The pledge is a kind of forced confession of orthodoxy. No, not water-boarding, but coercion nonetheless. Especially for peer-group-pressured school kids. Even if they have the right to opt out. In past school-prayer cases, the court has resisted the idea that the state should be implicated in even the social coercion or propagation of religion.
Busybody school boards and bombastic anthem peddlers at ball games should let people find their way to allegiance in their own fashion rather than making "allegiance" an implement of state power used to extract oaths.
I say dump the entire pledge!
Now, In God We Trust never really offended me before. It was one of those things that I always just took for granted but didn't fret about because it didn't really impact my life. I might roll my eyes when I caught sight of it on a bill, but I wouldn't get upset.
Words themselves don't have any intrinsic offensiveness to them. It is when those words represent something that we find deeply repulsive--such as certain human behaviors--that the words take on their offensive character. And so it is that I have begun to find In God We Trust on my currency increasingly distasteful. The blame falls squarely on the fundamentalist offensive (did you like that double entendre?) to relabel the United States as a "Christian Nation." Many of these misinformed marionettes like to defend their claim with "It even says 'In God We Trust' on the money!" Never mind the sheer ludicrousness of that argument; I've come to realize that those four words serve no useful purpose other than as a rallying point for the fundagelical zombies. And so I'm beginning to agree with those people who already do find those words offensive.
Until recently, I had no concise way of conveying to a Christian why that would or even should be offensive to me. Then yesterday I read this post by VJACK that began thus:
How do you suppose American Christians would feel about using currency on which "Allahu Akbar" (Allah is the greatest) was printed?
Wow! That says it all. Without much hesitation, that line inspired Todd Sayre to create this little photoshoped beauty.
How would Christians feel if their money looked like that? Pretty offended would be my guess. Yet from my perspective, there's no difference: both statements are equally silly and neither belongs on legal tender. And yes, I am aware that the "God" from In God We Trust need not necessarily refer to the Christian God (try telling that to a fundamentalist), but as an atheist I find all gods to be as invalid as Allah is to Christians. So the analogy is a good one.