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One Nation Under Zeus, Odin and Ra

March 7, 2011 Leave a comment

 Historian Donald E. Smith, who pioneered of the study of secularism in democratic India, noted that “Democracy and secularism are tightly bonded.” If one goes, so does the other.

It’s considered a foundational pillar of the liberal democratic ideology – the first building block on a nation’s way to democracy. So what does it say when the United States of America, arguably the world’s greatest democracy, certainly the most power and the most symbolic, asks its citizens, when pledging allegiance to the flag, must to so as “one nation under God” ?

 If you look through American history it’s not hard to find that Christianity, specifically Protestantism, defines American foreign and social policies and has since the nation’s inception. You really need look no further than the office of the President. To date the U.S., who heavily criticize religious regimes has had 43 Protestant Presidents of its 44 total, John F. Kennedy being the lone exception, a Catholic.

The addition of “under god” came in 1954, and has been heavily criticized and judicially challenged numerous times and continues to be a hot-button topic in the U.S., this isn’t really anything new. But as congress holds committee hearings on “Islamic radicalism” the issue has begun to come back to the forefront, with many predominant Muslims and Islamic scholars noting that it’d go a long way with the large religious communities (both Islamic and other non-Christian based) to abolish the words “under god” With an increasing diversity in the religion of Americans should “under god” and any other reference to “God” be removed from American (or any secular democracy for that matter) legislation?

I’m not sure how to look at this, on one hand they’re just words, on the other hand, to the more religiously inclined, they’re awfully meaningful words…

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