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Many people know Pat Boone as America’s dialysis machine for black music — a singing semi-permeable membrane designed to filter out the harmful authenticity from rhythm and blues so it can be consumed safely, without the danger of innocent white teenagers going into cultural toxic shock.  In the process, Pat, much like Elvis, pioneered an entirely new style of music — Rhythm and Blue Rinse.  But fewer people are aware that Boone is also a Constitutional scholar of some note (b-sharp, specifically).

Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

How profoundly simple, how elegantly clear and understandable can you get? Our Founding Fathers labored and conferred and, yes, prayed, over this First Amendment to our hallowed Constitution. They honed and pared and polished it, until it still shines like a rare diamond.

Although nowadays it’s kind of a conflict diamond, but still…

It says exactly and precisely what they intended.

Whereas the rest of the Bill of Rights is crammed full of code words, puzzles and Easter eggs.

How is it, then, that today, certain people are straining and misrepresenting and actually twisting it completely out of its pristine meaning?

In fact, I’m not sure why we even have a judicial branch.  It’s not as though the Constitution is open to interpretation; the thing’s about as nuanced as a Stop sign.

A man named Newdow, in San Francisco, adamantly quotes just the first phrase, before the comma, in his diabolical quest to wrench the two words “under God” out of our Pledge of Allegiance.

And as every schoolboy knows, the Pledge was so sacred to the Founders that it’s practically the first part of the Constitution they wrote, right after that song explaining how a bill becomes a law.

Though he is trained as a lawyer, supposedly able to interpret the wording of a law – certainly including the wording of the Constitution – he manages to convince a majority of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that he is correct in claiming that those two words might be unconstitutional!

He managed to persuade the Court of Appeals that his legal argument had merit, despite the handicap of being a lawyer?  That’s amazing!  It’s a triumph of the human spirit!  I smell a Lifetime movie…

And that misguided Court then decrees that school children in nine Western states should stop including those words in the Pledge we’ve all been saying since 1954.

Those kids are pretty old to still be in school — how many times have they been held back?  Anyway, Pat makes a good point, if only by passive example.  Since he was born in 1934, he grew up reciting the pledge without the words “under God,” which would suggest that if you don’t learn the Cold War-era version as a child, you’ll grow up to be a sanctimonious drama queen.

When I confronted Newdow personally on the “Crossfire” TV show, I asked him if he was aware of the next phrase in the Amendment, and why he stopped short of quoting that? He stammered and mumbled something unrelated to my question. And then, when I asked, “You’re aware, aren’t you, that your atheism is a religion, a faith system based on a premise you can’t prove – while the faith system of most Americans is based on a premise the evidence for which is everywhere?”

He answered defensively, “Well, I’m not trying to force my belief on others.” And I shot back “Are you serious? What do you call what you’re doing? You’re trying to silence 99 percent of America because you – one man – don’t believe our affirmation! You’re not trying to force your belief on us?”

Pat appears to be referring to an appearance he made on October 10, 2002.  But despite the passage of time, and Pat’s advancing years, his memory retains its razor-sharp, Rashomon-like quality, as witnessed by the transcript:

NEWDOW: It’s the First Amendment. It says, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. If they make a law that respects an establishment of religion, they’re not allowed to do it. They make the laws, but they’re supposed to abide by the constitution.

BEGALA: Pat, go ahead. You wanted to respond?

BOONE: I’d say he left out part of that First Amendment, and I understand why. Congress shall make no laws respecting the establishment of religion nor restricting the free exercise thereof.

That’s the rest of that phrase.

NEWDOW: And that’s why you can write a song about God and have as much fun as you want. But the government can’t. That’s what you have to keep separate.


BOONE: Can I — We’ve heard from him. Can I just quote from, and you quoting from the socialist.

Let me quote from the first chief justice of the Supreme Court, and one of the three major writers of the constitution, John Jay. These are his words: “Providence has given to our people the choice of their leaders, their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest, of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”

Now, this was the chief justice of the Supreme Court who helped write the Constitution itself.

Who do you suppose knows a little more about what the Constitution intended?

BEGALA: Well, you aren’t suggesting that we should only vote for Christians as our leaders? I voted for Joe Lieberman for vice president and he got more votes than Dick Cheney. And I think he’s perfectly fit. You aren’t suggesting…

BOONER: No, I’m not suggesting that. I’m quoting the chief justice, the first chief justice of the Supreme Court and one of the guys, one of the three guys along with Adams and Jefferson who wrote, and Monroe, who wrote the Constitution.

NEWDOW: Which doesn’t say anything about Christianity or God.

BEGALA: Jefferson was over in France, actually. He didn’t have anything to do with…

BOONE: They know what they intended.

BEGALA: What they wrote into it was — let me let Michael Newdow jump into this.

NEWDOW: If Pat Boone wants to praise and God and tell us that Christians are great, that’s fine. The government can’t tell us that. That’s all.
BOONE: He is preaching a religion, his atheism, is a belief system concerning God. He believes God doesn’t exist. He can’t prove it. So he has to take that by faith. We believe he does exist.

NEWDOW: I agree 100 percent. But the question is: Why should government come in on your side? Why doesn’t government just stay out of the business?

BOONE: It’s not a matter of government.

BEGALA: That is where we’re going to have to leave the debate.

Pat never got a chance to explain why the First Amendment is “not a matter of government,” and Paul Begala cut him off before he actually had time to “[shoot] back ‘Are you serious? What do you call what you’re doing? You’re trying to silence 99 percent of America because you – one man – don’t believe our affirmation! You’re not trying to force your belief on us?’”  And that’s a shame, because the Pat of 2009 really retroactively tears the Michael Newdow of 2002 a new one.  In fact, I’d recommend any liberal think twice before taking on Pat Boone in a debate, because he will totally school your ass, providing he has seven years to think of a snappy comeback.

Speaking of school, Pat was apparently absent the day they covered the Pledge in Civics class:

BEGALA:  But first, as a liberal, let me salute you for praising the work of the Rev. Francis Bellamy, who was a socialist one-worlder. I didn’t know Pat Boone was plugging a socialist one-worlder’s work.

PAT BOONE, SINGER: Well, you’ll have to clue me in. I don’t know what you’re talking about.

BEGALA: Rev. Francis Bellamy, in 1892, wrote the “Pledge of Allegiance.” He was a Baptist minister and a socialist who most famous sermon was entitled “Jesus the Socialist.”

He saw this as a unifying thing for the world, not just the United States of America.

BOONE: Well, I do then praise him for his crowning achievement, the “Pledge of Allegiance.” I do.

BEGALA: And so you’ve become a proponent of the one-world socialism. Make some news here on CROSSFIRE.

BOONE: No, no, no, no, no. Far from it, in fact. But no, if he wrote it, and I was not aware of that, but I accept it and I’m — and I congratulate him. It’s a great peace of Americana.

That’s the great thing about a steadfast devotion to God and Country — it’s so flexible.  When you’re fighting diabolical heathens for the soul of the Union, the Pledge is the lifeblood of liberty; and when someone is tactless enough to bring up its Socialist origins in mixed company, it’s a quaint bit of folklore.

Of course, the malevolent ACLU, like legally trained Storm Troopers, prowls the whole United States trying to tear every religious symbol or statement out of the public square and out of our public life.


School children reciting the Pledge while performing the traditional “Bellamy salute” to the flag.  This gesture later became awkward during World War II.

And if we’re going to hunt down the Nazi paralegals and carve crucifixes in their foreheads, we’re going to need to arm ourselves with the deepest and most thoughtful constitutional scholarship available.  Luckily, Pat has offered to perform a probing exegesis on the First Amendment, taking the Establishment Clause apart, letter by letter.  Even the weirdly elongated S’s.

First, “Congress.” That’s our federal, elected governing body. Not “state” or “county” or “city.” Congress shall make no law … repeat and emphasize no law … that means literally no law at all, pro or con. No law.

OK so far?

“Respecting.” That’s concerning, pertaining to … “an establishment.” Establishing means creating, mandating, bringing into being, making permanent.

So the meaning is incontrovertibly clear: The U.S. Congress shall make no laws at all pertaining to mandating, enforcing, or making permanent any religion.  Religion is absolutely off limits, legislatively nonexistent, to our national government.

You know, I never really gave it much thought before, but Pat’s right!  Where does Congress get off sprinkling the word “God” onto our money and loyalty oaths, when God is like the CIA’s Blackbriar Program in the Bourne movies — officially, He doesn’t exist!  Somebody ought to take these clowns to court!

Jefferson stressed the original intent of the framers of the Bill of Rights. And they, of course, just to make their intent abundantly clear, added the next phrase, “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  [...]

That includes license plates.  Amazingly, USA Today (Oct. 13) reports the slugfest between folks in more than 24 states over the simple phrase “Choose Life” on their license plates! Planned Parenthood is vehement, threatened and rabid about that phrase being seen on the back of somebody’s car – and have instituted court cases against that vile expression across the country. Five U.S. circuit courts have already ruled on the matter, each coming to different conclusions.

What part of the First Amendment don’t they understand?

Probably the part that prohibits the government from issuing license plates, leaving it to each American motorist to craft his own with a Sharpie, a piece of scrap cardboard, and a spirit of rugged individualism.  After all, history tells us that Jefferson himself refused to recognize the right of Virginia to license his barouche, and was known to travel about Washington, D. C. with no ornamentation whatsoever on the after end of his carriage, save for a single bumpersticker that read, “My Other Ride Is My Slave.”

34 Responses to “Sunday Sermonette: Pat Boone For The New Lemon Pledge Of Allegiance”

Peerless as ever. Pat Boone lying for Jeebus who’d a thunk it.

I love how he references the Founding Fathers…and then doesn’t even hide that he knows the words were inserted in 1954.

That’s mojo you can trust, right there.

“Pat, much like Elvis” Never give your opinion on any topic relating to popular music again.

Atheism is a religeon-you can’t prove God doesn’t exist?
I dunno…on the one hand, the fact that Pat made more money off his treacly versions of R&B songs than the original artists did raises doubts about His existance.
But on the other hand, the fact that he hasn’t had a hit in almost 50 years and is, almost universally, recognized as a talentless hack and a raving loon makes me think thjat perhaps God does exist but has a warped sense of humour.
And then, on the other hand-Elvis died 32 years ago and PAT’S STILL HERE WASTING PRECIOUS OXYGEN AND PUBLIC AIRTIME, so…draw your own conclusions, I guess.

I’m always thinking of a great comeback days or months later…but I can’t seem to convince myself that I actually made it. Pat’s one up on me.

“My other ride is my slave.” Beautiful.

From “America’s dialysis machine for black music” to “My Other Ride is My Slave”–

Goddayum, Scott, it’s just your bestest ever.

Incidentally, I noticed that despite having been wised up by Begala years ago, Booner still thinks Jefferson wrote the Constitution.

Chris, wingnuts lie, all the time, even when proven wrong, even when there’s no practical reason to lie.
I mean, look at Ann Coulter-she lies about even really stupid shit.
But we might also consider the very real possibility that Pat Boone is senile. Although I’m not sure how we’d be able to TELL.

I want to know what zingers Pat now thinks he said to Michael Moore in _Roger and Me_. That was 20 years ago, so le mot juste should be just about ready.

Incidentally, John Jay, first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (from 1789 until his resignation–to become governor of New York, as a relative indicator of the importance of his utterances from the bench–1795, roughly eight years before the Court would decide it had actual Constitutional powers), was not a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. He was author of five of the Federalist papers; Hamilton and Madison wrote the other eighty. I was about to say this is what confused Boone, but it’s impossible to get a baseline reading for comparison.

it has been all downhill for pat since he was flung out a volcano and landed naked in a tree in Journey to the Center of the Earth

A man named Newdow, in San Francisco, adamantly quotes just the first phrase, before the comma,

Hmm, there’s another amendment right after the first one that people do pretty much the same thing to, except they quote just the last part of the phrase while excluding the first. It’s on the tip of my tongue, what the hell was that amendment about???

distributorcap, I prefer to think the volcano puked him up.

“…I was not aware of that…”

Here, Begala just taught Pat what the kidz mean by the word “pwned”.

For some reason this reminded me of Letterman’s deadpan response to a Paul Shaffer zinger.

Hey, Scott, what’s the source of that pic of the schoolkids saluting? I was taking a closer look, and it sorta looks like the children might be Native American – and the fact that a least one or two of the boys are wearing jeans may be a clue that the school is outside a major metro area.

When I was coming up thru public school systems in two successive suburbs (of Minneapolis/St. Paul, then of NYC) in the 50s and 60s, jeans were not allowed, being considered work clothes and not proper for school wear. The wearing of jeans by “rocks” in the early R&R era was part of their image of dangerous rebelliousness (cf “The Wild Ones”, “Blackboard Jungle”, The Fonz – - whichever you prefer).

It’s hard to believe that this salute was used anywhere in the US during or after WW2 – but the clothes have a 50s-ish look. Conundrum. Is it possible that a Reservation school might have used such a salute to more strongly impose loyalty to the US Govt on kids who might still be owing some fealty to their own culture, against the odds?

I remember the changeover to “under God”. I also remember a Jehovah’s Witness boy in my jr. high who never said the Pledge or did any kind of salute. He’d stand with the rest of us and remain silent. By the time I was 13 or so I was silently leaving out “under God” myself, or that’s how I remember it. But Pat and me, ya know, we’re kinda gettin’ on…

Elvis didn’t do wot Pat did to R&B, though. His powerful naive talent was warped and spoiled after a while by the Bitch Goddess Success and her henchman, Col. Tom Parker. But there’s no relation between, say, Elvis’ “That’s All Right, Mama” and PB’s castration of Little Richard sides. (WHY Little Richard, of all people! Maybe the challenge of the full 180-degree turn required to make screamin’ Black masterpieces saleable to members of White Citizens Council Youth Gruppen?) The 50s were very weird, a sort of giant cultural San Andreas Fault.

Pat Boone once made Chuck Norris look intellectually honest for ten minutes… just to prove it could be done.

Li’l, the image came from the Pledge of Allegiance page on Wikipedia. The source of the photo appears to be this page from a piece called “The Rise of American Fascism.”

James Madison, Pat, James Madison.

(But he was married to Dolley, which may have been a stage name for some drag queen he picked up on a coach ride through Baltimore. Who knows? They’re all dead anyway.)

Pat Boone is an asshole, but I don’t believe he’s ever actually killed any drag queens, Dr. DRE.

“You’re aware, aren’t you, that your atheism is a religion, a faith system based on a premise you can’t prove – while the faith system of most Americans is based on a premise the evidence for which is everywhere?”

Wow, brilliant theology. Pat’s convinced me! I’m joining the Mormon Church tomorrow!

“You’re trying to silence 99 percent of America because you – one man – don’t believe our affirmation! You’re not trying to force your belief on us?”

So,99 percent of the U.S. population are right wing Evangelicals? Then how have the Liberals been able to cause so much trouble?

Then how have the Liberals been able to cause so much trouble?

We’ve got God on our side.

Fun to read this, though I got tripped up at the Elvis reference. You might just as well have mentioned Dylan. It would be just as inappropriate. Neither Elvis nor Dylan ever sang “Speedy Gonzales.”

On the one hand the right wing evangelicals characterise themselves as a victimized minority, but on the other hand they also claim to represent 99% of the American population. But this kind of logical disjuncture is no obstacle to a man of faith. Another example is the argument that “atheism is a religion”. Although it has been effectively demolished, deep sixed, laid waste to, smashed, vaporised, hung, drawn and quartered, Pat and his ilk insist on dragging the decomposing corpse from the grave and parading it around town proclaiming “it lives!”

Pat once killed the truth in Reno, just to watch it die…

Is Pat aware that Thomas Jefferson wrote his own Bible?

He might not like it very much…

Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814

And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerve in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors.
-Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823

I’m quoting the chief justice, the first chief justice of the Supreme Court and one of the guys, one of the three guys along with Adams and Jefferson who wrote, and Monroe, who wrote the Constitution.

Pat seems a little confused counting up to three. Or maybe he was giving this a pass through the dialysis machine.
Our chief weapon is surprise…surprise and fear…fear and surprise…. our two weapons are fear and surprise…and ruthless efficiency…. Our three weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency…and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope…. Our four…no… amongst our weapons…. amongst our weaponry…are such elements as fear, surprise…. I’ll come in again.

And Scott, I gotta side with those who think you did Elvis an injustice (at least the Elvis of the 50s).

I don’t get the logic of how specific Founding Fathers expressing personal religious beliefs validates government-imposed religious ceremonies! All of the Founders literally dicked around and nobody argues that there should be public fornication and government-sponsored orgies !

All of the Founders literally dicked around and nobody argues that there should be public fornication and government-sponsored orgies !

At the risk of having people request my newsletter, I’d like to take a moment to argue just that. Because that would be awesome. And adding to to the health care bill might even get it passed.

With respect to Bill S., when a wingnut reaches the 33rd level of Wingnut Mastery, he no longer needs to lie. He can just describe his own reality, and the rest of us are supposed to agree. In PB’s world, Jefferson wrote the Constitution, never edited the Word O’God, and agrees with PB on everything.

hmm… I agree and disagree, mostly with your insinuations on the roles of federal government as opposed to anything else.

While it is true that the federal government is not supposed to pass any laws with regards to religion, that does not mean that states or municipalities cannot.

What doesn’t make any sense to me, is why so many people want to force their opinions on everyone else. If you’re not happy with something then change it, but why in the world would you care if other people chose to live a different way somewhere else? As long as they are not harming anyone, what is it any of your business?

I grew up saying the pledge of allegiance in school, it didn’t make me religious in anyway. If other people want to say in god, who cares? It’s not as if you can get in trouble for not saying it in school.

A more important issue is how and why did we let so few people in one area of the country manage all of our schools anyway? I think the average 5th grader in Finland can Ace our high school regents, in English- their second language.

Why don’t we work on taking responsibility for our own actions and do a lot less worrying about what your fellow citizen’s kid 3,000 miles away says every morning before trying to figure out ways to avoid school/work, get high, act like a gangster, or get laid.

Doesn’t anyone else see the ridiculousness? I feel like there is a house on fire, and people are arguing about what style wallpaper to hang up in the living room.

I also am I big fan of Thomas Jefferson and it bothers me when people mention slavery with a negative connotation toward Jefferson.

He tried to abolish slavery 4 times, and in his notes you can read where he decided that it wasn’t the right time, and that it was more important to first teach the nation of freedom so abolishing slavery would be accepted and to avoid war.

D. Sidhe — Please argue away ! I also observe that the Constitution does not expressly prohibit such activities, in contrast to the religious variety.

What doesn’t make any sense to me, is why so many people want to force their opinions on everyone else.

You mean like “One nation, under God” and such?

Could we change it to “many gods”

That would be even more fun. Wingnuts would explode

as a devout hindu I am offended that it doesn’t say “one nation within god” or “one nation emanating from god” or maybe even “one nation, one with god.” Many of my buddhist friends agree but are not the type to get riled up.

Something to say?