Pledge of Allegiance

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Pledge of Allegiance

original version

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

    The Pledge to the Flag was first published anonymously in the 8 September 1892 issue of The Youth’s Companion, the most popular youth magazine of its day.

    The American Pledge of Allegiance was written by Francis Bellamy of Rome, New York, and/or James Upham of Malden, Massachusettes, in August 1892. It is unclear which of the two men wrote the Pledge, or if they co-wrote it, although most historians credit Francis Bellamy.

    Francis Bellamy (1855-1931), a Christian Socialist and a Baptist minister, shared the views of his first cousin, Edward Bellamy, author of the Ameican socialist utopian novels Looking Backward (1888) and Equality (1897).

    Francis Bellamy was chairman of a committee of state superindentents of education in the National Education Association (NEA). In that role, Bellamy prepared a program for public school celebration of the quadricentennial Columbus Day, 11 October 1892. The program involved a flag raising ceremony and a flag salute, the new Pledge of Allegiance.

    James Upham was an employee of the Boston publishing firm that published The Youth’s Companion. Bellamy had been recently fired by his church for giving socialist sermons and was hired by Daniel Ford, owner and editor of The Youth’s Companion, who, as a member of the congregation, had been impressed with Francis’ sermons.

    Francis Bellamy claimed he wanted to include the word “equality” in the Pledge, but the state superintendents of education on the commmitte were opposed to equality to women and African Americans.

    On 11 October 1892, more than 12 million American school children recited the October 1892 version (with “to the republic”) in ceremonies in schools across the nation. President Benjamin Harrison made a proclamation before the first public recital of the Pledge.

    In materials circulated nationally for the ceremony, Bellamy wrote “Let the flag float over every school-house in the land and the exercise be such as shall impress upon our youth the patriotic duty of citizenship.”

October 1892 version

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

    The Pledge to the Flag was widely viewed as a call for national unity following the divisive Civil War.

    Bellamy explained the reasoning for his wording:

    “It began as an intensive communing with salient points of our national history, from the Declaration of Independence onwards; with the makings of the Constitution … with the meaning of the Civil War; with the aspiration of the people…
    “The true reason for allegiance to the Flag is the ‘republic for which it stands’ … And what does that vast thing, the Republic mean? It is the concise political word for the Nation — the One Nation which the Civil War was fought to prove. To make that One Nation idea clear, we must specify that it is indivisible, as Webster and Lincoln used to repeat in their great speeches. And its future?
    “Just here arose the temptation of the historic slogan of the French Revolution which meant so much to Jefferson and his friends, ‘Liberty, equality, fraternity.’ No, that would be too fanciful, too many thousands of years off in realization. But we as a nation do stand square on the doctrine of liberty and justice for all.”

    The National Flag Conference, under the leadership of the American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution, changed the words “my flag” to “the Flag of the United State” on 14 June 1923 (Flag Day). They were concerned that immigrants might be confused about which flag was being referenced. Bellamy protested the change, but was ignored.

1923 version

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

    The National Flag Conference, under the leadership of the American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution, added the words “of America” on 14 June 1924 (Flag Day). Again Bellamy protested the change, and again he was ignored.

1924 version

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.

    “Before World War II, the Pledge was begun with the right hand over the heart during the phrase “I pledge allegiance.” The arm was then extended toward the Flag at the phrase “to the Flag,” and it remained outstretched during the rest of the pledge, with the palm facing upward, as if to lift the flag. An earlier version, the Bellamy salute, began with the right hand in a military salute, not over the heart. Both of these salutes differed from the Roman salute, where the palm was toward the ground. However, during the war the outstretched arm became identified with Nazism and Fascism, and the custom was changed: today the Pledge is said from beginning to end with the hand over the heart.” —Wikipedia

    In the 1940 Minersville School District v. Gobitis decision (310 US 586) the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that public school district’s interest in promoting national unity permitted it to compell Jehovah’s Witnesses students to recite the Pledge to the Flag along with their classmates. The Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that their beliefs prreclude swearing loyalty to any power less than the Christian God. The Gobitis decision was unpopular.

    The Pledge to the Flag became official on 22 June 1942 when Congress included it in the United States Flag Code (Title 36).

    In 1943, the Supreme Court overturned Gobitis and ruled 8-1 in its West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette decision (319 US 624) that school children can not be forced to recite the Pledge to the Flag as part of their school day routine. Public school officials were forbidden from punishinng school children who refused to participate, but schools were permitted to continue to use the Pledge.

    On 28 December 1945 Congress changed the name to the Pledge of Allegiance.

    On 8 June 1954, Congress passed a bill sponsored by Senator Homer Ferguson, R-Michigan, adding the words “under God” after a campaign by the Roman Catholic Knights of Columbus, who wanted the Pledge of Allegiance to be both a patriotic oath and a public prayer.

    US Code (36 U.S.C. § 172) states: “The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which is stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”, should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. When not in uniform men should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and render the military salute.”

    The use of the word “should” indicates that people are expected to recite the Pledge in the manner described, but not legally required to do so.

    Francis Bellamy’s granddaughter claimed he would have been against the 1954 change, as Bellamy had been kicked out of the Baptist Church for making socialist sermons and during his retirement in Florida had stopped attending church altogether in protest against Christianity’s racial bigotry.

    On 14 June 1954 (Flag Day), President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved adding the words “under God”, saying “In this way we are reaffirming the transcendance of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war.”

    As Allied Supreme Commander in Chief during World War II, Eisenhower had refused to use overwhelming allied air power to disrupt the Nazi trains taking Jews to death camps. The 1954 version of the Pledge of Allegiance serves as a strong public reminder that freedom of religion has been abolished and that Jews, Buddhists, atheists, Hindus, agnostics, Taoists, and all other non-Christians are second class citizens undeserving of equal rights, and in particular that homosexuals must actively be discriminated against.

1954 version

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.

    In the 1962 the U.S. Supreme Court banned the teacher-led recitation of “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country” as an addendum to the Pledge of Allegiance. The Supreme Court admitted that the “God save this honorable court” invocation uttered at the beginning of each Supreme Court session was a “prayer”, however “A religion is not established in the usual sense merely by letting those who chose to do so say the prayer that the public school teacher leads.” Instead, the Supreme Court found fault with the teacher-led prayer because the State of New York had financed a religious exercise in requiring the teacher-led recitation of the prayer.

    In 1980 the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House in Baltimore, Maryland, proposed the idea of an annual Pause for the Pledge of Allegiance. In 1982 the National Flag Day Foundation, Inc., was created “to conduct educational programs throughout the United States in promotion of National Flag Day and to encourage national patriotism by promotion fo the PAUSE FOR THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE.”

    On 20 June 1985, the 99th Congress passed and Prresident Ronald Reagan signed Public Law 99-54, recognizing the PAUSE FOR THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE as part of National Flag Day activities.

    On 24 June 1999 the U.S. Senate passed a resolution by Senator Bob Smith, New Hampshire, to recite the Pledge of Allegiance before each day’s session.

    In Newdow v. United States Congress, an atheist father (Michael Newdow) objected to the Pledge of Allegiance being taught in his daughter’s school in California.

    In response to the 25 June 2002 decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals 2-1 ruling that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is an unconstitutional “endorsement of religion” because of Cogress’ 1954 addition of the phrase “under God”, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution 99-0 (Senator Strom Thurmond, R-South Carolina, could not attend due to illness) on 27 June 2002 “expressing support for the Pledge of Allegiance.”

    Senator Kit Bond, R-Missouri, claimed “Our Founding Fathers must be spinning in their graves. This is the worst kind of political correctness run amok. What’s next? Will the courts now strrip ‘so help me God’ from the pledge taken by new presidents?”

    The oath of office for new presidents does not include the phrase “so help me God”, although Dwight D. Eisenhower did add that on his own when he was sworn into office.

    [Constitution of the United States of America, Article II, Section 1, Clause 8:] Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:—“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

    Circuit Judge Alfred T. Goodwin wrote for the majority that leading schoolchildren in a pledge that says the United States is “one nation under God” is as objectionable as making them say “we are a nation ‘under Jesus,’ a nation ‘under Vishnu,’ a nation ‘under Zeus,’ or a nation ‘under no god,’ because none of these professions can be neutral with respect to religion.”

    Citing a concurring opinion in a Supreme Court decision that said that students cannot hold religous invocations, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said, “The Pledge, as currently codified, is an impermissible government endorsement of religion because it sends a message to unbelievers ‘that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.’ ”

    The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the 1954 insertion of “under God” was made “to recognize a Supreme Being” and advance religion at a time “when the government was publicly inveighing against atheistic communism”, a fact the court said the federal government did not dispute.

    The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals pointed out that when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the act adding “under God,” he said, “From this day forward, the millions of our school children will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural schoolhouse, the dedication of our Nation and our people to the Almighty.”

    The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said “The recitation that ours is a nation ‘under God’ is not a mere acknowledgement that many Americans believe in a deity. Nor is it merely descriptive of the undeniable historical significance of religion in the founding of the Republic. Rather, the phrase ‘one nation under God’ in the context of the Pledge is normative. To recite the Pledge is not to describe the United States; instead it is to swear allegiance to the values for which the flag stands: unity, indivisibility, liberty, justice, and — since 1954 — monotheism.”

    Circuit Judge Alfred T. Goodwin, appointed by President Richard Nixon, and Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt, appointed by President Jimmy Carter, ruled in the majority.

    Circuit Judge Ferdinand F. Fernandez, appointed by the first President George Bush, dissented, warning that “We will soon find ourselves prohibited from using our album of patriotic songs in many public settings. ‘God Bless America’ and ‘America the Beautiful’ will be gone for surre and while use of the first and second stanzas of the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ will be permissible, we will be precluded from straying into the third.”

    On 28 February 2003 the full 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided not to take the case, letting the three-judge ruling stand.

    On 12 January 2004 the Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal by the Elk Grove School District and the George W. Bush administration, Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow (No. 02-1624). On 24 March 2004 Justice Antonin Scalia recused himself from the case for having made public speeches criticizing past court judgements secularizing public schools. Scalia believes that the courts are “repressive” in their decisions about “God” and claims that the courts have gone too far to keep religion out of public schools and other forums.

    On 14 June 2004 the Supreme Court rejected Newdow’s claim 8-0, stating that as a non-custodial parent he did not have sufficient custody to act as his daughter’s legal representative. The Supreme Court did not address the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance.

    Reverend Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said “I am disappointed with the court’s action. Students should not feel compelled by school officials to subscribe to a particular religious belief in order to show love of country. America is increasingly diverse in matters of relgiion, and our public schools should reflect that diversity.”

    Jay Sekulow, who filed an amicus brief on behalf of members of Congress and the Committee to Protect the Pledge, said “We are pleased that the Supreme Court reached the proper connclusion in determining that Michael Newdow did not have legal standing to bring the lawsuit challenging the Pledge of Allegiance. By dismissing this case and removing the appeals court decision, the Supeme Court has removed a dark cloud that has been hanging over one of the nation’s most important annd cherished traditions — the ability of students across the nation to acknowledge the fact that our freedoms in this country come from God, not government.”

    On 23 September 2004 the U.S.House of Representatives passed 247-173 a bill, HR 2028, by Represenntative Todd Akin, R-Missouri, that would forbid federal district and appeals courts and the Suprreme Court from hearing cases and having anny jurisdiction over constitutional challenges to the wording ofthe Pledge of Allegiance. The U.S. Senate did not pass a similar bill.

    Currently the United States is the only western nationn where the majority of schoolchildren take a pledge of allegiance daily. Most Islamic republics have similar pledges to Allah that schoolchildren are required to recite on a daily basis.

    There is now a movement to change the wording once again to emphasize the Christian prayer aspects.

proposed new version

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, born and unborn.

    Cartoonist Wiley Miller (Non Sequitur) wrote a Republican version:

Republican version

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the corporate states of America and the Republicans for which it stands, one nation, under debt, easily divisible, with liberty and justice for oil.

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