Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Pledge Of Allegiance

The Pledge of Allegiance was written for the popular kid's magazine Youth's Companion by Christian Socialist author and Baptist minister Francis Bellamy on September 7, 1892. The owners of Youth's Companion were selling flags to schools, and approached Bellamy to write the Pledge for their advertising campaign. It was marketed as a way to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus arriving in the Americas and was first published on the following day. The original wording appears as follows:

I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the republic for which it stands: one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

After a proclamation by President Benjamin Harrison, the Pledge was first used in public schools on October 12, 1892 during Columbus Day observances. This date was also significant as it was the dedication day of the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois. Bellamy thought that the pledge itself and the involvement of children across the country would be a fine show of national solidarity.

In 1923 the National Flag Conference called for the words my Flag to be changed to the Flag of the United States. The reason given was to ensure that immigrants knew to which flag reference was being made. The words "of America" were added a year later. The newly worded pledge got adopted officially on Flag Day, June 14, 1924.

In 1954, Republican U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy was leading the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations during the height of the Cold War anti-communist movement in the United States. Anti-communist ideology in the U.S. frequently identified the Soviet states with atheism; the Senate as well as the House, were still seeking to expose "godless Communist" infiltrators. So, several Christian anti-communists urged a bill to change the pledge further by including "God." Another amended pledge came by a joint resolution of Congress in 1954 with the addition of the words, "under God." The pledge now 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.

Unfortunately this pledge does not accurately reflect many Americans who do not believe in gods, and thus it can only stand as a biased an intolerant statement.

Although the first and second pledge offers a far better alternative than the last, has anyone noticed that the pledge first aims its allegiance to a flag and only secondly to the republic? This gives some reason why the flag presents so many problems with the prosecution of flag burners and with questions of law and the freedom of expression. Such problems would not exist with by simply removing the politically convenient wording:

I pledge allegiance to the United States of America: one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

This pledge can conform to any American whether he or she worships a god or has opted for agnosticism, atheism or unbelief.

Of course we would still perform the pledge in front of the flag, which represents the United States, but the pledge should honor only the United States, not a design on a piece of cloth.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have no political affiliation and still can't understand why people like you get your panties in a bunch about these things. Did someone force you as a child to utter "under God"? Did you get your mouth washed with soap by your kindergarten teacher for refusing to swear an oath to his or her diety? When you sing a popular song with unsavory language do you choose, with your free will, to not utter curse words or do you file a lawsuit against the artist, station, label for writing and distributing the word? When I feel oppressed by another's view, I simply turn it off, walk away, or choose not to follow. If you can't stand to view the oppressive messages of a majority, why not go somewhere you are surrounded by a majority that feels the way you do? I think jungles of the amazon will be happy to have you if you feel so persecuted.