Saturday, June 20, 2015

One Nation Under God

One Nation Under God

The U.S. pledge of allegiance was written in 1893 as follows:

"I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."  Notice that there is not a reference to a specific country nor a reference to God.  The author Francis Bellamy, a Christian minister who was also a fervent Socialist,  actually hoped that the pledge could be used in any country.  However, he was actually enlisted to create the pledge and an accompanying flag raising ceremony by a magazine, The Youth’s Companion,  as part of a campaign to sell a U.S. flags to American schools and to increase subscriptions to the magazine.

The pledge was modified, against Bellamy’s wishes,  in 1923 to be more specific about which flag was being referred to:

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Bellamy ran a successful campaign to popularize the pledge.  He appealed to school superintendents, governors, congressmen, and the president.  After being used widely for decades, the pledge was formally adopted by the U.S. congress in 1942.

It was modified one more time in February, 1954 with the addition of “under God” as follows:

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

The change was made following six years of campaigning by various individuals and organizations, especially the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Sons of the American Revolution, and The Knights of Columbus.  President Eisenhower, baptized only a year earlier, was moved by a sermon that spoke of the need to make clear the spiritual foundation of the republic. His pastor, George Docherty, said "there was something missing in the pledge, and that which was missing was the characteristic and definitive factor in the American way of life." With Eisenhower’s fervent support, the pledge was adopted after previous failed attempts in Congress.

The Declaration of Independence, was written in 1776 and formally adopted by the Continental Congress, the forerunner to our current U.S. Congress.  The first two paragraphs made the spiritual foundation of the new nation very clear.

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Armed conflict towards independence had been underway for over a year by the time this declaration was adopted.  The references to a single God, creator of mankind, and the giver of basic human rights were foundational in explaining the need for such extreme measures.  If secularists were to revamp the Declaration of Independence, I find it hard to imagine what foundation they could use in God’s stead.  The idea that adding God to the pledge of allegiance was counter to the spirit and intent of our nation’s founders is absurd given their very clear references to God in the document that proclaimed the United States as a nation.

Recently, I was strongly struck by how thoroughly we have removed references to the one true God, our creator, from our everyday discourse, both private and public.   How is it that the very foundation of our successful country, with unprecedented freedoms and opportunities, could come to be seen as an aberration, or even an embarrassment, in daily conversations and in our social and public media?

I believe in God.  I trust in God.  I talk to God.  I do my best to hear God when he speaks, and to obey as he directs.   I am not ashamed.   Are you?
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