If youve picked up a newspaper lately, or glanced at the evening news, you may have confused the remarkably similar stories of raging wildfires devouring wide swaths of America with stories on the ongoing public outcry over the Pledge of Allegiance being declared unconstitutional.
Both stories are being fueled by a torrent of pundits, politicians and expert "analysts," bombarding the airwaves with incendiary catchphrases and chilling sound bites. Both stories speak of "dark clouds" on the horizon, "shifting winds," and runaway blazes with no foreseeable end. And, in both stories, later investigations revealed the infernos were sparked by "suspicious circumstances."
In the case of the Pledge of Allegiance, Sacramento atheist activist Michael Newdow argued before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that his second-grade daughter was injured by having to listen to the words one nation under God being recited by classmates. However, WorldNetDaily reports that Newdows daughter is a Christian, who willingly recited the full pledge in class and who regularly attends church with her mother, Sandra Banning, with whom Newdow is embroiled in a bitter custody dispute.
Banning teaches Sunday school at the Calvary Chapel church in Elk Grove, California. Calvary Pastor Chuck Smith told WorldNetDaily: "The little girl, as I understand [it], was never offended by under God because she does believe in God."
Newdow, an emergency room doctor with a law degree, acted as his own lawyer in the case before the 9th Circuit. He argued, "Its my parental right to keep the government off my child." Perhaps, but what of his daughters and her mothers wishes or personal beliefs? This case wasnt about them. As Newdow told Fox News: "This is more about me than her (his daughter). Id like to keep her out of this." We now understand why.
Newdows daughter was little more than a pawn in this case, a stepping stone he used in the culmination of a decade-long crusade to advance his personal views on the Establishment Clause. He had failed in a number of earlier attempts to remove any reference to God from the public square. One involved a lawsuit against President George W. Bushs 2000 inauguration, which Newdow argued was overly religious. By simple luck of the draw, 9th Circuit Judges Alfred Goodwin and Stephen Reinhardt (in a 2-1 decision) put Michael Newdow on the map. Next stop? Newdow recently announced a lawsuit against the "In God We Trust" motto printed on all U.S. currency. The wildfire rages on. This one may never be contained.
The real victim in the fire ignited by Newdow is an 8-year old girl who, thanks to her father, may be remembered for having quashed her own freedom to voluntarily utter the words "under God" in the classroom.
For more on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals controversial decision, read: "One Nation, Under Siege by Establishment Clause Revisionism."July 11, 2002