First Amendment Advocate, Vol. 3, No. 2, August 2002
The Newsletter of the Oklahoma Chapter of Americans United
Language in pledge should be returned to pre-McCarthy era
By Susan Cogan
The news reports of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals stating that the “under God” phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional has generated a great deal of heat and very little light.
President Bush called the ruling “ridiculous.” Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., called it “just nuts.” Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., said it was “political correctness run amok.” Jerry Falwell has called it an “imbecilic decision” and called for new battles in the culture war.
The current Pledge of Allegiance was rewritten in the McCarthy era of the early 50’s and signed into law by President Eisenhower in 1954.
The phrase “one nation, indivisible” was replaced with the more (at the time) politically correct “one nation under God.”
I, for one, would like to see the Pledge returned to its original language. It seems to me that it is vastly more important that Americans stand united — indivisible — rather than be divided by religious issues. The founding fathers could have put references to God in the U.S. Constitution, but they did not. I submit that they left out those references for a reason. Even back then, the fledgling states were somewhat religiously diverse. The nation certainly is now. Those religious differences have the power to divide us: in fact, they have the power to destroy us, and the founding fathers knew that.
A lot of people think that the motto of the U.S. is “In God We Trust.” It is, in fact, “E Pluribus Unim” — “Out of Many, One.” Our motto acknowledges our diversity and encourages us to unity. I think that rather than allow religious issues to divide us, we need to look at the idealism of our past as a beacon of hope and strive to be “one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
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"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”
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