Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Social Commentary: On The Pledge of Allegiance

It's one of the more common postings on Facebook; someone recites The Pledge of Allegiance, making sure to emphasize the phrase UNDER GOD. Their apparent point is to express their faith AND then to connect that faith to our country and the political process. For most conservatives, including UNDER GOD in The Pledge is absolutely essential for the very survival of the Country! When pressed as to the religious plurality that (supposedly!) exists in the United States, their response usually involves the so-called Judeo-Christian ideal that there is only ONE, TRUE GOD and that he reigns supreme over ALL mankind. One conservative that I correspond with showed what he believed was his kinder, gentler side on the issue by saying, "it's the same god for Christians, Jews, AND Muslims". My response is always the same; "but what about the Hindus, the Buddhists, the Wiccans, the Agnostics, the Atheists, etc., etc.? They don't worship the same god in the same way. In fact, some of those religions worship multiple deities and some no deity at all! Does this make them any less American"? No. No. No. A thousand times no! Faith and Patriotism are not inextricably linked!! I dare say that, in fact, some great Americans may have even been atheists!! That's why this GREAT COUNTRY was founded on the essential principal of separation of church and state. THIS is what is essential for the survival of the Nation.

But, oh, yes my friends, there is more! Of course this whole debate spurred me to do a little research as to the origin of The Pledge of Allegiance. What I found was MOST revealing. The Pledge was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist Minister who also happened to be a Christian Socialist. Bellamy's cousin was Edward Bellamy, the great socialist Utopian writer and a profound influence on Francis and his writing of The Pledge. Francis Bellamy wrote The Pledge as a testament to his beliefs in political, social, and economic equality for all Americans. There was NO MENTION OF GOD in the original text. Apparently, this was a deliberate move by Bellamy to be as INCLUSIVE as possible and be true to his Christian Socialist beliefs. In essence, it was a SOCIALIST MANIFESTO! OH, MY GOD!! The Pledge of Allegiance was published by The Youth's Companion, a leading periodical of its day, in September of 1892. Bellamy was also a "big shot" in The National Education Association and had The Pledge including in the Nation's schools program for the celebration of the Columbus Centennial. It became part of most school's curriculum from then on.

Interestingly, the words UNDER GOD were not added until 1954. The Italian-American organization, The Knights of Columbus, spearheaded a drive that petitioned successfully to have Congress add UNDER GOD to The Pledge. The Knights reasoning was that the US was under direct siege by the godless communist hordes and the key to our survival was to express our righteousness and resolve, UNDER GOD (my italics). An Act of Congress has kept those words with us ever since.

In an interview with Francis Bellamy's granddaughter, she said that Bellamy would have been appalled by the addition. It was against the VERY PRINCIPALS with which he wrote it: with liberty and justice for all! Even though he was a devout Christian, he knew that the real key to America's greatness lies in her ability to provide not only freedom of religion but freedom from religion, as well. To put it in the most common terms, you are free to worship as you choose, but please keep from imposing those beliefs on me. And please, don't confuse religious fervor with patriotism. One does not breed the other. So, PLEDGE AWAY - but try and understand what it REALLY means.

1 comment:

  1. Very well written and Thank you for adding our discussion to parts of your blog. You are correct to say we have the right to worship whoever we please and in America we have the freedom from Religious Persecution if we don't follow one Religion and that's good. I really believe that the Phrase Under God has multiple meanings. First I think it has the Religious aspect but I think it goes deeper than that with the Flag/Heart Allegiance to America!! That's just my opinion!!