59 years ago Today "Under God" was ADDED to the US pledge of allegiance.

The schoolroom staple didn't originally include "under God," even though it was created by an ordained minister

By Jeffrey Owen Jones Smithsonian magazine, November 2003, 

Source: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/The_Pledges_Creat...

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(Brandy L. Hornback / U.S. Navy) 

I first struggled with "under God" in my fourth-grade class in Westport, Connecticut. It was the spring of 1954, and Congress had voted, after some controversy, to insert the phrase into the Pledge of Allegiance, partly as a cold war rejoinder to "godless" communism. We kept stumbling on the words—it's not easy to unlearn something as ingrained and metrical as the Pledge of Allegiance—while we rehearsed for Flag Day, June 14, when the revision would take effect.

Now, nearly five decades later, "under God" is at the center of a legal wrangle that has stirred passions and landed at the door of the U.S. Supreme Court. The case follows a U.S. appeals court ruling in June 2002 that "under God" turns the pledge into an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion when recited in public schools. Outraged by the ruling, Washington, D.C. lawmakers of both parties recited the pledge on the Capitol steps.

Amid the furor, the judge who wrote the ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court, based in San Francisco, stayed it from being put into effect. In April 2003, after the Ninth Circuit declined to review its decision, the federal government petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn it. (Editor's Note: In June 2004, the Court ruled unanimously to keep "under God" in the Pledge.) At the core of the issue, scholars say, is a debate over the separation of church and state.

I wonder what the man who composed the original pledge 111 years ago would make of the hubbub.

Francis Bellamy was a Baptist minister's son from upstate New York. Educated in public schools, he distinguished himself in oratory at the University of Rochester before following his father to the pulpit, preaching at churches in New York and Boston. But he was restive in the ministry and, in 1891, accepted a job from one of his Boston congregants, Daniel S. Ford, principal owner and editor of the Youth's Companion, a family magazine with half a million subscribers.

Assigned to the magazine's promotions department, the 37-year-old Bellamy set to work arranging a patriotic program for schools around the country to coincide with opening ceremonies for the Columbian Exposition in October 1892, the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' arrival in the New World. Bellamy successfully lobbied Congress for a resolution endorsing the school ceremony, and he helped convince President Benjamin Harrison to issue a proclamation declaring a Columbus Day holiday.

A key element of the commemorative program was to be a new salute to the flag for schoolchildren to recite in unison. But as the deadline for writing the salute approached, it remained undone. "You write it," Bellamy recalled his boss saying. "You have a knack at words." In Bellamy's later accounts of the sultry August evening he composed the pledge, he said that he believed all along it should invoke allegiance. The idea was in part a response to the Civil War, a crisis of loyalty still fresh in the national memory. As Bellamy sat down at his desk, the opening words—"I pledge allegiance to my flag"—tumbled onto paper. Then, after two hours of "arduous mental labor," as he described it, he produced a succinct and rhythmic tribute very close to the one we know today: I pledge allegiance to my flag and the Republic for which it stands—one Nation indivisible—with liberty and justice for all. (Bellamy later added the "to" before "the Republic" for better cadence.)

Millions of schoolchildren nationwide took part in the 1892 Columbus Day ceremony, according to the Youth's Companion. Bellamy said he heard the pledge for the first time that day, October 21, when "4,000 high school boys in Boston roared it out together."

But no sooner had the pledge taken root in schools than the fiddling with it began. In 1923, a National Flag Conference, presided over by the American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution, ordained that "my flag" should be changed to "the flag of the United States," lest immigrant children be unclear just which flag they were saluting. The following year, the Flag Conference refined the phrase further, adding "of America."

In 1942, the pledge's 50th anniversary, Congress adopted it as part of a national flag code. By then, the salute had already acquired a powerful institutional role, with some state legislatures obligating public school students to recite it each school day. But individuals and groups challenged the laws. Notably, Jehovah's Witnesses maintained that reciting the pledge violated their prohibition against venerating a graven image. In 1943, the Supreme Court ruled in the Witnesses' favor, undergirding the free-speech principle that no schoolchild should be compelled to recite the pledge.

A decade later, following a lobbying campaign by the Knights of Columbus—a Catholic fraternal organization—and others, Congress approved the addition of the words "under God" within the phrase "one nation indivisible." On June 14, 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the bill into law.

The bill's sponsors, anticipating that the reference to God would be challenged as a breach of the Constitutionally mandated separation of church and state, had argued that the new language wasn't really religious. "A distinction must be made between the existence of a religion as an institution and a belief in the sovereignty of God," they wrote. "The phrase 'under God' recognizes only the guidance of God in our national affairs." The disclaimer did not deter a succession of litigants in several state courts from contesting the new wording over the years, but complainants never got very far—until last year’s ruling by the Ninth Circuit.

The case originated when Michael Newdow, an atheist, claimed that his daughter (a minor whose name has not been released) was harmed by reciting the pledge at her public school in Elk Grove, California. If she refused to join in because of the "under God" phrase, the suit argued, she was liable to be branded an outsider and thereby harmed. The appellate court agreed. Complicating the picture, the girl's mother, who has custody of the child, has said she does not oppose her daughter's reciting the pledge; the youngster does so every school day along with her classmates, according to the superintendent of the school district where the child is enrolled.

Proponents of the idea that the pledge's mention of God reflects historical tradition and not religious doctrine include Supreme Court justices past and present. "They see that kind of language—'under God' and 'in God we trust'—with no special religious significance," says political scientist Gary Jacobsohn, who teaches Constitutional law at WilliamsCollege.

Atheists are not the only ones to take issue with that line of thought. Advocates of religious tolerance point out that the reference to a single deity might not sit well with followers of some established religions. After all, Buddhists don't conceive of God as a single discrete entity, Zoroastrians believe in two deities and Hindus believe in many. Both the Ninth Circuit ruling and a number of Supreme Court decisions acknowledge this. But Jacobsohn predicts that a majority of the justices will hold that government may support religion in general as long as public policy does not pursue an obviously sectarian, specific religious purpose.

Bellamy, who went on to become an advertising executive, wrote extensively about the pledge in later years. I haven't found any evidence in the historical record—including Bellamy's papers at the University of Rochester—to indicate whether he ever considered adding a divine reference to the pledge. So we can't know where he would stand in today's dispute. But it's ironic that the debate centers on a reference to God that an ordained minister left out. And we can be sure that Bellamy, if he was like most writers, would have balked at anyone tinkering with his prose.



Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/The_Pledges_Creat... 
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Views: 292

Tags: Eisenhower, USA, Under, god., pledge

Comment by Doug Reardon on June 14, 2013 at 5:48pm

Even as a schoolchild that was the one phrase in the pledge I never uttered.

Comment by Unseen on June 14, 2013 at 7:08pm

I guess I really lucked out. At age 66 now, I would have been among the first to be saying it, and I remember saying it. Of course, I went to Sunday School back then, so it didn't seem weird to me at the time.

Comment by SteveInCO on June 14, 2013 at 7:47pm

This is less of a grrrrr to me than "In God We Trust" on the money... and there is a suit in progress on that one.  The complaint contains a ton of research to prove that the intent of IGWT was to push religion, so they can't hide behind "ceremonial deism."  Well not without an incredibly tortured rationale.

[Mind you it's not all that much less of a grrrr.... to me.]

Comment by Unseen on June 14, 2013 at 9:15pm

Don't hold your breath. The Supremes will likely not hear it.

Comment by Gallup's Mirror on June 14, 2013 at 10:25pm

The Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit, gave "Under God" a free pass in 2010 by a vote of 2-1, with a bizarre, 'the circle is square' argument, which concluded that a state-required, teacher-led, daily recitation that affirms national theism... has an entirely secular purpose.

Yes, you read that right.

The conclusion of the judge with the dissenting opinion is posted below. I highly recommend you visit the link above and read everything he wrote. The honesty is refreshing.

For a change of pace, read the opinions of the two judges who ruled that 'Under God' was put into the pledge for, and now serves, an entirely secular purpose. Keep a barf bag handy. They twist and turn, but in the end it's obvious: these are two corrupt persons ensuring the outcome they wanted. What is more religious and less secular than faith in God?

The Supreme Court, packed with a majority of delusional theist kangaroos, let the decision stand by declining to hear the appeal. We'll have to wait for a few of them to croak before challenging it again.

--------------------------------------

I end where I began. Today's majority opinion will undoubtedly be celebrated by a large number of Americans as a repudiation of activist, liberal, Godless judging. That is its great appeal; it reaches the result favored by a substantial majority of our fellow countrymen and thereby avoids the political outcry that would follow were we to reach the constitutionally required result. Nevertheless, by reaching the result the majority does, we have failed in our constitutional duty as a court. Jan Roe and her child turned to the federal judiciary in the hope that we would vindicate their constitutional rights. There was a time when their faith in us might have been well placed. I can only hope that such a time will return someday.

As a judge of an intermediate appellate court, I would hold that our decision is controlled by the binding Supreme Court precedents governing this case. We are required to follow those precedents regardless of what we believe the law should be or what we think that the Supreme Court may hold in the future. Were today's majority to examine the amended Pledge as applied "through the unsentimental eye of our settled doctrine, it would have to strike it down as a clear violation of the Establishment Clause." Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783, 796 (1983) (Brennan, J., dissenting). Following settled precedents, I conclude that the state-directed, teacher-led daily recitation in public schools of the amended "under God" version of the Pledge of Allegiance, unlike the recitation of the historic secular version, without the two added words, contravenes the rules and principles set forth in Lemon v. Kurtzman, Santa Fe v. Doe, and Lee v. Weisman. Accordingly, we are, in my view, required to hold that the amendment, as applied, violates the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution. I should add that I firmly believe that the existing Supreme Court cases and doctrine reflect the true purpose and values of the Establishment Clause and of our Constitution as a whole, and that the holding that we should, but do not, reach best ensures the rights and liberties of the schoolchildren of this country. Finally, I firmly believe that any retreat from the existing Supreme Court doctrine and cases would constitute a most unfortunate diminution of the freedom of all our citizens.

Had my views prevailed here, our decision would not preclude daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance by public schoolchildren. To the contrary, public schoolchildren would be free to recite the Pledge as it stood for more than sixty years, a patriotic Pledge with which many of us grew up — a patriotic Pledge that is fully consistent with the Establishment Clause. All that would be required would be the deletion of the two words added by an amendment designed to promote religion and to indoctrinate schoolchildren with a religious belief. As has long been agreed in this nation, the teaching of religious views is the function of the family and the Church, not the State and the public school system.

As a judge of this court, I deeply regret the majority's decision to ignore the Pledge's history, the clear intent and purpose of Congress in amending the Pledge, the numerous Supreme Court precedents that render the school district's course of conduct unconstitutional as applied, and the very real constitutional injury suffered by Jan Roe and her child, and others like them throughout this nation.

Accordingly, I dissent.

Judge Stephen Reinhardt

Comment by Tom Sarbeck on June 15, 2013 at 4:44am

Judge Reinhardt:

I would hold that our decision is controlled by the binding Supreme Court precedents governing this case.

Let's examine Judge Reinhardt's reasoning there.

People who follow SCOTUS know it accepts cases on which districts disagree.

If the districts are bound by SCOTUS precedents, then the points of law on which districts disagree have never been decided by SCOTUS.

Is that true?

Comment by Ron Humphrey on June 15, 2013 at 5:12am

Two comments:

If you look at the original photos of children reciting the pledge, it ended with the arms being raised pointing toward the flag in a pose which is an exact copy of the nazi salute.  

For all those supporting the IGWT on paper money---The ten commandments contain an injunction against graven images.

Well, the opening of the gospel of John says that in the beginning was the word and word was god.  Now bear with me.   The motto is engraved into a steel plate.  I maintain that the word god in the motto is indeed a graven image.

Comment by Unseen on June 15, 2013 at 11:01am

I know this is not the most popular view among atheists, but since when has that ever stopped me. 

I think we'll make a lot more headway by promoting critical thinking than by complaining about religious slogans and imagery on currency. In fact, I think doing so just makes us seem like we're being difficult for the sake of being difficult.

Comment by Adam on June 15, 2013 at 12:11pm

Its so ingrained in our society that won't go away for a long long time

Comment by Arcus on June 15, 2013 at 12:59pm

The whole thing is a nasty bit of ultra-nationalism, more commonly associated with totalitarian dictatorships, and should be done away with. The invocation of divinity is hardly the major issue here.

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