Atheists, are you offended by "Under God"?

I am an atheist, so I don’t really care about the phrase “Under God”. To me, it would be the same if it was “Under Allah”, “Under Peter Pan” or “Under the Five Headed Tentacle Monster”.

These phrases do not offend me, because I know that all these things do not exist. I find these references stupid, but I couldn’t care less. It seems however that many atheists are offended. Why? What is your reasoning?

I’m with you on this one. As an atheist and an american if I had to have an opinion on the “under god” or “in god we trust” thing I would agree they should be removed but honestly don’t we have bigger issues to worry about? It’s harmless and trivial imo. If somebody is offended and has the time to fight that battle more power to them. As for me I’ve got better things to do.

I’m slightly offended by it.

I feel that references to god reflects the approval of and a bias towards western, particularly Christian, religions that does not belong. It also implies that other belief systems are somehow less valid in the eyes of the government.

The Constitution says that church and state are to remain separate. I believe that referencing god violates this.

I’m agnostic, FWIW.

We’re offended because these aren’t just expressions of faith in something we don’t believe in by our fellow individual citizens, or by organizations (like churches) that people can voluntarily join or not join, as they see fit. If the Knights of Columbus wants to start every meeting with an invocation that they are “under God”, it doesn’t bother me at all. “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance is an expression by the United States Congress, on behalf of the entire nation (including me) that we are “under God”. “In God We Trust” as the national motto is either saying, at least symbolically, that a.) I trust in God or b.) I’m not part of the “we”. In the U.S. the Pledge is most commonly recited in public schools; I think a captive audience of impressionable young children, subject to the intense peer pressure young kids can apply, are the last people who should be subject to government religious (or anti-religious) indoctrination. Although “In God We Trust” doesn’t apply so directly to the education of young children, there has been a movement to post “In God We Trust” signs in public schools–after all, it’s the national motto, and it couldn’t possibly be unconstitutional to post the national motto in a public school, could it?

Of course there are more important things to be concerned about. That applies with equal force to all the Christians who are deeply concerned with the possibility of those phrases no longer being given official sanction though, doesn’t it?

As far as being a tether that ties us to an ignorant past, I am offended by it.

Actually, the whole idea of inducing children to pledge allegiance to anything is anathema to me. What we should be teaching is that in a democracy, any entity that wants your allegiance must constantly demonstrate its worthiness.

If proponents of the flag’s iconography have failed to induce respect for it on its own merits, I say the entire Pledge belongs on the scrap heap.

Do other countries pledge allegiance to their various national symbols? Or is this an American disease?

It leaves me with a general sense of being left out, as if I’m not as much a citizen because this is a country for people ‘under god’ and I am not one of those people.

I don’t like it.

I believe the virulence is purely American. I vaguely recall that if you want to become a Canadian citizen you need to pledge allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen and some other buzz words related to Canada, but since I’m Canadian by birth I’ve never been required to do that. Certainly there is no equivalent to the pledge of allegiance in the schools.

I’m definitely offended by it, but on my List of Things To Be Offended By, it’s way down at number 10 or so. Right under all those oxymoronic “In God We Trust/United We Stand” bumper stickers.

It’s not so much that I’m offended by it, but more that expressions of religious fealty are inappropriate for a secular nation. Including “under God” in the Pledge signifies that one must be a believer in a monotheistic deity in order to be a loyal citizen.

MEBuckner put it best:

And saying that my lack of belief in the anthropomorphic personification of natural forces makes me an inferior or disloyal American is antithetical to the idea of what America is all about, IMO.

When exactly do americans pledge allegiance ?

In Brazil school children during the dictatorships used to sign the anthem and honor the flag… sometimes pledge allegiance.

As for the "Under God"... if its a relic of tradition and the past... fine. If its a recent thing then it stinks of interference. If I were american I would rather not have it... but I don't think I would be offended specifically. Not happy for sure though.

I was an impressionable youth at the time the phrase “under God” was added to the pledge. I was also laboring under the impression that I was supposed to believe in God, an impression that I have gotten past. However, when it came time to utter those words during our daily recitation, I simply shut up, pausing long enough to come back in when we got back to “indivisible”. I felt no peer pressure to go along because I don’t think anybody noticed that I wasn’t going along.

Sure I find it offensive.

I don’t think it’s worthy of this nation and its founding principles.

It is rather jejune, but harmless in the long run. Maybe it’s good for a chuckle, but not much else.

I’m comfortable with atheism, I don’t feel slighted or left out, and other folk’s statements of religious beliefs don’t bother me.

If I were given the option and authority, I might edit the phrase out, but I’m not going to get my undies in a bundle over it. It is unlikely that I’ll ever have to speak the pledge again, but if I did, I’d simply not say the “under God” part, or, if I were in a particularly bellicose mood, add the word “not” and see what happens.

Perhaps a reason to be disturbed would be that, in a slight way, the term “under God” could undermine our country’s status as a self-sovereignty—we aren’t under a king, nor should we be under a God. If a King were appointed by God, the Divine Right of Kings, and we acknowledge being “under God,” how much of a stretcher would it be to say our country should be under the King under God? I’m not sure anyone believes in the Divine Right of Kings anymore, so the argument may be moot.

Well, everything in the U.S. (or Brazil, for that matter) is a recent thing, compared to say England. (Let alone Egypt or China.)

The Pledge of Allegiance was originally written in the late 19th century, by a socialist clergyman, as follows:

It was amended to “…flag of the United States of America” in the 1920’s. In the '50’s Congress amended it again to include the “under God” phrase, to differentiate between the U.S. and “godless Communism”. One Congressman had a speech inserted into the Congressional Record in which he proclaimed that “an atheistic American…is a contradiction in terms”. (Since we are now at war with a bunch of fanatical theocrats instead of atheistic Communists, perhaps we should amend it to “one secular nation”.) Quite a few Americans who are alive today (including my parents) learned it without God, then had to re-learn it with the new words (which I guess throw off the meter or something if you’ve already learned to recite it without the “under God”).

Incidentally, the U.S. Supreme Court very firmly stated that recitation of the Pledge may not be made mandatory in a 1943 decision West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, reversing a previous decision handed down only three years earlier. That case involved Jehovah’s Witnesses and mandatory recitations of the P.o.A. in public schools, and actually involved the pre-God version of the Pledge. In practice, that decision has not always been perfectly respected by individual school principals and local school boards and the like.

“In God We Trust” has a somewhat longer history. A version of the phrase is found in the fourth stanza of “The Star-Spangled Banner”, written during the War of 1812 (and officially adopted as the National Anthem in 1931). The exact “IGWT” phrase was first officially used after a Presbyterian minister wrote to the Secretary of the Treasury during the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865) that the nation’s troubles were caused by its failure to publicly acknowledge God. (Gee, I would have thought slavery had something to do with it, but never mind…) Thereafter, “In God We Trust” appeared on most U.S. coins, although it was omitted from a few issues before the 1930’s. An act of Congress from the God-lovin’, Commie-fearin’ 50’s mandated that the motto appear on all U.S. paper money (on which it had not hitherto appeared); a separate act of Congress proclaimed “In God We Trust” to be the official national motto of the U.S. (replacing E pluribus unum, “Out of many, one”, although E pluribus unum still appears on all U.S. coins along with “Liberty” and “IGWT”. (E pluribus unum is also on the $1 bill, as the motto is part of the Great Seal of the United States, which is depicted on the back of the bill).

Not so much offended as annoyed. But then, I don’t like the idea of pledging allegiance to a flag, either; the whole thing is vaguely annoying to me.


Not an atheist, but I just wanted to put in my side note that I am offended by an oath that has to be sworn every single day. If it has to be repeated so often, it obviously doesn’t mean much to the people swearing it.

I know that when I was in school, I never let the fact that I had sworn the Pledge that morning affect my actions throughout the day in any way whatsoever (how often do kids in school have the choice whether or not to support the Republic, after all?); I behaved the same way on a school day that I did on the weekends.

What he said…

I think it’s a damn shame that the official pledge of my country is one I cannot say in good faith. Is my allegiance to the US? Yes. Am I a good citizen? Yes. Do I follow the laws of my country and believe in its constitution? Yes. Do I vote and pay my taxes? Yes. Yet the pledge seems to be saying that I must beleive the ideal of the nation is “under God” to be a properly “allegianced” citizen. It’s a shame that a good citizen otherwise would be so excluded.

The illogic of a rational god became pretty clear to me pretty young: there were too many things wrong about my world for me to believe any kind of omniscient overseer. If he did exist, he was certainly asleep at the wheel.

So even in elementary school, I was uncomfortable about the “under god” part of the pledge. Every time we came to the bit, every morning, I felt excluded, even accused. I even felt a bit frightened: if there was a god, this god that everyone else was pledging fealty to, he had not made himself known to me: was I uniquely rejected by him? Was I really that alone? And I felt like a liar. I had to say it, I didn’t feel I had any choice. But I knew I was saying something I didn’t believe. (I didn’t go through this entire internal opera every single morning, but these were some of the thoughts that went through my head at various times, saying the pledge.)

So yeah, I’m offended by the line, and I think it’s unAmerican, according to my understanding of what “American” means, to include such a line in such a ritual. (The ritual itself is a whole 'nother discussion.)

I haven’t bothered with the pledge since the phrase was added. Although I didn’t have many occasions to say it before that either. We used to say it every morning in grade school and somehow we managed to escape imorality, or at least most of it, without pledging to be under God. Of course we did have John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, Machine Gun Kelly and the Lindberg baby kidnapping, and a number of others.

I’m not offended as much as amused that a lot of people want to make a public display of their piety despite Matthew’s proscription and furthermore want to have everyone join them in it.

And I agree with MEBuckner that it there are lot’s of more important things to do why did Congress take its valuable time with it and why do some people get so agitated that they march with Bibles to maintain it?