Since writing a few columns about the Pledge of Allegiance, I have been thinking that perhaps we need a new one. This is not to disparage Baptist minister Francis Bellamy who originated the Pledge in 1892 where it was first published in a magazine. But over the years it has been changed, particularly in 1954 when the “under God” clause was added.
I have news for those who did that and who continue to endorse this religious addition. We are not a theocracy, despite the efforts of some fundamentalist (mostly) Christians to make us such. We were not founded on Christian principles.
Our Founding Fathers were mostly deist or I-don’t-carers, with perhaps a closet atheist floating around here and there. There is no mention of “God” in the Constitution. The USA 1791 treaty withLibya and Tripoli (they are still giving us problems) declared in no uncertain terms that we are not a Christian nation.
Article 1 of the Amendments to the Constitution prohibits the establishment of a religion. We have a clear (almost clear) separation of church and state.
Conversation with others, as per previous columns, has made me realize that we should be honoring and pledging to things other than a piece of cloth (flag) or property (land). We are a country not because of the land or design of our flag, but because of our ideals.
We are not different from Norway, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Russia, or Zimbabwe because of topography, geology and geography, but because of our Constitution.
Bellamy did a good job with his pledge, but he also, according to reports, left out a few words that he would have liked to include. He left out “fraternity” and also “equality”. They were left out since in 1892 when he wrote the pledge,
women had yet to get the vote which did not occur until 1920. Even then, it was not until some 30 to 40 years after this original pledge that the glass ceiling on female advancement in the work place began to crumble.
And while the Civil War and Lincoln eliminated slavery of blacks, it was not until the Civil Rights conflicts of the 1960’s that true equality began to eliminate the segregation and the separate black/white waiting rooms, drinking fountains, restaurants, motels, and such. And none of these changes had anything to do with God or religion.
Thus, how about a new Pledge of Allegiance? How about a Pledge of Allegiance like this: “I pledge allegiance to the ideas, ideals and context of the Constitution of the United States of America – one nation, indivisible, with liberty, equality, fraternity and justice for all.”
Tell your family, friends, acquaintances, and co-workers. Inform your Representatives and Senators. Write the President.