Chronicling the follies of religion and superstition, the virtues of skepticism, and the wonders of the real (natural) universe as revealed by science. Plus other interesting and educational stuff.
"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."
“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.
“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”
The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.
(CNN) — Seventy one years ago — December 22, 1942 — Congress got the United States out of what had turned into an unexpectedly embarrassing situation.
It concerned the Pledge of Allegiance — specifically, something called the Bellamy Salute.
Most people today have likely never heard of it, but the Bellamy Salute was once a constant part of the country’s life.
Until 1892, there was no such thing as a Pledge of Allegiance.
Daniel Sharp Ford, the owner of a magazine called Youth’s Companion, was on a crusade to put American flags in every school in the country. He sensed that the U.S. needed a boost of patriotism. Keep in mind: Not even 30 years before, the Civil War had still been raging. National unity was a fragile concept.
As part of the campaign, Sharp gave an assignment to a member of his staff: Francis J. Bellamy, who was an author, a minister and an advocate of the tenets of Christian socialism. Sharp asked Bellamy to compose a Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. Bellamy wrote it, and it was published in the magazine.
It didn’t take long for the Pledge to become wildly popular, even omnipresent. At schools, at campgrounds, at public gatherings, in Congress, people routinely faced the flag and pledged their allegiance to it.
Because, inherently, there is something physically awkward about people simply standing in place, their arms hanging limply by their sides, staring at a flag and reciting a pledge, it was decided that devising a salute would be appropriate.
Instructions for carrying out the salute were printed in the pages of Youth’s Companion. The gesture came to be called the Bellamy Salute, in honor of the Pledge’s author.
The Bellamy Salute consisted of each person — man, woman or child — extending his or her right arm straight forward, angling slightly upward, fingers pointing directly ahead.
With their right arms aiming stiffly toward the flag, they recited: “I pledge allegiance…”
For a while, the salute wasn’t especially controversial.
But, as World War II was forming in Europe, and Italians and Germans began saluting Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler with extended-armed “Heil Hitler!”-style gestures…
Well, perhaps you can see the problem.
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Pennsylvania public school districts would be required to post “In God We Trust” in every school building under legislation that advanced out of a committee in the state House of Representatives this week.
The bill sponsored by Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Allegheny, passed the House Education Committee on Wednesday by a 14-to-9 vote, with only one Democrat and one Republican crossing party lines.
The National Motto Display Act, as it is titled, credits James Pollock, a 19th century Pennsylvania governor, for putting the term on coins while serving as director of the U.S. Mint. The measure would require schools to post it by using a mounted plaque, student artwork or some other form.
Saccone said the motto would fit well with the state’s local history curriculum and appears to be widely supported by his constituents.
“It’s 500-to-1 back home, people are for it,” he said Thursday, adding that he believed it also would pass the Legislature overwhelmingly.
“I’m sure the media’s going to try to beat it down,” he said. “That’s par for the course.”
Saccone is a Baptist who also sponsored a “day of prayer” resolution in the House earlier this year to make April 30 “National Fast Day.” It was patterned after a similar designation by President Abraham Lincoln 150 years ago.
During the committee hearing, he said, opponents raised questions about whether the measure would withstand a court challenge and concerns that it might trivialize the motto.
“This isn’t about evangelizing,” Saccone said. “This is about celebrating our national motto.”
“In God We Trust” became the national motto under a 1956 law signed by President Dwight Eisenhower.
Janice Rael, vice president of the Delaware Valley chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said the proposal promotes religion over the absence of religion. She opposes the proposal.
“The last time I checked, God was religious,” Rael said. “The government should be neutral, and with this legislation the government is not neutral, the government is taking a position.”
I am just blown away by what guys spend they legislative time on. This is their nonsense idea to help our ailing schools? Bring back E Pluribus Unum as the national motto and put that up for kids to see. That’s actually a message worth teaching them. Out of many, one; as opposed to In God We Trust, which is essentially the opposite sentiment.
Edgar Watson Howe… (via quotedojo)