God's Approval Ratings Skyrocket

Oct 16, 2003 04:01 PM EDT

According to a recent Opinion Dynamics poll, when asked, more than 91 percent of Americans believe in God. Some 85 percent of Americans believe in Heaven and an afterlife, 78 percent believe in Hell and 71 percent believe in the devil. Interestingly, while America's belief in God has remained more or less steady, belief in the devil has enjoyed a strong resurgence – up 7 percent in five years – probably because so many Americans are coming face to face with such pure evil, they can no longer deny its existence.

The poll found that younger people are much more likely to believe in Hell and the devil than older people and that Republicans are more likely to believe in God than Democrats. Interestingly, the poll also found that Democrats are more likely to believe in astrology, reincarnation, ghosts and UFOs than are Republicans, by margins of 15 points.

(Hmmm ... there's got to be a message here somewhere – but maybe for another article.)

Sixty-nine percent of Americans say religion plays too small a role in people's lives today – probably because only a third of them attend church or synagogue weekly.

In any case, it would seem pretty clear – if the Opinion Dynamics poll is to be believed – that virtually all Americans believe in God. From a statistical point of view, God has much higher approval ratings among the American people than any president in history. Far more people know who God is than can name the sitting vice president of the United States, according to other recent polls.

The Supreme Court of the United States is currently hearing a lawsuit brought by a California atheist named Michael Newdow. The issue now before the court is whether it is unconstitutional for a teacher to lead students – even if they are willing – in saying the Pledge of Allegiance. Newdow argues on the grounds that the "under God" phrase violates the alleged separation of church and state law.

No one seems to note the fact that the phrase, "separation of church and state," is not found in the Constitution. It comes from a private letter written by Thomas Jefferson years later. (In the same letter Thomas Jefferson expresses his faith in Jesus Christ. Who ever notes that?)

The relevant phrase in the First Amendment being debated by the Court could not be clearer on its face. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ..." Congress has ultimate jurisdiction over constitutional matters.

And since nine in 10 Americans believe in God, it should be obvious that Congress has no cause to consider the matter – no law has been broken.

The Supreme Court is not Congress. Neither is the 9th Circuit Court that originally heard Newdow's suit and made saying the Pledge of Allegiance illegal in the nine states under its jurisdiction. If something is illegal, doesn't that necessarily mean it is against the law? In this case, what law has been broken? Does anyone remember Congress getting involved in this, which would then make it a constitutional issue?

Nine out of 10 Americans believe in God already. So what religion is "God"? Does "God" mean only the God of Abraham, Isaac and Joseph? Does "God" mean only Jesus Christ? The Bible itself refers to Satan as the "god" of this world. Islam claims Allah as "god."

The Supreme Court has determined that the practice of Satanism, as a protected religion, cannot be forbidden to convicts serving in prisons. But ironically, it is now going to hear a 9th Circuit Court ruling that says that school children who recite the Pledge of Allegiance are committing a federal crime. Why? Because the Pledge refers to God without reference to religion? In a nation in which over 90 percent of the population also believes in God and the Congress has had no input into the debate whatsoever.

No matter how many times I try and sort it out, it still comes out sounding the same way. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case because it touches a constitutional issue that makes no reference to "God"; speaks specifically to the powers of Congress that are not even an element in this case and, no matter how it is read, enjoins Congress against passing a law "establishing a religion."

Here's the part I can't quite get. Maybe I am thick. What "religion" is "God"? Is it Islam? Judaism? Hinduism? Buddhism? Christianity? Bahai? Satanism? All of these are religions. None are the same. Yet each one claims some deity it calls "god."

The first question before the Court should not be whether the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional. The Court should first establish which religion is being promoted by the Pledge of Allegiance. Then it needs to figure out what Congress has to do with it. And after that, the Court needs to carefully read the rest of the relevant clause.

It says, "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Ninety-one percent of Americans believe in God. Shall the other 9 percent establish a law that they cannot express their belief in God? That would be unconstitutional.