What is it about fundamental Christians that they are so weak in their faith that they feel it necessary to try to work religion into every aspect of everybody's life? Is their grasp in their faith so tenuous that, like an alcoholic or a smoker, they need to encourage others to share in their acts?
Texas has a law now that requires students who attend public schools to recite the Texas Pledge (first off, how many states even HAVE their own Pledge of Allegiance: 4 besides Texas) with 4 extra words: One State, Under God. Apparently, this is to remind our students that our state is one state, under God. I don't understand the need for this, other than to pander to the religious base. But, while this may be considered a Lemon Test violation of the First Amendment (Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602, 1971), it is what follows next in the Houston Chronicle article linked above that looks more clearly to violate the First Amendment.
According to the article, the students are not *required* to recite those four extra words. Rather, students who object to saying the pledge or making the reference to God can bring a written note from home excusing them from participating. In other words, what this law does is compel the invocation of God by all students in Texas, be they Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Wiccan, Zoroastrian, or whatever. And in order to not participate, what they must do is bring attention to themselves by presenting a written waiver from home. This is nothing short of state sponsored coercion of a religion more on all students in Texas, compelling them to stay in line and follow the status quo, lest the students be alienated for thinking differently. For those who are unaware, State Sponsored Coercion of religion in public schools is also unconstitutional under the Coercion Test (from Lee v. Weisman, 505 U.S. 577, 1992).
If one disputes the intent of the law, one need just listen to the statement of State Representative Debbie Riddle, who claims it had always bothered hoer that God was omitted in the state's pledge: "Personally, I felt like the Texas pledge had a big old hole in it, and it occurred to me, 'You know what? We need to fix that. Our pledge is perfectly OK like it is with the exception of acknowledging that just as we are one nation under God, we are one state under God as well." Read differently, what Ms. Riddle says, essentially, is, "I am a Christian, and I want everyone here to follow what I hold dear and do what I want to do." This is not representative of the concept of a representative democracy, and it surely does nothing to look out for the minority from the oppression of majority.
This law was unnecessary. The phrase was unnecessary, and the compelling nature of the phrase does little more than lead toward situations not unlike Sante Fe ISD v. Doe, which resulted in a very real witch hunt for the (use your own expletive here) who objected to the recitation of a prayer at school events. While those individuals may very well have lynched the heathen who disagreed with their God, it's unlikely that objections to the new phrase in the Pledge would do so. Instead, I think we'll see a "kinder, gentler" form of hatred manifesting itself against these children who dare to believe differently.