Tampa City Council: Atheists Must Say “Under God” or Shut Up Entirely March 6, 2010

Tampa City Council: Atheists Must Say “Under God” or Shut Up Entirely

The Atheist of Florida group has been on a mission to get the Tampa City Council to drop their pre-meeting prayers.

As this is going on, it should be noted that the council also says the Pledge of Allegiance. So how are the atheists handling that?

They say it along with everyone else. But at the relevant part, they say “One Nation, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All.” No mention of “Under God.”

And that’s apparently pissing off council members:

Council attorney Marty Shelby told [the atheists] Thursday to remain silent during that portion of the pledge if they find the words unacceptable. It’s “disruptive” when they jump directly to the “with liberty” phrase, he said. Some have said it confuses others reciting the pledge.

Council member Joseph Caetano took it further, saying he was offended that some people refused to recite the pledge appropriately.

“If they can’t, we have got to remove them,” Caetano said, while council member Charlie Miranda cast a disapproving look. “I know how you feel, Mr. Miranda. That’s not right. If they don’t like it, they should keep their mouths shut.”

Caetano doesn’t seem to realize that it’s the atheists who are getting it right — they’re sticking to the way the pledge was originally written.

Rob Curry, the executive director of the group, doesn’t see anything wrong with what his group is doing:

“It’s really a slap in the face for them to try to silence us by calling our sincere feelings disruptive,” Curry said. “That’s the way my parents learned (the pledge), my grandparents and my great-grandparents.”

There’s a simple solution to all this, of course. Just don’t say the new version of the Pledge. And don’t say your prayers before the meeting.

Just keep your religion to yourself. It’s not the government’s job to lead everyone in worship.

(Thanks to Ungullible for the link)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Karen

    I really can’t believe how ignorant some people are about the pledge of allegiance. They added words to it in the 50’s and so these days they think think it’s gospel…(erm, like the gospel?)

    I find it quite alarming when people think the continental congress started their morning chit-chats with coffee and the pledge. Seriously, do Americans really have to be this dumb? I don’t think so.

  • jemand

    @Brian, I think that was Curry speaking, defending the activities of the atheists. In which case, it is true.

  • Tim


    From how I read it I think the person saying that passage, Rob Curry, is the leader of the group of atheists who are trying to have the religious connotations removed – he’s the one saying that his (and his group’s) recitation of the pledge without mention of God is the same as his parents learned it and how his grandparents learned it, pre-1954.

  • @Brian
    Non sequitor in the extreme. Your comment implies that nobody existed before 1954.

  • @jtradke,
    You got it right, it is an appeal to tradition. But as for your rhetorical query, “Who cares how it was originally written?” I care. I care a lot.
    It was originally written in harmony with the concept of the separation of church and state and then later warped to reflect a theist mentality. If you simply mean that it illogical to state that somethings earlier placement within a timeline or chronology somehow imbues it with a special status, then, yes you are correct. However, I have a difficult time believing that Hemant is proposing a logical fallacy like that.

  • Kid A

    Personally, I think the whole notion of having a “Pledge of Allegiance” is a bit screwed up anyway (whether any “god” is mentioned or not).

    Are US Americans so insecure that they have to conform to some sort of loyalty oath all the damn time?

  • Sasha

    The high school I teach at starts every day with the Pledge – I leave out “under god” each time and come back in afterwards. The first few days the kids looked at me weirdly but now they just ignore me – like they do for most things. 😉

  • Ed L

    I agree with Kid A on this. I was in the US Army for two years and Viet Nam for one year. I’ve decided it’s no longer neccessary for me to recite The Pledge. Assuming that reciting The Pledge is an affirmation of one’s loyalty is nonsense. This is akin to the idea that placing one’s hand on The Bible before testifying in court holds one to a higher standard of truth.

  • Chas, PE SE

    Last time I led the Pledge at a meeting, I just skipped the “Under dog” part and caught up at the “Indivisible” (N.B.: I used to think it was “In the Visible”) One of my friends asked jokingly if I’d forgotten the words, but nothing else was said.
    When I’m feeling really contrary, I very quickly recite the Preamble to the Constitution under my breath.

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