A federal court's decision to strike down the pledge of allegiance shares a central theme with the growing scandal over bogus business accounting: Moral confusion.

The court decision represents the logical conclusion of judicial decrees that treat the name of God as the most dangerous thing one can say in public. This view not only defies our founding traditions; it also condemns morality to the status of something artificial and whimsical.

By the same token, accountants and executives seem to believe lying constitutes an acceptable business practice.

But the principal difference between politics and commerce is that a businessman's word matters. Deception in the marketplace costs investors their money and workers their jobs. Most societies die not from sudden catastrophe, but from gradual decay — as people become more attached to convenience than principle.

Judging from public reaction to this week's big events, Americans haven't lost any of their ethical vigor. Moguls and jurisprudes may have forgotten the moral basics — but the public hasn't.

Thank God.