Alex Diaz’s superb letter on the impropriety of reciting the pledge of allegiance at SBCC board meetings led me to recall my first day of 4th grade in 1954. The teacher began by introducing herself, and then leading us in the daily pledge, a custom I had welcomed. But then she struck a most dissonant note, when she intoned “under God” — two words that, unbeknownst to me, Congress had added to the pledge earlier that year.
Up to that point I had considered school a secular refuge from my parents’ overzealous religious indoctrination. Even now, every time I attend a government meeting and hear “God” in the pledge or invocation, I cringe. How could this ostentatious show of piety not be deemed unconstitutional government endorsement of religion?
The answer lies in the shamefully disingenuous “logic” of religious zealots who’ve sat on our highest court. They, like local pledge proponent Celeste Barber, posit that anyone who objects to hearing “under God” in the pledge or invocation can either quietly sit or excuse themselves until that pious preliminary has ended. [See the U.S. Supreme Court’s notorious 2014 Town of Greece decision.]
Such disingenuousness ignores inconvenient facts. Try publicly disdaining “God” in a Bible Belt town where everyone knows everyone else’s business. Some pious attendees will take note, and proceed to insure that the infidel is forever marginalized, if not outright ostracized. The same discriminatory dynamic exists to some degree even here in supposedly pagan California.
Plain and simple, true believers want “God” in government to promote their faith, the better to lord it over nonbelievers. Myself, I’m praying (not to a deity) that the day comes when enough SBCC board meeting attendees absent themselves during the pledge that the board feels compelled to do the right thing: Either recite the pledge in its pre-1954 version, or omit it altogether.