"Under God" from the Pledge of Alligance

Essay by cHeErBaBi7017High School, 10th gradeA, November 2003

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"In the relationship between man and religion, the state is firmly committed to a position of neutrality," ruled Associate Supreme Court Justice Tom C. Clark in 1963. Yet today, the American nation continues to struggle to eliminate religious misinformation from the public schools that constitute the very basis of our democracy. The Bill of Rights, that hallowed cornerstone of the Constitution, forbids the governmental creation of an established church in its First, often quoted, Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." For over 200 years, the Constitution itself, reinforced clearly by the interpretations of justices like Clark, has forbidden the connection of any instrument of government in the United States to an established church. However, inexplicably, religion has maintained a strong presence in the nation's public schools, the very institutions that are, allegedly, the foundation of our democratic society.

In Michigan, only a recent administrative decision has halted the distribution of Gideon Bibles to the students at a local elementary school; in Tennessee, the practice continues.

Debates over school prayer and creationism rage nationwide, with the separation of church and state under fire on a regular basis. Only in 1987 did the Supreme Court overturn a Louisiana statute requiring that Bible-based creation science be taught alongside evolution; less than five years earlier, the Court ruled in McLean vs. Arkansas Board of Education that Act 590, the "Balanced Treatment for Creation Science and Evolution Science Act, which allotted equal time to lessons of creationism and evolution, was unconstitutional. Clashes of creationists with evolutionists, just one demonstration of efforts to incorporate religious views into school curriculum, have prompted consideration of anti-evolution legislation in states from Washington to Georgia. Other attempts to mingle religion with public schooling are equally widespread. Students nationwide pledge allegiance to a nation "under God"...