The schoolroom clip didn’t originally encompass “under God,” also though that was created by one ordained minister


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Brandy L. Hornback / U.S. Navy

I first struggled v "under God" in my fourth-grade class in Westport, Connecticut. It to be the feather of 1954, and also Congress had voted, after part controversy, come insert the phrase into the Pledge of Allegiance, partly as a cold war rejoinder come "godless" communism. We preserved stumbling on the words—it"s not basic to unlearn something as ingrained and also metrical as the Pledge the Allegiance—while we rehearsed for Flag Day, June 14, when the revision would take effect.

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Now, nearly five decades later, "under God" is in ~ the center of a legal wrangle that has stirred passions and also landed in ~ the door of the U.S. Supreme Court. The instance follows a U.S. Appeals court judgment in June 2002 that "under God" turns the pledge into an unconstitutional government endorsement the religion as soon as recited in public schools. Outraged by the ruling, Washington, D.C. Lawgiver of both next recited the pledge ~ above the Capitol steps.

Amid the furor, the judge that wrote the ruling by the 9th Circuit Court, based in san Francisco, remained it from gift put right into effect. In April 2003, ~ the nine Circuit declined to testimonial its decision, the federal government petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court come overturn it. (Editor"s Note: In June 2004, the Court rule unanimously to save "under God" in the Pledge.) at the core of the issue, scholars say, is a conflict over the separation of church and state.

I wonder what the guy who composed the original pledge 111 years back would make of the hubbub.

Francis Bellamy was a Baptist minister"s kid from upstate brand-new York. Educated in publicly schools, he identified himself in oratory at the college of Rochester before following his dad to the pulpit, preaching at churches in brand-new York and Boston. Yet he to be restive in the ministry and, in 1891, welcomed a project from one of his Boston congregants, Daniel S. Ford, primary owner and also editor that the Youth"s Companion, a family members magazine with half a million subscribers.

Assigned come the magazine"s promotions department, the 37-year-old Bellamy collection to work-related arranging a patriotic regime for schools about the country to coincide with opening ceremonies for the Columbian Exposition in October 1892, the 400th anniversary the Christopher Columbus" come in the brand-new World. Bellamy efficiently lobbied Congress because that a resolution endorsing the college ceremony, and he assisted convince president Benjamin Harrison to problem a proclamation declaring a Columbus job holiday.

A vital element of the commemorative regimen was to be a brand-new salute come the flag because that schoolchildren to recite in unison. Yet as the meeting for composing the salute approached, it stayed undone. "You create it," Bellamy recalled his boss saying. "You have a knack in ~ words." In Bellamy"s later on accounts of the sultry August night he created the pledge, he claimed that he thought all follow me it need to invoke allegiance. The idea was in component a an answer to the civil War, a situation of commitment still new in the nationwide memory. Together Bellamy sat under at his desk, the opened words—"I pledge allegiance to my flag"—tumbled onto paper. Then, after ~ two hrs of "arduous mental labor," as he defined it, he produced a succinct and rhythmic tribute really close come the one we know today: I pledge allegiance to my flag and the Republic because that which it stands—one nation indivisible—with liberty and also justice because that all. (Bellamy later added the "to" prior to "the Republic" for far better cadence.)

Millions of schoolchildren nationwide took part in the 1892 Columbus day ceremony, according to the Youth"s Companion. Bellamy said he heard the pledge for the very first time the day, October 21, when "4,000 high college boys in Boston roared it out together."

But no sooner had actually the pledge taken source in colleges than the fiddling v it began. In 1923, a national Flag Conference, presided over by the American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution, ordained that "my flag" need to be adjusted to "the flag the the united States," lest immigrant children be unclear simply which flag they to be saluting. The following year, the Flag Conference polished the expression further, including "of America."

In 1942, the pledge"s 50th anniversary, Congress embraced it as part of a national flag code. By then, the salute had currently acquired a powerful institutional role, with some state legislatures obligating public institution students come recite that each school day. But individuals and groups challenged the laws. Notably, Jehovah"s Witnesses preserved that reciting the pledge violated their prohibition against venerating a graven image. In 1943, the can be fried Court ruled in the Witnesses" favor, undergirding the free-speech principle that no schoolchild must be compelled come recite the pledge.

A te later, following a lobbying campaign by the Knights the Columbus—a Catholic fraternal organization—and others, Congress approved the enhancement of the words "under God" in ~ the phrase "one nation indivisible." on June 14, 1954, chairman Dwight Eisenhower signed the bill right into law.

The bill"s sponsors, anticipating the the recommendation to God would be challenged as a breach the the Constitutionally mandated separation of church and state, had argued that the brand-new language wasn"t really religious. "A difference must be made in between the presence of a religious beliefs as an institution and also a id in the sovereignty the God," lock wrote. "The expression "under God" recognizes just the indict of God in our nationwide affairs." The disclaimer did no deter a sequence of litigants in numerous state court from contesting the brand-new wording over the years, yet complainants never got very far—until last year’s judgment by the 9th Circuit.

The instance originated when Michael Newdow, one atheist, claimed that his daughter (a minor who name has actually not been released) to be harmed by reciting the pledge at her public school in Elk Grove, California. If she refuse to join in since of the "under God" phrase, the suit argued, she to be liable to it is in branded one outsider and also thereby harmed. The appellate court agreed. Complicating the picture, the girl"s mother, who has custody the the child, has said she does not oppose her daughter"s reciting the pledge; the youngster does so every school day together with her classmates, follow to the superintendent of the school district whereby the son is enrolled.

Proponents that the idea the the pledge"s mention of God reflects historical tradition and not religious doctrine encompass Supreme Court judge past and also present. "They watch that kind of language—"under God" and also "in God we trust"—with no special religious significance," claims political scientist Gary Jacobsohn, that teaches Constitutional regulation at WilliamsCollege.

Atheists are not the only ones to take worry with the line the thought. Proponents of religious tolerance allude out the the recommendation to a single deity might not sit well through followers that some developed religions. After all, Buddhists don"t develop of God as a solitary discrete entity, Zoroastrians think in two deities and also Hindus think in many. Both the nine Circuit ruling and also a number of Supreme Court decisions acknowledge this. However Jacobsohn predicts the a majority of the judge will host that federal government may support faith in basic as long as public plan does not seek an obviously sectarian, specific religious purpose.

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Bellamy, that went on to come to be an proclaiming executive, created extensively around the pledge in later on years. Ns haven"t found any evidence in the historic record—including Bellamy"s documents at the university of Rochester—to suggest whether he ever before considered adding a magnificent reference to the pledge. So us can"t understand where he would certainly stand in today"s dispute. But it"s ironic that the debate centers ~ above a reference to God that an ordained minister left out. And also we have the right to be certain that Bellamy, if he to be like most writers, would have actually balked at anyone tinkering v his prose.