39 UTC | #885528

SheerReason's Avatar Comment 17 by SheerReason

Well, he just lost my vote. Not that it matters a great deal since I live in a "Red State". Damn the consequences! Honestly, he lost it a long time ago.

He refused to seek prosecution for illegal activities by the Bush administration. He broke his promise to put an end to Guantanamo Bay and rendition. He's used his office to enforce the Bush administrations threat to end intelligence sharing with Britain to persuade the British High Court to keep secret the details of extraordinary rendition.

The list goes on. Change we can believe in, my ass!

Will I see an openly atheist candidate with any chance of being elected to the big office in my lifetime? Sigh...

Mon, 31 Oct 2011 01:47:13 UTC | #885586

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 18 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 17 by SheerReason

Will I see an openly atheist candidate with any chance of being elected to the big office in my lifetime? Sigh...

Hardly, though it will happen someday. It is a nice thought to think it may happen in my lifetime too. Mind you, stranger things have happened.

Mon, 31 Oct 2011 02:20:54 UTC | #885596

PatW's Avatar Comment 19 by PatW

Obama's words are in direct violation of US Supreme Court rulings on the 1st Amendment separation of church and state. But then Obama has been playing heavy duty political patty cake with the K Street theist lobbies for votes and other support like money, and great deal of it, paid to Democrat political action committee (PACs) accounts.

If anyone should know better than to hustle that tripe, it's Obama, having graduated with a law degree from Harvard, served on the Harvard Law Review as editor, and began teaching with emphasis on constitutional law.

For a little history on why "In God We Trust" went on the money and the words "....under God...." were inserted into the pledge. The author of the pledge was a Baptist minister who didn't insert those words. He knew how to keep his personal faith belief out of politics when he wrote the pledge. At least one member of the minister's descendent family has consistently complained about the insertion the minister never intended. No permission was asked of minister's family members, and the minister was already deceased when it was done.

Jefferson, Adams, Madison and others have many authenticated well-documented words recorded clearly stating that religion and religious themes did not belong anywhere in the public sector. It wasn't until McCarthy's fascist Red Scare committee formed in the 1950s that the cited words were respectively placed on the money (one dollar bill and coins) and in the pledge.

Mon, 31 Oct 2011 03:34:09 UTC | #885609

PatW's Avatar Comment 20 by PatW

Comment 6 by Ignorant Amos :

We all know to what "God" with the capital 'G' is being refereed, only an imbecile doesn't. Does it say "god", "gods", "deities" or any of those plus the words "or lack thereof" ? That is to say, "In gods, or lack thereof, we trust".....not the same ring to it though and it would take up too much space on the money......oh, and the holy rollers would be up in arms and wouldn't be able to carry cash again.

The way far too many people have carried on in the US, their "god" is apparently the money. It's as if they have to keep reminding themselves in writing on the money that money is their supposed to be their one and only "god". They just forgot to add the words "...the money..." after the words "...under God…" in the pledge those inserting the words had no legal copyright permission to add.

Mon, 31 Oct 2011 03:47:32 UTC | #885613

Zeuglodon's Avatar Comment 21 by Zeuglodon

Comment 19 by PatW

For a little history on why "In God We Trust" went on the money and the words "....under God...." were inserted into the pledge. The author of the pledge was a Baptist minister who didn't insert those words. He knew how to keep his personal faith belief out of politics when he wrote the pledge. At least one member of the minister's descendent family has consistently complained about the insertion the minister never intended. No permission was asked of minister's family members, and the minister was already deceased when it was done.

Jefferson, Adams, Madison and others have many authenticated well-documented words recorded clearly stating that religion and religious themes did not belong anywhere in the public sector. It wasn't until McCarthy's fascist Red Scare committee formed in the 1950s that the cited words were respectively placed on the money (one dollar bill and coins) and in the pledge.

Begging your pardon, Patw, but how do you know all this? Can you give me a link?

Mon, 31 Oct 2011 04:52:38 UTC | #885618

PatW's Avatar Comment 22 by PatW

Comment 21 by Zeuglodon :

Comment 19 by PatW

For a little history on why "In God We Trust" went on the money and the words "....under God...." were inserted into the pledge. The author of the pledge was a Baptist minister who didn't insert those words. He knew how to keep his personal faith belief out of politics when he wrote the pledge. At least one member of the minister's descendent family has consistently complained about the insertion the minister never intended. No permission was asked of minister's family members, and the minister was already deceased when it was done.

Jefferson, Adams, Madison and others have many authenticated well-documented words recorded clearly stating that religion and religious themes did not belong anywhere in the public sector. It wasn't until McCarthy's fascist Red Scare committee formed in the 1950s that the cited words were respectively placed on the money (one dollar bill and coins) and in the pledge.

Begging your pardon, Patw, but how do you know all this? Can you give me a link?

I can only present links anyone else can find on the Internet. I rely on academic and professional presentations for my information, including the Internet. Much of what I already knew, because I lived history of it, can be found on the Internet, and others at any public library, public bookstores, and college and university campus bookstores.

If you're looking for the history of McCarthyism, the following link should be able to get you started on any further interest in that historical study:

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAmccarthyism.htm

Mon, 31 Oct 2011 05:22:10 UTC | #885622

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 23 by Red Dog

Comment 1 by The Truth, the light :

Obama really should grow a backbone. Obviously it would be deeply unpopular with a sizeable percentage of the population, but that isn't a good reason to not want to touch it.

For a politician who wants to get re-elected the fact that an issue is "deeply unpopular with a sizeable percentage of the population" is in fact a very, very good reason not to support it.

What you are essentially saying is that Obama should risk losing the next election and letting another George Bush (or probably worse) run the country for the next four years for the sake of taking a principled stand. The US and the world just can't take it.

I think instead this is a challenge for American atheists. As FDR said to some leftists on another issue "great idea now make me do it". I.e., change public opinion. We need to change public opinion to the point where these issues become the people's choice. Of course that takes time and effort but it can be done. Look at the change in the way Americans view gay rights issues between now and 30 years ago.

Mon, 31 Oct 2011 13:56:23 UTC | #885716

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 24 by irate_atheist

While the President strongly supports every American's right to religious freedom and the separation of church and state, that does not mean there's no role for religion in the public square.

Actually, it does mean there is no role for religion in the public square. Separation.

Oh, FFS. You guys are screwed. You had your chance and you blew it. Morally, intellectually and literally bankrupt.

Mon, 31 Oct 2011 16:28:02 UTC | #885757

Steven Mading's Avatar Comment 25 by Steven Mading

Change in public attitude has to come from bottom-up. It can't really come from top-down unless you're in a lucky enough position to be like a Rupert Murdoch or similar media mogul so you can try to affect public attitudes from a top-down means.

Obama's (or probably one of his staffers speaking for him) response letter is the symptom, not the cause, of the problem here. Obama has a very anti-atheist, pro-religion attitude, but then again so would every possible candidate who had a chance of getting elected. The simple fact is that public opinion is such that any candidate who wasn't someone who spoke that way would simply not be holding office right now. It's the population that cause this, and that's where the argument needs to be had. Wasting your time arguing with the leader won't matter. The leader is really just a follower - saying what he thinks the population wants to hear. The only means of change is bottom-up.

And that means, stop being afraid to tell people you're an atheist. And stop being afraid to be outspoken at the grassroots level about what's wrong with religious privilege. Being meek for the sake of "smoothing things over" with your religious friends and family, and relying on the court to uphold the constitution against public opinion is NOT a path to success. If public opinion is strongly against what the constitution says, then eventually a court will find a way to "re-interpret" it to fit closer to public opinion. A written constitution is a hindrance against tyranny of the majority, but it is only a hindrance. It is not an unassailable defense.

Mon, 31 Oct 2011 21:07:34 UTC | #885823

raytoman's Avatar Comment 26 by raytoman

The soon to be ex President of the US is a self avowed Christian!

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 00:53:55 UTC | #885861

CyrusSpitama's Avatar Comment 27 by CyrusSpitama

Yes, context does matter, but money and country pledges - which should take into account ALL Americans, including secular ones - are not the appropriate contexts. As much as it may disturb obstinate believers, superficially, a secular government is the same as a government ran by atheists/agnostics.

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 02:08:09 UTC | #885864

78rpm's Avatar Comment 28 by 78rpm

I never liked that Pledge, and I am old enough to have been made to say it even before the religious insertion. Even then I seemed to hear a heel-click at the end.

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 02:44:44 UTC | #885866

MilitantApatheist's Avatar Comment 29 by MilitantApatheist

It should be:

I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the divided states of America and to the republic for which it wobbles one nation, under a massive amount of debt, clearly divisible, with liberty and justice for some.

Fri, 04 Nov 2011 06:42:18 UTC | #887248

sandman67's Avatar Comment 30 by sandman67

awww come on - what the hell do you expect from these clowns? You fecking voted for them.

This is what you get when you buy into the whorehouse system of US politics, where nice white teeth in your mouth matter more than the words that come out of it, funds matter more than issues, wearing your faith on your sleeve is an essential to get elected to be even the local dog catcher, and stupidity and ignorance are elevated to virtues required to hold public office. Only in the US could people like Bachmann, Cain and Palin ever be considered for high office....a country where politicans have bigger shoe sizes than IQs. Only n the US do you elect prosecuted war criminals like Alan West to high office, and allow a nepotstic dishonest sexual harrasing scumbag like Clarance Thomas to remain a senior judge.

Impeach the swine for wasting legislature time on this cack and debates about baseball medals when there are real debates that need addressing. Dont vote for ANY candidiate that makes public professions of faith, or takes any form of non fully disclosed and auditable campaign contribution, and tell the sodding focus groups and canvassers you wont as well. Stick your foot down hard in the face of these clowns, or carry on suffering from the rosy tinted exceptionalist revisonist snake oil flummery and watch yourself get ever further all back o the bus, talked into those seats by piano smiled know nothing retards wth deep pockets and closets full of skeletons.

50 years ago you sent men to the moon......WTF happened?

Fri, 04 Nov 2011 14:37:13 UTC | #887358