This afternoon I was listening to a popular mid-day radio talk show and the topic of "The Pledge of Allegiance" came up. Specifically, the phrase, "under God". This phrase has bothered me for years, and I am glad someone has finally had the time and the money to make an issue of it. I am a patriotic American of middle years who enlisted in the U.S. Army when we were still in a real shooting war, and the dinner time news discussion was who had the higher body count. I didn't believe in the war, but I DID believe in our country. I also believed that while I wasn't comfortable with the issues surrounding the war, it was my responsibility as a citizen to do my part in the resolution of that conflict. I admit I was fortunate. While I was in Basic Combat Training, we stopped sending combat troops to Viet Nam. I served my 5 years in the Army almost completely Stateside. I feel this experience in citizenship qualifies me to comment on the Pledge, albeit later, perhaps, than I should have.
The Pledge states that we are "One Nation, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All". Wait a minute... where is the "Under God"? The Pledge of Allegiance was first concieved in 1892 and was officially adopted in 1924. In the 1950's many people saw "Godless Communism" as a creeping threat. To differentiate the creeds of the Soviet Union and the United States, a Joint Resolution of Congress added the phrase "Under God" in 1954.
Let's examine the true meaning of that adjective phrase "Under God". The first question that comes to mind is, "Whose God?" I am sorry, I don't buy the idea that it can be "anyone's personal God". In every copy of the Pledge that I have seen the word "God" is capitalized. This makes it a proper noun -- specifically the deity of the Judeo-Christian belief structure. This implies that this great nation was established as a Judeo-Christian state. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many of our Founding Fathers were NOT Christian. Many of them had very little good to say about religion in general and Christianity specifically.
this country there is no alliance between church and state, no
established religion, no tolerated religion-for toleration
results from establishment-but religious freedom guaranteed by
the Constitution and consecrated by the social compact."
In regard to
religion, mutual toleration in the different professions thereof
is what all good and candid minds in all ages have ever
practiced, and both by precept and example inculcated on mankind
[should] be compelled to frequent or support any religious
worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor [should he] be
enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or
goods, nor ... otherwise suffer on account of his religious
opinions or belief ... All men [should] be free to profess and
by argument to maintain their opinions in matters of religion,
views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation
and the human origin of the scriptures, have become clearer and
stronger with advancing years and I see no reason for thinking I
shall ever change them."
am tolerant of all creeds. Yet if any sect suffered itself to be
used for political objects I would meet it by political
opposition. In my view church and state should be separate, not
only in form, but fact. Religion and politics should not be
decisions of government cannot be dictated by the concerns of
religious factions.... We have succeeded for 205 years in
keeping the affairs of state separate from the uncompromising
idealism of religious groups and we mustn't stop now. To retreat
from that separation would violate the principles of
conservatism and the values upon which the framers built this
SHALL MAKE NO LAW RESPECTING AN ESTABLISHMENT OF RELIGION, OR
PROHIBITING THE FREE EXCERCISE THEREOF..."
Now, does this mean that only those willing to reject their beliefs and become Christian may be enfranchised? What about the diversity we strive for in our country today? What about the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Pagan, or even the Islamic citizens of the U.S.? What about our Founding Fathers? I assure you, many of them would have refused this Pledge!
For a moment, assume that the phrase "Under God" DOES belong in the solemn pledge of love and allegiance to the flag of the greatest, most free nation this civilization has yet produced. If you are a person of your convictions, and refuse on moral grounds to forswear your belief or utter a false pledge.... if you are truly worthy to be a citizen of this great nation.... you must refuse the pledge. In other words, that one phrase has then divided the indivisible!
Lastly.... "Liberty and justice for all". All who swear a pledge before the God of the Christians and Jews? Or will you magnanimously grant liberty and justice to those of us who will not forswear our beliefs or our honor?
You may be asking why I am making a big deal of this. I am NOT Christian, or even Jewish, and I do feel very uncomfortable with the Pledge of Allegiance and quite sad that I am excluded from the affirmation of citizenship. I will not dispute that the majority of citizens in the United States profess Christianity, but our country was founded as a Republic rather than a Democracy to prevent the "Tyranny of the Majority". I am afraid we have lost that doctrine in spite of the guarantees our Founders established, for in this matter I truly feel the effect of that tyranny.
Essay Copyright 2002 © by Rain SilverSplash. This article may be distributed freely, so long as this notice remains and the article is in no way edited to alter the content. No fee may be charged for the distribution of this article in any form without consent of the author.
If you know what you are looking for, or just want to browse the books and CD's, try the search engine....
Send SlvrSplsh Mail
This page last updated 07/26/02