Those are powerful words. They were written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister. He intended to show that our nation was one that could not be torn apart and that a simple pledge, taken by every American, would help that along.
The words “Under God” were added later, after Bellamy’s death. Louis A. Bowman, an attorney from Illinois, is recognized as the backing force behind this event. He said the words came from the Gettysburg Address, a speech given by Abraham Lincoln after the bloody battle. The first time the pledge was spoken with that change was in 1948—56 years after the pledge had been written.
It’s not easy to write about this subject matter without looking at our history as a country first.
Our country was founded on blood and hardship. We fought for our freedom from a country that was ruled by the Church. Seeing how any large group could affect a country so greatly, our Founding Fathers chose to include something they thought was important in our Constitution: The First Amendment.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
These are the words that still protect people today. I am protected in my writing thanks to these words—powerful words that give no leeway for interpretation. Except, they do.
The Establishment Clause, as it is commonly referred to, is what is in need of a closer look. Because that is what is important in this discussion.
The words “One Nation Under God” are used on a federal level. “In God We Trust” is featured proudly on our money. The Ten Commandments sit in front of school and federal buildings.
These are all examples of government respecting an establishment of religion. By acknowledging that a Christian God is the God referred to in these situations, we are giving one religion a higher place in America than others.
Yes, the country was founded by Christian men—well, some Christian men—and some Deists. But they all knew the strength religion could hold over a government. So, our Founders created a country based on their morality, taken from Christianity, but lacking the acknowledgement of their religions.
While it may seem like an attack to remove “Under God” from the pledge and the references to God on our money, imagining what would replace it reveals so much more.
The word indivisible is a powerful word. One Nation that can’t be broken, and that won’t be broken. We are one people, Americans. Isn’t that a more powerful phrase than one that acknowledges that America recognizes a God, and not all gods, but a distinctly Christian God.
On our money is the phrase “E Pluribus Unum,” which means “Out of many, one.” Think about that for a second. We hear it all the time, but those words mean something. Out of many, one. We are one, though we are all different, we are Americans, we are America.
I don’t want to hinder your religious practices, but I don’t want them to become the core of American politics and the only judgment by which important decisions are made.
We are a country that spreads across a vast area. From shore to shore with everything in between. This country is different all over, but there is one thing that doesn’t change. We are here to be free.
But by allowing laws to be made based on religious beliefs, laws that keep people from their freedoms, is not acceptable in this country. There are more people here than just Christians now. Beliefs have changed, more have emerged and they should all be treated with an equal amount of respect. All religions should be given the same treatment from the government, respecting none of them.
As Americans, can’t we just agree that we are all Americans, and that we should respect each other as such? Religion is a intimate experience, one that is between a man and his god, not between a country and its people.