I Pledge of ... What Do we Pledge our Allegiance to?

Janet Kuypers

    Listening to people talk on AM radio about the Pledsge of Allegiance recently, I’ve started to formulate my own opinion. There are those who want to eliminate the line “Under God” from the pledge, that this leads some to believe that the United States does not stand for Atheists or people who don’t believe in the same god ss the ever-pervasive Christian God. But I’ve always thought that if that were the case, then Atheists should be against our money (“In God We Trust”???), or for that matter be against the people who founded our country (even though they did not an imposed religion, they were for the most part quite Christian people...). I always thought that This is the way the opledge was written, and we should honor the way it was created.
    Then I found out that the Pledge of Allegiance did not include references to God.
    I read Joe Hertel’s editorial in Northeastern Illinois University’s newspaper (v20 issue 16) INDEPENDENT. Hertel wrote “The worlds ‘Under God’ were added in 1954 to distinguish us from the Godless Communists” ... so I realized not to make judgements until I actually research something. So I decided to search a little more.
    I learned details from a a short story by Dr. John W. Baer (from http://history.vineyard.net/pledge.htm):
    Francis Bellamy (1855 - 1931), a Baptist minister, wrote the original Pledge in August 1892. His original Pledge read as follows: ‘I pledge allegiance to my Flag and (to*) the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’ [ * ‘to’ added in October, 1892. ]
    In 1923 and 1924 the National Flag Conference, under the leadership of the American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution, changed the Pledge’s words, ‘my Flag,’ to ‘the Flag of the United States of America.’ Bellamy disliked this change, but his protest was ignored.
    The Story of the Pledge of Allegiance states (at http://www.flagday.org/Pages/StoryofPledge.html) that: “On Flag Day June 14, 1954, the words “under God” were added. The last change in the Pledge of Allegiance occurred when President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved adding the words “under God”. As he authorized this change he said: “In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war.”
    Thst was very nice of Eisenhower to assume our future allegiance to his God (though I’d like to know what our “spiritual weapons” are...).
    Dr. John W. Baer also noted that Bellamy “had been pressured into leaving his church in 1891 because of his socialist sermons. In his retirement in Florida, he stopped attending church because he disliked the racial bigotry he found there.”
    So ... one can only guess that Bellamy would not have liked this change, either (especially considering that he even stopped going to church).
    I don’t know if it is proper to “change” the Pledge of Allegiance back to it’s original form. I understand that Amendments are added to the Constitution to make it better; maybe I’m missing the argument that keeping “Under God” make the Pledge of Allegience better. But reading the words of the group to Restore our Pledge of Allegiance (at http://www.restorethepledge.com/), I felt I might not be alone. They state:
    “Currently there is a legal drive to remove those words. “God” in the Pledge has caused the divisiveness, discrimination and exclusion that the Framers specifically sought to prevent. Yes, the majority of Americans believe in God, and they nearly unanimously find no objection in the Pledge’s current rendition. But that is precisely why we have a Bill of Rights - to prevent tyranny by the majority, and to protect the rights of minorities. Our Constitution forbids government from endorsing religious views, and those who choose not to believe in a deity should never be made to feel like “outsiders,” as is now the case.”
    “The words are “liberty and justice for all.” The Pledge should be a unifying experience for every citizen. Placing a religious ideal into its midst is not right, and serves no purpose except to alter a purely patriotic tradition into one that satisfies the religious bent of the majority. That is exactly what the First Amendment was written to preclude.”



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