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Rational Inquiry -Volume 7 Number 3

Across the Nation

Itís been a whirlwind few weeks for skeptics across America! On Monday, June 21, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declared that the Pledge of Allegiance, which has included the phrase "one nation, under God" since Congress added it in 1954, is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion in the public schools. The Council for Secular Humanism has made an official statement regarding this topic. You can read it online at http://www.secularhumanism.org/pledge.htm.

On June 26, 2002 the Senate voted 99 to 0 (one senator was not present) for Senate Resolution 292, to "Express Support for the Pledge of Allegiance." The complete text of the resolution can be read at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c107:S.RES.292:, but key points include the fact that many founding fathers of the United States government were themselves deeply religious, Francis Bellamy, author of the Pledge in 1892 was himself a Baptist minister, and that the Congress of 1954 believed it was constitutional to add the phrase "under God." By passing this resolution, the Senate also authorizes the Senateís legal counsel to actively fight to reinstate the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance (1954 version) in subsequent court battles.

On Thursday, June 27, the United States Supreme Court decided that using public funds ("school vouchers") to pay for students to enroll at private religious schools posed no Constitutional problems. Attorney General John Ashcroft praised this decision as "historic," and called it a great victory for parents and children across America. So much for what Thomas Jefferson, third US president and revered "Founding Father" said: "No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship."

On the brighter side of things, Scientific American magazine ran an article titled "15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense" in its July 2002 issue. The text of the article can be found at its web site at http://www.sciam.com. Look for it by title.



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