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No separation between church and state in the actual pledge
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"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

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The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals - long viewed as the most liberal federal appellate court in the United States - made a highly logical ruling last week based on constitutional law.

The ruling essentially said the Pledge of Allegiance is just that - a pledge - and not prayer. As such it does not violate the separation of church and state tenants of the constitution

Judge Carlos Bea wrote the majority opinion in Thursday's ruling. Bea pointed out that no one is forced to utter the words "under God" as citing the pledge is not mandatory in schools.

It was the same court that ruled in favor in 2002 of the complainant who lost this time - Michael Newdow. The doctor/attorney argued both times that by referencing God - and not some other deity or even making any reference of a higher power - it did not treat people equally on the basis of their religious views.

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 9th District ruling in 2002 based on the fact Newdow, who was suing on behalf of his daughter who flet she had to recite the pledge at her Elk Grove school, did not have legal standing as he did not have custody of his daughter.

Congress in 2002 - immediately following the initial 9th District ruling - passed legislation reaffirming the pledge.

All of this means the system works. Congress acted within its powers to reaffirm the original inserting of the words "under God" in the pledge by an act of Congress in 1954.

The court weighed the legislative actions involving the pledge and the context in which it is delivered. It is a logical conclusion that it is not prayer but simply a pledge.

Do the words "under God" uttered in public schools funded with tax dollars violate the separation of church and state? No more than the armed services having taxpayer financed chaplains representing different faiths. It is not mandatory for soldiers to attend religious services. And you can rest assured that there are chaplains who reference God.

Frankly, Newdow and others who lose sleep over the schools reciting the Pledge of Allegiance have nothing to worry about.

How the pledge is recited is anything but religious indoctrination.

You do not hear of teachers explaining what or who "God" is in relation to the flag.

If there is any real area of concern - and I do not believe there is - it would be for the pledging allegiance to the nation as it could be construed as a mandatory loyalty oath for citizens which would definitely have sinister overtones.

Even so, there is no longer official pressure for kids to conform and recite the pledge. One might argue peer pressure makes them feel uncomfortable to refuse to recite the pledge but that is a far cry from imposing a religious view on a child.

There is a different between peer pressure to recite the pledge and actual pressure to join a religion.

Obviously, those who inserted "under God" into the pledge where referencing a Judeo-Christian God. But given how it hasn't been used to hammer any one into submission to a particular religion is proof positive that it is a pledge and not religious indoctrination.

The fact that even religious groups that are "God-based," if you will, disagree greatly on a lot of aspects of Christianity lends additional credence to the argument it is not religious indoctrination.

Newdow disagrees vehemently with the court's observation that the phrases such as "under God" in the pledge and "in God we trust" on currency and coin has nothing to do with establishment of religion by the state but are simply ceremonial and patriotic phrases.

The pledge is what it is - a pledge to flag and country made in a secular setting to a secular concept of liberty and justice for all.

By the way, to add some fuel to the fire almost all of us recite the pledge wrong.

Virtually everyone pauses between nation and God. There is no separation between nation and God in the pledge as no comma exists to signify a pause.

Perhaps Newdow will sue next to get a pesky comma inserted between "one nation" and "under God."