A new documentary has been completed on the Michael Newdow case in which he challenged the words “under God” being in the Pledge of Allegiance. The documentary follows Newdow, starting after he won in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. It also touches on other recent cases concerning the separation of church and state.
Pledge of Allegiance Blues is the filmmaking effort of writer/producer/director Lisa Seidenberg. Her non-confrontational style is perfect for getting her subjects to simply be themselves and give her statements from the heart, rather than the political talking points you might expect with such controversial material.
This is a movie that any atheist or secularist will probably be glad they saw, though it leaves one with a distinct sense of the enormity of trying to push America back towards the more secular beginnings that the Founders had envisioned. Clearly the vast majority favors keeping their Lord close to their politics. One thing is quite obvious – those who want
Michael Newdow comes off as a bit of a narcissist, but in an endearing sense. He has the requisite self deprecation to pull it off. And there is no question that he is a deeply intelligent man, even while clowning for the camera. The title of the movie comes from one of the many songs Newdow wrote and sings. Questioned on his motivations, he wonders – who cares? The issue is clear, whatever anyone wants to think of his personal agenda. Having the words “under God” in the pledge of allegiance is contrary to the Constitution.
Interviews with Alan Dershowitz, Larry Flynt, Sandy Rios, Rob Schenck and many others give insights to the thoughts of all sides. It’s difficult to watch Seidenberg’s documentary without concluding that Newdow is right, even if he went about it the wrong way. Ultimately, the Supreme Court left the case without a ruling. They determined that as the non-custodial parent of the daughter who Newdow filed suit on behalf of, he lacked legal standing. It’s curious that the Court allowed the case to go as far as it did before annulling standing for Newdow. If there was lack of standing, couldn’t this have been determined prior to arguments? In any case, this leaves the issue to be revisited in the future. The news is that the future is upon us, as Newdow is now representing several parents in a similar suit and they do indeed have standing.