One Nation, Under God

By: Erin Tate
By: Erin Tate

Dr. John Sloop is a firm believer in the Judeo-Christian beginnings of America. He said to extract that godly heritage from the Pledge of Allegiance is to ignore the intent of our founding fathers.

"Well, it seems to me the 9th circuit court has either forgotten American history or is seeking perhaps to rewrite it," he said.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the pledge's "Under God" phrase is a government endorsement of religion -- a clear violation of the separation of church and state.

Despite the Bush administration request, the court has recently refused to reconsider its ruling. But Attorney David O'Donnell said that's no concern for us in the Valley.

"I don't think it's something you really need to worry about as affecting our daily lives. What are they going to be doing at our schools? Are they going to have our kids not say the Pledge of Allegiance? I don't really think it's going to happen," O'Donnell said.

Sloop said the ruling is still a cause for national concern. A local radio station is running a message for It's a Web site petitioning for a constitutional amendment to protect the pledge and the national motto, "In God We Trust."

But Valley native, Arnold Via, of American Atheists, Inc. said discussing the issue is like beating a dead horse. He said the "Under God" phrase has been challenged since it was first added to the pledge in 1954.

O'Donnell said it's a hot-button issue.

"It's something people get worked up about. It's our nation and God. Those are pretty important things to people," he said.

The case could still go to the U.S. Supreme Court. Extended Web Coverage

History of the Pledge of Allegiance

  • Every class day over 60 million public and parochial school teachers and students in the U.S. recite the Pledge of Allegiance along with thousands of Americans at official meetings of the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Elks, Masons, American Legion, and others.

  • In 1892, a socialist named Francis Bellamy created the Pledge of Allegiance for "Youths' Companion," a national family magazine for youth published in Boston.

  • Daniel Ford and James Upham owned the "Youth's Companion", and in 1888 the magazine began a campaign to sell American flags to the public schools.

  • By 1892, "Youth's Companion" magazine had sold American flags to about 26,000 schools.

  • Bellamy, under the supervision of Upham, wrote the program for a Columbus Day celebration, including its flag salute, the Pledge of Allegiance.

  • The original version was: "I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the Republic for which it stands -- one nation indivisible -- with liberty and justice for all."

  • This program and its pledge appeared in the Sept. 8 issue of "Youths' Companion."

  • The original Pledge was recited while giving a stiff, uplifted right hand salute, criticized and discontinued during WWII.

  • The words "my flag" were changed to "the flag of the United States of America" because it was feared that the children of immigrants might confuse "my flag" for the flag of their homeland.

  • The phrase, "Under God," was added by Congress and President Eisenhower in 1954 at the urging of the Knights of Columbus.

Source: (The American Civil Liberties Union Web site)

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