I’m sitting here with CNBC on in the background and they’re talking about the huge response they’re having to their website vote about whether or not the phrase ‘under God’ should be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. I think they’re getting about 10 times the response they usually get on their polls. Right now 137,000 votes (their largest response ever) have been cast, and 86% say that the Pledge should remain as it is. For the record, I’m part of the 14%. The CNBC anchors like to highlight people’s comments for the reason they voted as they did. Many of the voters said the following: ‘under God has always been there, and it should stay that way.’ Well, those people need to find another reason and learn their history. The pledge has been changed a couple of times over the years (bold emphasis is mine):
The original pledge: “I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the Republic for which it stands — one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” was written by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister, in 1892. Bellamy, a Christian Socialist, prepared the pledge as part of a marketing campaign to sell American flags to public schools. It was used along with the American flag as the centerpiece of a national public schools program to observe Columbus Day in 1892.
In 1923 and 1924, the National Flag Conference, under the leadership of the American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution, changed “my flag” to “the Flag of the United States of America.”
In 1954, at the height of the Cold War, Congress added the words “under God,” after a campaign by the Knights of Columbus, religious leaders and others who wanted to distinguish the United States from what they described as godless communism. The Knights of Columbus has filed a brief with the Supreme Court, asking that the lower court’s ruling be reversed.
Frank S. Ravitch, a constitutional law professor at Michigan State University, said he believes that if people knew the history of how the “under God” phrase was added, they would be troubled.
`It was adopted during the anti-communism era and it has a brazen history that aimed to discriminate against atheists that were thought to be communist. They even played Onward Christian Soldiers on the White House lawn when it was passed,” Ravitch said. “I understand why people get upset about this issue but people are making this decision into a much bigger deal than it is.
Man, the 1954 era must have been a fun time in America. That’s also the time when the southern states embraced the confederate battle flag in protest of Brown v. Board of Education.
Anyway, I don’t think that changing the pledge back to the way it was is such a big deal. (And there are certainly more pressing issues for us to deal with.) Saying those words is not going to turn anyone who doesn’t already believe in a God into a believer, nor will it modify their behavior. I also doubt that removing the phrase will lessen the belief of the believers.