Wednesday, September 4, 2013

"Under God" In The Pledge Of Allegiance

“The state Supreme Judicial Court will begin hearing arguments this week in an atheist Acton couple’s quest to strike the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance their children say in the Acton-Boxboro Regional School District. The couple’s suit, filed anonymously on behalf of their three children, goes to the SJC tomorrow, with a pair of Washington, D.C., activist organizations taking part in the proceedings.”

The pledge was written by a Baptist Minister Francis Bellamy and did not include “Under God” until the final of several revisions.

I was a fourth grade student when “Under God” was added to the pledge of allegiance. There were 48 stars in our flag at the time. A history of the pledge is here.
I do remember including it, being a bit awkward initially.

President Eisenhower signed the bill to add “Under God” into law in 1954 and stated "From this day forward, the millions of our school children will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural school house, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty.... 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 or in war."

We began every school day with the pledge at U.S. Grant Elementary School. The school has since been torn down and is now an empty lot. We also began every school assembly in the gym with the pledge and the Lord’s Prayer. I don't remember any students who remained sitting during the pledge but there may have been some who did not recite it. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the early 1940’s that Students were not required to recite the pledge or even stand for it since it was a “compulsory unification of opinion” and ran counter to the first amendment. This was the result of Jehovah Witnesses who initiated the court case believing that loyalty to the flag (which symbolizes our country) is a form of idolatry. In a sense, they are right.

I can remember some of my teachers actually crying when they would say the pledge with us. I also remember seeing a copy of the Ten Commandments on the wall of my Government Class in High School. In the local theaters we said the pledge before the movie began. I supposed it will only be a matter of time before “In God We Trust” is removed from our currency.

The phrase “Under God” came from the transcribed version of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. “…that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that this government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from this earth.

Something happened along the way, although I have no issue with the courts insuring that no one is forced to participate in a ceremony that may offend them but something has been lost. However, not participating is no longer enough of an individual protection. It is simply easier to make an activity illegal.  A culture swept free of religion is one that is also swept free of meaning, purpose and vision. “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. (Proverbs 29:18)

I am part of the last generation of those raised in a Christian culture. I pray for the children and grandchildren. They will be living in a culture that is both pagan and hostile to those of the Christian faith.


1 comment:

Dale Matson said...

I attended grandparent's day at my grandson's school recently(Fresno Christian). They began their day with the pledge, and a prayer.