Kenneth Davis reflects on the religious liberty advocated by the founders and Newdow’s case against the pledge:
But more important than the founders’s private faith was the concept that they all embraced passionately: the freedom to practice religion, as well as not to. They had risked their lives to free America from a country with an official religion and a king who claimed a divine right. They believed that government’s purpose was to protect people’s earthly rights, not their heavenly fates. As for Jefferson, he wrote that it made no difference to him whether his neighbor affirmed one God or 20, since, he added, “It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
It was this concept ? that the government should neither enforce, encourage or otherwise intrude on religion ? that found its way into the godless Constitution in the form of the First Amendment. Even the presidential oath of office, which is laid out in the Constitution, does not mention the deity. George Washington ad libbed the “So help me God” at his inaugural ceremony. Every president since has added this personal oath. They choose to say it; the Constitution does not compel it.
The Supreme Court may embrace Dr. Newdow’s passionate plea, side with “under God” or split 4-4 and leave the lower court ruling alone, and it won’t pick our pockets or break our legs. But the sight of one man standing up to challenge God and country is something that Madison, Jefferson and Franklin would cheer, and every American can celebrate.