President Barack Obama is an absolute failure when it comes to religious liberty.
Responding to a petition of more than 5,000 signatures calling for elimination of “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance and repeal of the motto “In God We Trust,” President Obama slapped secularists in the face by saying “A sense of proportion should also guide those who police the boundaries between church and state.” (Sounds to me like a president more worried about re-election than doing the right thing.)
In over 40 years of studying the Constitution, I’ve never heard such a lame excuse for violating the First Amendment’s principle of separation of church and state. One of the reasons for America’s greatness is that we do not take a poll to see which way the wind is blowing to determine fundamental rights. Inalienable rights are inalienable.
The Supreme Court has said in numerous cases (e.g., McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky (2005)) that government may not prefer one religion over another, or religion over nonreligion. No matter what angle we look at the Pledge and the motto, “under God” and “In God We Trust” are blatant endorsements of monotheistic religion in violation of the First Amendment.
This isn’t the first time the Obama Administration has been on the wrong side of separation of church and state. He was wrong side for infusing religion into his presidential inaugural ceremony (see Newdow v. Obama, which I served as co-counsel for the plaintiffs), his Department of Justice supported displays of Christian crosses in the Mojave National Preserve and atop of Mount Soledad (Salazar v. Buono and Jewish War Veterans v. City of San Diego, respectively) and he has permitted religious discrimination in hiring in government funded social services. Internationally, puts Saudi oil ahead of religious freedom.
On the matter of religious freedom, President Obama has flunked the test of fidelity to the Constitution. So much for his having been a Con Law professor.
Bob Ritter / JM Center