If you threaten to take the words “under God” out of the pledge of allegiance, you’re a secular, anti-American lunatic. Or so the Christian right in this country would have you believe.
For me, I say don’t remove the words “under God”, instead repeal the whole, freakin’ thing. Take the entire pledge out of the Flag Code, out of the United States Code. Repeal the pledge of allegiance.
It’s interesting, to say the least, how the Christian right wants to preserve something that is actually a product of socialism. I can hear the cries now, “Wait a sec, what? Socialism?” When you look at the pledge in depth, it becomes clear.
A small percentage of this country knows how the pledge of allegiance came about. It was created in 1892 by a Christian socialist, Francis Julius Bellamy. He had a cousinly relationship with Edward Bellamy, a socialist author who wrote Looking Backward and Equality. But note that Bellamy was a Christian as well. A Christian wrote the pledge of allegiance and left out the words “under God”.
Few have actually thought about the pledge of allegiance, which currently reads:
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.1
Think about these words for a moment, and I mean really think about them. I’ll give you a moment. Now let’s break this down.
“I pledge allegiance”
Pledging allegiance is certainly a good thing. After all there is no reason to be a citizen of a country to whom you are not loyal. This is why the Oath of Citizenship required of all naturalized citizens includes the words “bearing true faith and allegiance”, but with reference to the Constitution, not
“to the flag of the United States of America”
Why make it a pledge of allegiance to the flag of this country? As I discussed in a previous article, this is a form of political idolatry. By pledging allegiance to the flag, you are not pledging allegiance to the country. Bellamy would have you believe that pledging allegiance to the Flag is the same as pledging allegiance to the United States, but it is not. It’s the same as praying using prayer beads, a rosary, or kneeling before a cross and expecting that to be the same as praying to God or Christ. It is not.
By pledging allegiance to the flag, you are not simultaneously pledging allegiance
“to the Republic for which it stands”
You are pledging allegiance to a symbol of the country, not the country itself. But wait a second. Pledging allegiance to the “republic for which it stands”? Doesn’t that sound like pledging allegiance to the state, to the United States of America. Why not pledge allegiance to the Constitution?
I declare and solemnly affirm that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.
Our Republic is nothing without the Constitution of the United States of America. Remember that.
I remember hearing on Glenn Beck’s program numerous times how the progressive movement involves undermining the Constitution. Could the pledge have been a subtle start to that?
We are a federation of independent, sovereign States, or so we were until various changes starting in the 1910s started undermining this. Arguably the first change that started degrading our identity as a federated republic is the Seventeenth Amendment (emphasis added):
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote.
Before the Seventeenth Amendment, Senators were appointed by the State legislatures. This kept representation of the people and the States distinct, but it also kept distinct the States themselves by recognizing individual State sovereignty at the Federal level.
The United States is not “one Nation”, the United States is a federation of sovereign States, sovereign States that worked together to win independence from the Crown of Great Britain, and sovereign States that must again work together to win independence from the very government the States themselves formed.
Recall from earlier in this article that under God was not present in the original pledge, despite the fact that the pledge was written by a Christian in 1892. Bellamy also thought that the pledge would involve children all across the country in what would arguably be the largest demonstration of national solidarity and patriotism.
In fact, the original pledge didn’t even say “flag of the United States of America”, but originally read “my Flag”. It was changed in 1923 as a benefit to new immigrants to read “flag of the United States”. The words “of America” were added in 1924.
First recognized by Congress on June 22, 1942, over six months into the United States involvement in the second World War following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the pledge read as:
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.
The first unofficial addition of the words “under God” came from Louis Bowman, and he was awarded an Award of Merit by the National Society for the Daughters of the American Revolution for the idea. Allegedly at a meeting of the Illinois Society of the Sons of the American Revolution on Lincoln’s birthday in 1948, he led the society in the pledge with the added words, and repeated such a trend at other meetings.
In 1951, possibly following in Bowman’s footsteps, the Knights of Columbus also started reciting the pledge with the additional words. The move was made official by the organization itself in a resolution adopted on August 21, 1952. Over the next several years, the Knights of Columbus would make several attempts to petition Congress to amend the official pledge of allegiance to include “under God”, all of which failed.
Then on February 8, 1954, at the suggestion of President Eisenhower, under guidance from George MacPherson Docherty, Congressman Charles Oakman (R-MI) introduced a bill to amend the pledge to include “under God”. It passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law June 14, 1954 — Flag Day.
The idea the United States is indivisible is said to stem from words by President Abraham Lincoln. I feel, however, that President Buchanan has the best statement on the topic, when he addresses secession in his final State of the Union address:
In order to justify secession as a constitutional remedy, it must be on the principle that the Federal Government is a mere voluntary association of States, to be dissolved at pleasure by any one of the contracting parties. If this be so, the Confederacy is a rope of sand, to be penetrated and dissolved by the first adverse wave of public opinion in any of the States. In this manner our thirty-three States may resolve themselves into as many petty, jarring, and hostile republics, each one retiring from the Union without responsibility whenever any sudden excitement might impel them to such a course. By this process a Union might be entirely broken into fragments in a few weeks which cost our forefathers many years of toil, privation, and blood to establish.2
Buchanan here is stating that the individual States do not have the right to secede from the United States. Indeed the Constitution does not provide such a power, and does not deny it either. Under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, powers that are not provided in the Constitution are reserved to the States first, then the People. So does a State have the power to secede from the Union?
Not exactly. Congress is provided the power under Article IV, clause 1 of the Constitution to admit new States. As such, it is reasonable to conclude that only through Congress and by act of Congress may States leave the union.
So in a way we are indivisible, but not entirely so.
“with liberty and justice for all.”
All one has to do is look around to see that this is slowly no longer becoming the case, and in some ways never was to begin with. This can definitely be seen with how the pledge was treated in law, and I’m not referring to attempts to remove “under God”, I’m referring to attempts to compel students to recite the pledge.
In 1940 the Supreme Court of the United States actually backed these laws, upholding in the case Minersville School District v. Gobitas, 310 US 586 (1940), laws that required students to salute the flag and recite the pledge of allegiance. Jehovah’s Witnesses are compelled against doing such an action as they consider it a form of idolatry.
The Court reasoned in an opinion written by Justice Felix Frankfurter that the state’s interest in “national cohesion” is “inferior to none in the hierarchy of legal values”:
National unity is the basis of national security. To deny the legislature the right to select appropriate means for its attainment presents a totally different order of problem from that of the propriety of subordinating the possible ugliness of littered streets to the free expression opinion through handbills.3
Justice Harlan Stone was the lone dissenter in the case:
The guaranties of civil liberty are but guaranties of freedom of the human mind and spirit and of reasonable freedom and opportunity to express them. They presuppose the right of the individual to hold such opinions as he will and to give them reasonably free expression, and his freedom, and that of the state as well, to teach and persuade others by the communication of ideas.4
The Court would reverse its standing just three years later in deciding the case West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 USC 624 (1943), holding that compelling students to recite the pledge of allegiance violates that student’s rights under the First Amendment.
Harlan Stone was an Associate Justice in 1940 when the Court decided the Gobitas case. In 1941 he was elevated to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and joined the majority opinion written by Associate Justice Robert Jackson. Frankfurter would file a dissenting opinion in the Barnette case.
Don’t pledge allegiance to the flag
The pledge of allegiance is a product of socialism, possibly even a product of progressivism. James Peron wrote an article published in May 2001 in which he puts forth an interesting argument stating that the pledge is a “child of the socialist Progressive movement”.5 And if you want to see some interesting, but somewhat unorganized arguments linking the pledge of allegiance to Nazism, google Rex Curry.
So with the legacy of the pledge itself questionably un-American, why are so many Americans so concerned with preserving the two words “under God”? Hell, even the original flag salute (see right), called the Bellamy salute, had to be repealed and modified. That wouldn’t occur officially until June 22, 1942. The Bellamy salute started with the palm down salute used by our military followed by the arm being extended outward toward the flag as shown in the photograph.
Repeal the pledge!
I say the time has come to remove the pledge of allegiance entirely. Repeal the pledge, I say. Except the progressives in Congress will want to keep it because of its socialist and progressive legacy, and the conservatives will want to keep it because of the words “under God”. Interesting, to say the least. Troubling, as well.
We need to stop reciting it in schools, stop reciting it period. We need to get rid of the pledge of allegiance.
Instead declare your allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America.
- 4 USC § 4 [↩]
- State of the Union Address, 1860. James Buchannan, President of the United States [↩]
- Minersville School District v. Gobitas, 310 US 586 at 595 (1940) [↩]
- Minersville School District v. Gobitas, 310 US 586 at 604 (1940) [↩]
- Peron, James. (2001, May). "The Pledge versus the Oath." Ideas on Liberty, 51(5). [↩]