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God" in Pledge Allegiance in Schools
The Alternative Would Be "One Nation Under a Flag."
(Keeping our Alleigances in Order)
The Pledge of Allegiance is one of the greatest symbols of our most wonderful and blessed nation. Just the mention of it stirs to mind images of young children developing an understanding of devotion as they together face the classroom flag and chant in unison, of diverse people of all colors and walks of life finding a common goal as they recite the pledge, and of wartime veterans and the families of fallen heroes together saluting the America worth dying for. The Pledge of Allegiance is an important unifying and morale boosting element of our nation's history. However, recently it has come under attack by those who do not understand the importance of the Pledge as it is written today and the importance of it remaining intact for future generations of Americans. Some people believe that the inclusion of the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance is somehow unconstitutional or not politically correct. However, the inclusion of "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance is essential to the American spirit of the Pledge and an important part of the Pledge tradition. There are many convincing reasons why "under God" should remain in the Pledge of Allegiance.
The original text of The Pledge of Allegiance was written by Francis Bellamy in September of 1892, published in "The Youth's Companion" periodical. It was written with a utopian vision in mind. The original text read, "I Pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands; one nation indivisible, with liberty and Justice for all." (Bellamy) Bellamy had also considered including the word "equality" in the pledge, because this is part of what it stands for, " but knew that the state superintendents of education on his committee were against equality for women and African-Americans." (Baer) As the superintendent of education in the National Education Association, he was able to easily introduce the Pledge into schools. The first change to the Pledge occurred in 1924, when "my flag" was replaced with "the flag of the United States of America," a change promoted by the National Flag Conference. This change was obviously for the best. "my flag" could be interpreted as being about any nation, instead of America alone, and this change was an important part of establishing the solid American identity of the Pledge. In 1942, The Pledge was officially added to the U.S. Flag Code and approved of by the United States Government, and the salute was changed. "Congress apparently was embarrassed by the similarity between the original Flag salute and the Nazi salute." (Baer) Again, this change was made to improve the Pledge, to make it more American. In 1948, another important improvement was made to the Pledge. Inspired by one of the most influential American leaders of all time, the words "under God" were inserted into a recitation of The Pledge, taken from the impromptu insertion of this phrase in Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. "Under God" is actually a literary reference to one of the most influential speeches made in American history, that rallied the troops to continue fighting the bloody Civil War. If Lincoln had not inspired the North to victory, the South might today be a separate nation instead of being united culturally, socially, and economically with the North as it is today. "Under God" as a part of the Pledge of Allegiance is a call to fight for what is right and good, and to unite us all as a complete nation. This improvement was recognized officially by the United States government in 1954, not only because of this important historical note, but also to separate the Pledge from any association with the atheistic communists that recited "pledges" that were reminiscent of Bellamy's original text. The newly perfected Pledge was now a part of the United States official code. "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." (U.S. Code) Years of discovery had finally led to the definitive wording for our Pledge of Allegiance, and to change it now and omit such a vital part of what it represents would simply be un-American.
Those who oppose the inclusion of "Under God" in the Pledge have a number of arguments which can be easily debunked. First, it is argued that the Founding Fathers themselves would be against this change. This argument often includes the reason that the Pledge was not worded that way in the days of the Founding Fathers. This is an ignorant argument; the Pledge did not exist at all in the days of the Founding Fathers. It is also argued that "many of the Founding Fathers -- most of them educated, wealthy, and aristocratic -- rejected the orthodoxy of religion," (Davis) and would therefore object to the inclusion of God in the Pledge. However, evidence points to the contrary; George Washington himself referred to religion as being indispensable, and warned that morality could not be maintained without religion. The Declaration of Independence, written by our Founding Fathers, even refers to "Nature's God." (Jefferson et al.)
A second argument made by those who oppose the inclusion of this phrase is that it violates the policy of separation of Church and State and the First Amendment, and therefore it is unconstitutional to include "under God." The Constitutional clauses in reference here are the Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. The Establishment Clause states that, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..." (First Amendment) Those opposed to the phrase think that this means Congress is forbidden from referencing God at all, but actually this means that Congress cannot establish a religion. The words "under God" do not establish any religion. "The Establishment Clause only bars the government from doing things that violate the conscience in a way that could be understood to fall within the model that the Framers would have thought of as establishing religion." (Feldman) The Free Exercise Clause is the part reading, "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." (First Amendment) in regards to religion. Those opposed to the phrase will argue that this prohibits Congress from adding "Under God" because that may interfere with the religious freedom of atheists. However, this is actually a clause which gives us, as Americans, the right to use the term "God" when and where we chose to! Atheists are not religious, and therefore religious freedom does not apply to them.
A third argument in support of "under God" being included in the Pledge is that God is referenced throughout the official documents of the United States of America. In the U.S. Code of Laws, there are actually more than twenty references to God! Would opponents require all U.S. Codes to be abolished as well? America would not do well to fall into complete anarchy as the very foundation of our law and order was erased and reestablished. In fact, all American money is printed with the motto "In God We Trust" by the United States Treasurer. Should all money be burned and America return to the Dark Ages when we did not have printed money? Proposing to abolish the currency of the nation is very reminiscent of the ideas Communist extremists perpetrated years ago which was the force that called Congress to officially add "under God" into the Pledge in the 1950's! The Neo-Communist movement that is both secretly and openly behind the opposition to include "under God" in the Pledge should not be pacified by our government, as this would show us to be very weak and not dedicated to our principles, and might pave the way for a new age of the Cold War.
Every President of the United States since Washington has taken an oath to serve as the leader of our great nation by the words "So help me God." (Davis) America is not a Christian nation, but that does not mean that our nation was not created and unified under God. The Pledge of Allegiance does not state that we are under the Christian God, or the Jewish god, or the Muslim god, or the Catholic god, or the Satanic god, or any other specific deity. The God in reference is the One Being that unifies us all. The phrase "Under God" is a historical literary reference to unity and patriotism from the Civil War, which defined our country as the indivisible nation it is today. It took many years of careful consideration and revisions to bring the Pledge to the point it is at today, which is the ultimate expression of being a dedicated American. The Pledge stands for strength against any enemy that threatens us, be that the Nazis of Germany or the Communists, domestic and foreign alike. Bellamy's words have been perfected, and to change them…[continue]
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