A BuzzFlash Reader Commentary
June 27, 2002
The Pledge of Allegiance
by Cheryl Taylor
The Pledge of Allegiance was attributed to clergyman Francis Bellamy. It was first published in 1892.
After a proclamation by President Benjamin Harrison, the pledge was first used in public schools on October 12, 1892, during Columbus Day observances.
The original pledge was: "I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the Republic for which it stands: one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
It has been changed a few times since. In 1924 for flag day, "the flag of the United States of America" was officially adopted as a substitution for the phrase "my flag."
In 1954, the words "under God" were added, after a campaign by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men's service organization. This was during the era of the House un-American Committee or better know as the "McCarthy era." The belief was that the pledge needed to be distinguished from similar orations used by "godless communists." Dwight D. Eisenhower directed Congress to add the two small words.
The news has been shouting all day that the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals declared the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional. The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals said the phrase, "under God" is unconstitutional! The pilgrims came to this country fleeing religious prosecution. I believe in the father, son and holy ghost, but I also believe in the separation of church and state, as did our founding fathers. They, as I, believed in not imposing one's belief on another. We live in a country that has christians, atheists, and holders of certain non-judeo-christian beliefs.
I stood next to a men who said, "This just handed the Republicans a landslide in November. I can't believe those liberal Democrats." Correct me if I am wrong, I explained, that Circuit Judge Goodwin, was a Nixon appointee and a Republican. He was joined by Circuit Stephen Reinhardt, a Carter appointee in this decision. There was nothing partisan about this ruling. He also said, "That his father in WW II and himself in the Gulf War, did not fight to see this." I again corrected him, "There were two world wars fought without 'under God' in Pledge of Allegiance and my husband also defended the Constitution for 23 years in the Navy."
I preceded to tell this gentlemen about Eleanor Roosevelt.
In 1947 Eleanor Roosevelt found herself in a similar situation while serving as Chair to the UN Human Rights Commission. This was an 18-nation diverse committee of Christians, muslims, an atheist and some holders of certain non-judeo-christian beliefs. There were not many disagreements, until it came to the wording of the declaration.
One muslim member of the commission could not support a declaration without mentioning the deity and Russia would not support it if it did. For Eleanor Roosevelt, the declaration meant every thing. What was she to do? Where was the solution?
Mrs. Roosevelt sought out the help of an expert in the Koran. She put forth this question, "Does it matter if God is mentioned in the declaration?" The expert said, "It does not matter if God is mentioned in the declaration, as long as he is in the room (hearts & minds of those who believe).
Jerry Falwell in a statement today: "My good friend Mathew Staver, president and general counsel of Liberty Counsel and a man who has fought next to me in a few religious freedom battles, stated, 'The absurdity of this opinion is what mandates that it be overturned. There is absolutely nothing unconstitutional about the phrase "under God" in our pledge.'"
"Mr. Staver noted that to issue this ruling because one person said they were offended is 'an outrage.'"
Well, Mr. Falwell and Mr. Staver, to that I say, "It took only the campaigning of a select group, to have the words added." The pledge has taken on many changes in its life and it is about time for another change. It is after all a living document. It is a pledge that EVERY ONE should be able to recite. I will recite the pre-1954 version and keep God in the room (my heart & mind).
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