The Supreme Court recently demonstrated that it lacks the fortitude to take on the tough issues when it sidestepped the whole “under God” business with the Pledge of Allegiance by refusing to hear the case due to a technicality. You sissies.
Since this issue is in the forefront of everyone’s minds, I thought now would be a good time to dispel a couple of myths about the pledge.
Myth #1: The phrase “under God” has always been in the pledge.
This is not true. The pledge was written in 1892 by the socialist Francis Bellamy, and it included no reference to God. In fact, it didn’t even refer to the good old USA. It simply read:
I pledge allegiance to my flag and the republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all
Simple. Catchy. By the 1920s, kids all across America were reciting this patriotic (yet wholly secular) oath as part of their daily routine.
In the mid 1950s, during the Red Scare, we lost our collective mind and began seeing godless, communist spies everywhere. In an effort to exorcise them, the government began injecting godliness into everything. Around this time, we started printing “In God We Trust” on our money. In 1954, Eisenhower signed into law a bill that added the phrase “under God” to the pledge, citing “the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty.”
For more information, I’d recommend this terrific article by David Greenberg that, incidentally, I pulled many of these facts from.
Myth #2: Our nation is founded in Judeo-Christian traditions
This is just nonsense. Our founding fathers — guys you might have heard of such as Thomas Paine, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Benjamin Franklin — were all decidedly not Christians. They all were deists or Unitarians and rejected the divinity of Jesus and the teachings of the bible. Paine wrote in The Age of Reason:
“I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of… Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all.”
For more quotes from our founding fathers on this subject, and the broader concept of separating church and state, see this page.
So, the next time someone hurls one of these arguments at you as a justification for keeping the pledge as-is, give ’em the straight dope.