Number Fifty-One

Tealiberasophoterianistic Perspectives

Yes, NBC, I accept your apology

with 34 comments

To Whom It May Concern:

I am aware of a variety of responses that people had to your decision to omit the words “under God” from the pledge allegiance aired in your US Open telecast this past weekend. Some cheered. Some seethed. I took the moment to reflect on the great power of God and the utter ineptitude of any human attempt to ignore or deny him.

As you said in your apology, it was “regrettable” if not unintentional that these words were not included in the clip you aired. Although, I would venture to guess that we have different reasons or thinking this decision was regrettable.

I know that you probably view this apology as a necessary step you must take to appease the right-wing fanatics who actually care about God and the importance of faith in society. But I can say that while your antics are not new, novel or particularly effective, it did provide a great teaching moment on the ineptitude of your failed ideology, which I am grateful for.

Your biggest failure was not that you removed the words “under God” from the pledge. Your biggest failure was that you failed to see the irony and ineptitude of removing a reference to God from an introductory clip to a telecast of a golf tournament in which that God was so immanently involved and tangibly recognized. It was delightful for me to watch the birth of a star in Rory Mcilroy and to see the world universally recognize his God-given talent. It brought me great pleasure to hear a young man attribute his success to his (traditional) family and God’s gifts of a dedicated father and mother, and take the world’s stage as the best athlete the deeply religious country of Northern Ireland has to offer.

All of this transpired and was made evident without a mention of God. I’m actually glad Mcilroy did this without saying Jesus’ name because it proves my point that not mentioning God does nothing to disprove him. Our nation, and the entire world, is under God whether we acknowledge it or not, just as young Mcilroy’s talents are a gift from God whether he mentions that fact or not.

I do feel a sense of empathy for NBC, knowing that as far as sports go, golf is probably the hardest one to remove God from. Anyone walking that course, witnessing the breathtaking beauty of the nature around them came away with a sense of God that “The Decision” to remove him from the pledge could not suppress. Natural law is a tough one to overcome, isn’t it?

As I mentioned earlier, there is nothing particularly novel about the approach. People have been failing in this way for centuries, dating back to the time when my faith was born. It wasn’t just the founding fathers of our country that believed the existence and immanence of God was “self-evident”. This is actually a cardinal teaching of the Christian faith as well.

“For what can be known about God is plain…his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived ever since the creation of the world in the things that have been made” (Romans 1:29-20).

So thank you, NBC, for proving the point you sought to deny. That beautiful clip you kept showing of the island green out on that serene lake said it all. Your regrettable decision on the pledge aside, anyone who saw the beauty of that single clip knows everything they need to know about God and has no excuse not to believe in him.

No harm done.

– Jesse Phillips


Written by Jesse Phillips

June 21, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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34 Responses

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  1. I like how you incorporated Romans 1. Well done.

    Jake Phillips

    June 21, 2011 at 2:32 pm

  2. They also removed “one nation” and “indivisible.” The phrase “under God” wasn’t even in the original pledge—it was added about sixty years later. Sure, I’m saddened when any group of people moves away from God. However, I’ve never been crazy about the pledge of allegiance. My primary allegiance isn’t to the United States.


    June 21, 2011 at 2:53 pm

  3. ‘Under God’ was officially added in the middle of the 20th century. I don’t intend to offend you, but the problem with all these right-wing open letters is that they’re constantly “defending” some “American” ideal from some perceived “threat”. The pledge itself wasn’t even written until the 19th century. Im no American history expert, but there was great division in writing the constitution towards the roll religion should play in governance, they sided with seperation. You’re free to believe in whatever form of religion you want, so why should you care whether under god is in a meaningly pledge?


    June 21, 2011 at 3:48 pm

  4. meaningless* 🙂


    June 21, 2011 at 3:49 pm

  5. By accepting their apology you are implying that you were personally wronged by their decision to omit “under God.” Is this because you are God and you felt left out, or are you saying that you were offended because they excluded language that represents what you believe about the world and the place of religion in society? If the latter is true, why can’t you see that secular people might be even more uncomfortable with a public pledge of allegiance that includes submission to God? The reason to omit “under God” (ignoring the reasons it was added in the first place) is to avoid excluding anyone from the pledge because of their philosophical position. I’m not a huge fan of allegiance pledges in general, but the use of “under God,” at this point, is saying that patriotism is reserved for those who follow some kind of monotheistic religion, and that is totally against the best part of what this country stands for.


    June 21, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    • James,

      It wasn’t necessarily that I was personally offended. I kind of laughed at the futility of ignoring God in light of how he was so clearly evident to anyone just looking at beautiful golf course. The apology they issued was more of a statement that they regretted doing it, and that’s the statement I agreed with or “accepted” so to speak.

      To your question of “under God.” My belief is that we are under God whether we admit it or not. So I think the pledge is true which is why I support it even if it makes some people uncomfortable.

      Is it possible to live without making each other uncomfortable? The very idea of a free society is that we are free to exchange ideas that may be uncomfortable to others. Whether you choose to keep the words and make the people who don’t believe in God uncomfortable, or eliminate the words and make people who think there is a God uncomfortable, either way, somebody is uncomfortable.

      The idea is that without unnecessarily offending people to keep our public policy in keeping with natural law, which for centuries has led people to in general believe that there is some God of some sort which is to varying degrees involved in nature and the affairs of men. The pledge reflects that commonly held belief, IMHO.

      Jesse P.

      June 21, 2011 at 4:46 pm

      • What makes a gold course more ‘godly’ than say, a highway, or a library? I fail to see the irony that God is more ‘present’ at a sporting event than at any other time of the day.


        June 21, 2011 at 5:05 pm

  6. Jesse,

    I think the strength of your letter, as I stated previously, is how Romans 1 was borne out in the coverage of the US Open. However, given all the reasons stated before, I think my three amigos have a valid point. Unlike James, I see no reason why people who do not follow a monotheistic religion would be offended. If they think that monotheistic conceptions of God are all wrong, they should have no problem invoking his non-existent name, just in case. Just like atheist soldiers don’t mind when their fellow soldiers pray before battles, and just like Jonah was thrown over the side of a boat :). By the same token, however, as a Christian, I don’t see any reason why “Under God” HAS to be included, and that I should get offended if it has not. As one point in our country it was said, at another point it wasn’t. Although there was a social context and reason that it was added, it’s inclusion or exclusion has not directly influenced the level of religion in this country.

    Jake Phillips

    June 21, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    • My belief in “under God” is not a Christian belief, per se, but one that flows out of my understanding as an American of natural law, what that infers about God and how that forms the principles of our government and freedom.

      “We hold these truths to be self-evident…that all men are…endowed by their creator…”

      Jesse P.

      June 21, 2011 at 4:48 pm

      • The Declaration says nothing about our rights secured by Christianity. The Declaration states: “Governments are instituted among men.” The mentioning of God in the Declaration does not describe the God of Christianity. Thomas Jefferson who held deist beliefs, wrote the majority of the Declaration. The Declaration describes “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.”

        Further, Thomas Jefferson wrote in Declaration of Indepndence that the power of the government is derived from the governed. Up until that time, it was claimed that kings ruled nations by the authority of God. The Declaration was a radical departure from the idea of divine authority. NOTE: Thomas Jefferson’s original wording for the Declaration was: “All men are created equal and independent. From that equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable.” Congress changed that phrase, increasing its religious overtones: “All men are created equal. They are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights”, thinking that would make a more convincing argument to the king.

        Also, interesting to note the quotes from Jefferson on “common law”

        “… the common law existed while the Anglo-Saxons were yet pagans, at a time when they had never yet heard the name of Christ pronounced or knew that such a character existed.”
        — Thomas Jefferson, letter to Major John Cartwright, June 5, 1824

        “Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the common law.”
        — Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814, responding to the claim that Christianity was part of the Common Law of England, as the United States Constitution defaults to the Common Law regarding matters that it does not address


        June 21, 2011 at 10:27 pm

  7. Reminds me of Braveheart:
    William Wallace: Never, in my whole life, have I ever sworn allegiance to him.
    Royal Magistrate: It matters not. He is your King.

    Is this what we want our country to become? I’m honestly more offended that they aired the pledge AT ALL before the US Open. What’s the point? It’s not like our government cares about “liberty and justice for all” anyway. Let’s just get rid of the whole thing and stop kidding ourselves.


    June 21, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    • it’s a uniquely American trait to pledge to the flag any time more than five people get together.


      June 21, 2011 at 4:28 pm

      • I did not know this, but I will get on board right away. Please forgive me, NSA. Don’t patriot act my family.


        June 21, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    • Jason,

      This is somewhat of a ridiculous argument. First, from a historical standpoint, the USA was unique is the level of freedom, the level of liberty and justice, that it afforded it’s citizens (no need to bring up Indians and African-Americans, I know how we treated them.) You’re issue is with social issues, not the construct of the government.

      As far as being offended by the reading of the Pledge, this is also somewhat ridiculous. Contrary to what Jack said, most countries recite some sort of patriotic document before sporting events, typically the national anthem. Are you offended that Canadian/European/American/everyone sings their countries national anthem before all sporting events? What if they had sung the national anthem instead of reciting the pledge of allegiance before the US open? I agree that our allegiance is ultimately reserved for someone and somewhere else, by the way.

      Jake Phillips

      June 21, 2011 at 5:03 pm

      • I retract everything I say if your problem is unique to the Pledge. I will admit at that point that your argument is not ridiculous.

        Jake Phillips

        June 21, 2011 at 5:05 pm

      • My problem is with the pledge. I’ll sing my school’s fight song. I won’t pledge allegiance to them. And no, I don’t believe the US provides liberty and justice for all, but that is a big issue and better left for another day.


        June 21, 2011 at 5:16 pm

      • I am afraid that your statement is not correct, a pledge of allegiance and a national anthem are not the same (one you recite, the other you sing, some national anthems don’t even have words, for example). Every country typically has a national anthem, but only a handful of countries have a pledge (3 I found online). When school children start their day, in most every other country, no pledge or anthem is recited, nor do flags adorn each classroom.

        I was first very suprised upon moving to America to find that the pledge is not only recited everyday, but also at minor sporting events and community meetings – America, in this respect, is quite unique. And in response to your question, I would view the singing of national anthems to be much more appropriate for an international sporting event than the pledge. Plus, it IS offensive to have only the hosting country sing a natonal anthem, it doesn’t work that way (not sure how the U.S open was).


        June 21, 2011 at 5:26 pm

      • Jack,

        Well said. I can’t find much to argue with. I guess the argument would be, is it wrong that America is more patriotic than other countries?

        I believe, however, in international sporting events, usually both national anthems are sung. I know in hockey games between US and Canadian teams, both anthems are sung. You know more about football (soccer) than I do, so I guess you would know if they sing both national anthems before those games (matches, friendlies, whatever they are called.)

        Jake Phillips

        June 21, 2011 at 5:32 pm

  8. I may be misreading Jesse, but the merits of the pledge itself didn’t seem to be something he cares about. The fact that NBC cherry picked one line in the pledge to omit from its airing of the pledge is the issue. Why air the pledge at all if you are that concerned about offending people? If you are going to put it on the air, do the whole thing. If atheists or polytheists freak out…they can relax, knowing that they are free to believe whatever they want in this country.


    June 21, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    • This is a nonissue. They didn’t only cut “under God.” Like I said before, they also removed “one nation” and “indivisible.” You’re assuming NBC was concerned about offending people. Maybe it was just an editing decision by the team that created the video.


      June 21, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    • That’s a bit illogical. If we replaced ‘God’ with ‘Allah’ -even though they mean the same thing- christians would certainly freak out. Or maybe we could be more vague, like ‘One nation, under some form of omnipresent form or not under one at all,’ since according to your logic they can relaxing, knowing they are free to believe whatever they want.

      To err on the side of caution isn’t such a bad thing.


      June 21, 2011 at 4:42 pm

      • relax* man I need to proofread before I post ha.


        June 21, 2011 at 4:45 pm

      • Jack,

        I think I might disagree with this assertion. Whatever their linguistic qualities, “God” means something far more broad than “Allah.” Allah means something unique. It would be more equivalent to if it read “under Jesus.” After all, everyone pretty much agrees that Jesus existed and was a great guy, so the name doesn’t have to mean to everyone what Christians believe it means.

        Jake Phillips

        June 21, 2011 at 4:58 pm

      • Allah is the word used by Muslims for God, the same God christians believe in. Using your analogy, Jesus is more on par with Muhammad. Which is event more unlikely than ‘under Jesus.’

        My point is, you can’t use the word God and simply say, “well we live in a free country, you can believe whatever you want.” When in turn, you wouldn’t tolerate it if it were replaced with a word you dissagree with.


        June 21, 2011 at 5:12 pm

      • Ok, that makes more sense. I still disagree in the sense that “Allah” is specific to a particular religion in a way that “God” is not. God, linguistically, is more generic. And historically, people don’t mind a generic “God” as much as they do Jesus, Allah, Yahweh or any other more particular form of God.

        (Mohammed didn’t claim to be God, as Jesus did. That’s why I don’t count him.)

        Jake Phillips

        June 21, 2011 at 5:29 pm

      • Well, I suppose at this point we’re just discussing the frivolous nature of language. But the word God is no more generic than Allah, especially when you consider they are the same in three religions. We have to be more open-minded, especially as history majors . God with a capital G is a proper noun, it refers to one particular god, that is, the Christian god. Just as Allah is capitalized because it refers to one particular person.

        Anyway, grammar aside, if you were to replace ‘under God’ with any other statement that showed equal religious leanings to any other religion, Christians would be upset. I’m not usually for senseless political correctness, but there’s no point pretending ‘under God’ isn’t a reference to the Christian God, or that its broad in any sense of the word.


        June 21, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    • Joey is right. It was a clear attempt to remove God from the pledge. I was simply pointing out the irony of doing that in a golf tournament context that so manifestly celebrates creation, order, creativity and the gifts of athleticism he gives in varying degrees (in this case in great degree to young Mcilroy)

      Jesse P.

      June 21, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    • I agree, they can. You are correct. Christians can also relax if they don’t say “under God”, knowing that they are also free to believe whatever they want.

      Jake Phillips

      June 21, 2011 at 4:59 pm

      • BOOM


        June 21, 2011 at 5:01 pm

  9. Jack,

    I don’t think the issue is over whether God was “more present”, but that Golf, because it is situated in beautiful, outdoor areas, lends itself to showing the beauty of a creator moreso than say, a basketball court, or a highway :).

    Jake Phillips

    June 21, 2011 at 5:26 pm

  10. The underlying debate here, isn’t about the pledge at public sporting events. This specific example is just a tangent of the real argument about this pledge being said on a daily basis in public schools. For the pledge to be used this way is, in some sense, for the government to pick a side in a philosophical debate.


    June 21, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    • James,

      I agree. I also think that it’s a pointless debate. In other words, I don’t know that I agree with you that the government is picking a side in a philosophical debate, at least not if the context is the historical question of seperating church and state. Giving a generic deity credit has not historically broken the American concept of the seperation of church and state. So I don’t see that anyone should be anymore upset with “under God” than they should be that Jefferson said “creator” in the declaration of Independence, or any of other countless examples, conservative and liberal, radical and mainstream, etc. etc. And, like I’ve said, by that same token, given the more specific history of the pledge of allegiance, I don’t see how any monotheists should be upset by the lack of “under God.”

      Jake Phillips

      June 21, 2011 at 6:04 pm

  11. Ellen,

    I’m not talking about the Christian faith. As evidence of this, I refer you to my opening line above:

    “my belief in ‘under God’ is not a Christian belief”

    I am referring to natural law, a commonly held belief by Christians and non-Christians alike that you can look at creation and infer….

    A. That there is a creator who made it all
    B. Certain characteristics of that creator
    C. Some obligations we as creatures have to that creator and to each other

    You might not agree, but this is NOT a uniquely Christian belief. It’s a belief that wad held by both our Christian and non-Christian founders, and (especially point C.) formed the basis of our law.

    Jesse Phillips

    June 22, 2011 at 12:27 am

  12. “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” —Thomas Jefferson


    June 22, 2011 at 1:03 pm

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