Under God

(Originally posted on 2007-10-07 as /archives/110)

By daveynin from United States (Pledge of Allegiance plaque) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Many people don’t realize that the pledge was originally inclusive of all beliefs.  Here it is:

I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Kay sent me a link to Jon Meacham’s New York Times editorial: A Nation of Christians Is Not a Christian Nation.  Jon is the Editor of Newsweek, which has become very open to discussions about faith under his watch, and the author of American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation.  Here is Jon’s Newsweek article about the subject: God and the Founders.

Here is a quote from Anna Quindlen’s: Indivisible? Wanna Bet?

So let’s go to the history books, as citizens of this country so seldom do.  The Pledge of Allegiance started in 1892 as a set piece in a magazine, nothing more, nothing less.  It was written by a man named Francis Bellamy in honor of Columbus Day, a holiday that scarcely exists anymore except in terms of department-store sales and parades.  The words “under God” were nowhere in it, hardly surprising since Bellamy had been squeezed out of his own church the year before because of his socialist leanings.  His granddaughter said he would have hated the addition of the words “under God” to a statement he envisioned uniting a country divided by race, class and, of course, religion.

Those two words went into the pledge nearly 50 years ago, and for the most deplorable reason.  It was the height of the Red scare in America, when the lives of those aligned or merely flirting with the Communist Party were destroyed by paranoia, a twisted strain of uber-patriotism and the machinations of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, after whom an entire vein of baseless persecution is now named.  Contrary to the current political argument that “under God” is not specifically devout, the push to put it in the pledge was mounted by the Knights of Columbus, a Roman Catholic men’s organization, as an attempt to counter “godless communism.” President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill making this law, saying that the words would help us to “remain humble.”

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