13 Feb A Victory for Equality
“The same laws that protect the atheists’ world view, protect mine. I will not let them silence me”.
Samantha Jones, a New Jersey student, felt compelled to take action when she learned of the American Humanist Association’s lawsuit protesting the Pledge’s use of the words “under God”, and seeking to eliminate the questioned wording from the Pledge of Allegiance in New Jersey Schools. In court, the judge ruled in favor of Jones. Though Jones’ story had a happy ending, the specifics of the lawsuit reveal a disturbing shift in the American mindset respecting religious freedom.
First: It appears that organizations bringing lawsuits of the type put forth by the American Humanist Association neglect to bring claims that may be contained within the parameters of the conceptual framework established hundreds of years ago in this country. More pointedly, the lawsuit seems to be steeped in the idea that human rights come from government, and not from God. While the concept of God varies amongst different religious sects, and many do not believe in any God, the idea that rights stem from legislative grace, as may be said of a tax deduction, is wholly un-American. Even many who profess no belief in God have argued over the years that rights come from natural law.
The idea that rights are granted by government, at least in modern times, may be traced to the misguided philosophies of Socialism and Communism. Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Ezra Taft Benson, summarized the conflict as follows:
Rights are either God-given as part of the divine plan, or they are granted by government as part of the political plan. If we accept the premise that human rights are granted by government, then we must be willing to accept the corollary that they can be denied by government. I, for one, shall never accept that premise.
The second aspect of the situation surrounding the lawsuit that should cause freedom-loving Americans alarm, consists in the fact that no student in New Jersey is compelled to say any part of the Pledge, and is not even required to rise while others who choose to do so recite it. New Jersey students choosing not to take part in the Pledge of Allegiance are exempted, yet their freedom to abstain is not enough; denying the freedom of others, exerting the supposed superiority of their own beliefs over the beliefs of others, was the defined objective of the lawsuit.
More than ever in our history, religious freedom requires vigilant protection. To quote Samantha Jones, “The same laws that protect the atheists’ world view, protect mine. I will not let them silence me”.