The only two sure things in life are death and taxes, the old saying goes. I think by now we can safely add a third certainty – reading a Phyllis Schlafly column will leave you baffled that someone could write such nonsense with a straight face. Her latest column, about the Supreme Court’s current pledge of allegiance case, is a potpourri of stupidity from beginning to end. To wit:
A lower federal court threw out Newdow’s suit because he does not have custody of his daughter. The Supreme Court could follow suit, or the justices could decide, once and for all, if the words “under God” are enough to change the meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance from a patriotic oath into a prayer.
Wrong, Phyllis. The case has nothing to do with whether the pledge is transformed into a “prayer” by the addition of the words “under God”. The question is whether it constitutes an endorsement of religion. There are lots of things that the government could mandate that would violate the establishment clause without being prayers.
Before going insane, Friedrich Nietzsche declared, “God is dead.” Atheists want the Supreme Court to make it official.
Wrong again, Phyllis. The absence of government endorsement for the existence of God does not equate to a positive statement that “God is dead”. Prior to Congress adding the words “under God” to the pledge in 1954, was the pledge declaring God to be dead? Of course not. And removing those words now wouldn’t make that declaration either. This is a statement that could be made only by an idiot or a demagogue. Take your pick which I think Phyllis is.
The Supreme Court in 1962 banned prayer from public schools, and now schools are awash in drugs, sex, and violence.
Ah, I love this argument. It’s moronic both in premise and conclusion. The premise is flatly false. The Supreme Court did not ban prayer from public schools in 1962. The Supreme Court banned mandatory, government-sponsored prayers in public schools in 1962. Every teacher and every student is entirely free to pray in school so long as they don’t disrupt class time to do so. Millions of teachers and students pray in school every day. It is also entirely legal for student bible studies and prayer clubs to use school facilities before and after school to pray to their heart’s content, and there are thousands of such clubs around the country. If Phyllis really thinks that the Supreme Court banned prayer from public schools in 1962, I imagine she has a hard time explaining why so many people DO pray in schools on a daily basis.
It’s equally stupid to claim that taking mandatory, government-sponsored prayer out of schools led to the schools being “awash in drugs, sex and violence”. There is no correlation between violent societies and mandatory religious rituals performed in schools. In fact, the only correlation there is in the western world between religious belief and violent societies is a negative one for Schlafly’s purposes. The US is a far more religious nation than any nation in Europe with the exception of Ireland – a far higher percentage believe in God, believe in heaven and hell, and attend church, according to every survey ever done – yet the US has 2-3 times as much violence as any European nation. If you’re going to make these quick easy causal statements, you’d be more justified in claiming that religious belief leads to violence (a claim I would also say is false, by the way).
The courageous Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore was even removed from office for displaying the Ten Commandments in the rotunda of the Alabama State Courthouse.
Wrong again, Phyllis. Are you going for some kind of world record for making false statements? Roy Moore was not removed from office for displaying the ten commandments. Roy Moore was removed from office for publicly refusing to comply with a federal court order in a case that he knew he was going to lose – he’d already lost the same case over a much smaller display when he was a lowly district court judge. Public officials that refuse to follow legal court orders get removed from office, regardless of whether you think he was right or not.
But wait! She actually gets one thing right in this screed! She is correct to point out that the Solicitor General’s defense of the pledge as currently written is fundamentally wrong:
Or maybe the court will duck the dilemma by declaring that “under God” has no religious meaning, a ruling that would outrage Americans who are quite sure that God is alive and well.
Of course, she’s not smart enough to see that by admitting that the phrase “under God” is an explicitly religious statement, she is making Newdow’s case for him. The government has no business, under the first amendment, endorsing specifically religious statements like that. And she’s also wrong that this will outrage Americans who support the pledge. I don’t think the religious right rank and file cares what the court says about it, as long as the words stay there. Whatever basis is offered for the decision, as long as the decision is viewed as a defeat for atheists (never mind that briefs on behalf of Newdow have been filed by numerous religious organizations, that interrupts a perfectly inspiring good-vs-evil story), Schlafly’s followers will cheer it. She ends with this bizarre statement:
God is not so easily defeated in America.
Ah, yes. You see, this case isn’t about belief in God, or beliefs about God, or the right to have government endorsement of belief in God, a defeat would be a defeat for God himself! That strikes me as rather odd, though, since logically that would mean that all those other decisions that Phyllis so gleefully rants against were also defeats for God. For an omnipotent being, he sure does get his butt kicked in court a lot.