Tag Archives: Bill of Rights

God is Not in the U.S. Constitution or Bill of Rights

Neither God or Jesus are mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. Nor are they mentioned in the Bill of Rights. Satan also doesn’t show up. Colin McGinn was on Bill Moyers special series on Faith and Reason on PBS last night and mentioned that God is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution.

So I checked this morning and could not find God or Jesus or any of his disciples, or for that matter Satan, in the U.S. Constitution. I guess I just never looked that closely before because to hear all the debate from the right wing evangelicals and Bush conservatives I could have sworn it had to be there somewhere or what was all the fanatical noise about – like “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance.

It’s like if you don’t say “under God” when you say the Pledge of Allegiance you willl never be able to run for public office or if in public office you shall be voted out. There are probably people who think you shouldn’t even be allowed to vote, unless you believe in God.

The current President Bush’s Father, George G.W. Bush seemed to believe that, when he told an atheist that,
“No, I don’t know that Atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.”

Curiously Article VI Section (3) of the U.S. Constitution is the only reference to religion in the original Constitution and it says “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution: but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or Public Trust under the United States.

The framers of the Constitution were saying said that there shall be no test as to whether one shall be a Catholic, or a Protestant or other member of a religious community to hold office.

But wait a minute. There is also the test of public opinion. What does the Pledge of Allegiance say?

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Um, isn’t this some kind of religious test? Seems to me my very own Congressman, Jim McDermott was skewered for not saying “under God” in the past. It seems to me that some people are and have made this a religious test of sorts and that they are out of step with the U.S. Constitution. Evangelicals want people to profess support for a statement which singles out a specific belief system.

More clearly, there’s the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights. It says that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof: …”

By singling out” under God,” as distinct from eliminating this phrase and going back to the previous version before 1954, the Pledge of Allegiance is a statement affirming a specific religious belief that a Christian God exists, as distinct from other religious beliefs.

The Supreme Court has previously said that no one shall be forced to say the Pledge of Allegiance, but public pressure and ostracism awaits anyone you doesn’t. It is in fact a form of religious discrimination and bigotry.

All this pressure to recite the words, under God, in the Pledge of Allegiance are contrary to what America should represent at it’s best. It is contrary to the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It is a sign that we still have to go a lot further to go eliminate religious intolerance.

Interestingly enough but not suprisingly, there have been attempts to add God and Jesus to the US constitution. Christian attempts to amend the US Constitution occurred in 1864, 1874, 1896 and 1911.

The original version of these amendments stated “We, the people of the United States recognizing the being and attributes of Almighty God, the Divine Authority of the Holy Scriptures, the law of God as the paramount rule, and Jesus, the Messiah, the Savior and Lord of all, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and to our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Wisely Congress never passed this or similar amendments . But that doesn’t mean God didn’t creep in in other ways. For example, there is our current national moto which is printed on our money.

Wikipedia notes that “In God We Trust” is the national motto of the United States of America. It was so designated by an act of Congress in 1956 and officially supersedes “E Pluribus Unum” (Out of Many, One) according to United States Code, Title 36, Section 302. President Eisenhower signed the resolution into law on 30 July 1956.[1