"I say leave it in," said Jessica Pena. At Hutchinson Junior High Wednesday afternoon the sentiment towards the phrase "Under God" was unanimous. "I believe that is the base of what our country was built on," said parent Maria Parsons.
"Most people don't realize that before the 50's, God wasn't in the pledge of allegiance," says ACLU spokesman Harvey Madison. For him, the separation of church and state takes precedence. "Most of the founding fathers understood that when you mix religion and government you are going to have conflict," he said.
Conflict personified last week at an Idalou football game. Complaints about prayers over the loudspeakers, Baptists responding with vociferous T-shirts. "We are tired as Christians of them telling us what we can and can't do," said Pastor Alan Berry.
"If the aggressive religious folks could simply settle for building as many churches as they want, running as many ads as they want in the paper, preaching on the street corner anywhere they want, that's their freedom, that's their right. When you recruit the government to help you inflict your religious beliefs on unwilling others, then that violates the constitutional separation of church and state," said Madison.
The high court isn't expected to hear the deity dilemma until next year, plenty of time for earthly debate. "The most conservative position is to go back to the original version which did not have God in it," said Madison. "Well, if the ACLU wants to make up their own pledge, they can make up their own pledge," smiled Parsons.