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This started out as a comment to the diary It's OK to be an American now by teacherken. He touched briefly on a subject that is important to me and got my juices flowing. However, they overflowed too much, so here I am.

This may be old hat, may be a bit boring for some, so I'm going to throw in some patriotic pictures just to ease the pain. So here we go and the subject is the Pledge of Allegiance.


I served twenty years in the U.S. Army. I carried this patriotism into my short second career in the Postal Service. Now, the author has briefly touched on a topic I wish to address that is important to me - the Pledge of Allegiance.


During my short second career in the Postal Service, I proudly recited the Pledge at every union meeting, labor council meeting, and Democratic Party meeting I attended. But there is one part that sticks in my throat that I just cannot say.

I cannot get my mouth around the under God part. It's for personal reasons, partially. I am not of the Judeo-Christian faith and I believe that that is the God to which one nation is referred. Another minor reason I cannot say it is because it is not true. But the main reason I have this problem is based on my firm belief that the Pledge should be secular like our government, like our Constitution. Under God implies a commonality and blanket morality that just does not exist in the U.S., nor should it.

It reminds me too much of a "united faithfulness" that inches its way over the separation of church and state line. There was a case Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow heard by the SCOTUS that ended badly for Newdow, an atheist who cited that a teacher-lead pledge was a violation of the separation clause and a violation of his daughter's rights. The court ruled 8-0 against him not on the merit of his argument, but because he was a non-custodial parent and didn't have legal standing bring the case as "next friend" to his daughter, because Sandra Banning, the mother, had sole legal custody. Well, it is my opinion that the court didn't decide anything, opting to kick the can down the road instead.

We are not one nation under God. Aligning ourselves in this patriotic fashion with the Christian God pushes many folks out from under the tent that we call a Democratic Republic, including the gaily married.

Under God was added in 1954 during a Republican Administration. Jesus did not write it, nor did he write the Constitution as I heard someone say on the radio. If the right-wing-nut-job-forced-child-birth crowd had their way, the Pledge would end with "liberty and justice for all, born and unborn". (There is actually a movement for this change.) This under God thing was a right wing campaign stirred up by the Knights of Columbus and now will take an act of Congress to change - - literally.


I wish to thank teacherken for the heartfelt and well written diary. It  inspired me to try. I hope you liked my patriotic pictures.


UPDATE: I fixed the title, I think. Also fixed the first sentence. Thanks for all of your great comments.

Originally posted to Batbird on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 10:48 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  This needs an informative title n/t (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rogneid, BoiseBlue, sulthernao

      An Ceiling Cat rode invisible bike over teh waterz (cskendrick)

      by brainwave on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 10:53:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I can't say it either... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wader, marykk, watershed

      ...because, like you, I am not a Christian and I simply find it offensive, but also because I didn't learn it with the "under God" phrase. I said the pledge every single school day for six years of grade school--all without the "under God" phrase. Once I got to junior/senior high, the phrase had been put in, but I don't remember having to say the pledge in those years--except in special assemblies, etc.--and I just left it out. Not long ago, I was a guest lecturer in a hs classroom and was interrupted by the PA system announcing we would all say the Pledge of Allegiance. I wish I could have turned around to see if anyone else had left it out--but I doubt they did. Well trained, they are. Probably a good thing my back was to the entire class--they wouldn't have understood...

  •  I never include that term in the pledge (9+ / 0-)

    and I never will.

    •  I didn't even when I thought I believed. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hippie bitch, BoiseBlue

      Though I think it was more because I didn't think it was appropriate than because I thought it wasn't true. I never considered whether it was true or not, but if I had, I don't doubt that that would have provided more reason for me not to say it.

      •  Same here (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gchaucer2, Sadameatsit

        I was once a Christian, and even then I just thought it was idiotic. One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all seems so much more powerful without the "under god" part. The "under god" part does divide us, and the parts of our nation that have not progressed are because some people insist that we are a country of god.

  •  Tipped and rec'd (9+ / 0-)

    From a Catholic, who feels a little bit uneasy every time he says the Pledge because he knows there are people who are uncomfortable with the wording, and nobody should feel excluded by the Pledge of Allegiance.

    This Internet post was made possible by Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain.

    by Ivey476 on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 10:56:04 AM PST

  •  Great comment, great diary! Tip'd, rec'd (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peace voter, wader, agnostic, marykk, watershed

    I don't say the Pledge myself - it's that Quaker bit in me. I have non-Quaker friends who just don't say the "under God" part for various reasons.

    The only thing that helps me maintain my slender grip on reality is the friendship I share with my collection of singing potatoes. -5.75, -7.18

    by Rogneid on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 10:56:30 AM PST

  •  I had to say the Pledge in school. (9+ / 0-)

    Even though I'm not an American citizen and don't believe in God. I thought it was completely idiotic. Even in USSR we were not required to pray to the freaking hammer and sickle every morning.

    Crescat scientia; vita excolatur

    by AxmxZ on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 10:56:46 AM PST

    •  I never thought of it (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      as a "prayer."  I will again proudly recite the Pledge because I consider it comparable to the Oaths of Office -- a commitment to the essence of the Constitution.  I leave out the god part.

    •  Ironically, it was all about the USSR in 1st plac (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wader, hippie bitch, sulthernao, AxmxZ

      e.  It was added to show that we were better than the 'Godless-communists'.  But, like so many silly things left over from the Cold War, this zombie still sucks our brains out. Its one of the reasons McLose-Failin and their supporters shifted so easily to the 'Obama's a commie'.

      Also, ironic because the same people who think Jesus worte this, would go bat-sh** crazy if Iraq added 'under Allah' to whatever the equivalent is of their Pledge.

    •  In USSR, hammer and sickle (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      prays to be under YOU.

      "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

      by wader on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 11:14:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  nice one. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    perhaps a new title, "Under god?" Not on your life!  might work. Although I would be tempted to spice it up with a few choice 4 letter words.

    What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

    by agnostic on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 10:59:26 AM PST

  •  I changed the title (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peace voter, wader, gchaucer2

    Better or worse?

  •  Actually, the pledge (5+ / 0-)

    did not originally contain the words "under god".  Francis Bellamy, Baptist Minister and Christian Socialist originally wrote:

    I Pledge Allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

    "Intelligent minds believe only in lost causes, realizing that all others are merely effects." -e.e. cummings

    by Super Grover on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 11:06:45 AM PST

  •  I was a child when they added those 2 words. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, gchaucer2, Super Grover

    Didn't say them then, don't now.  (I was raised in a secular humanist family)

    As to the rest of the is a method of creating unity and solidarity through the use of ritual and symbolism.   That solidarity can then be used for multi choice purposes.    As a child I liked that feeling of unity.  As an adult I am wary of it and resist emotional manipulation...particularly if it is used to bypass truth.

    I agreed with teacherken.  

  •  Sometime I should (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, DaNang65, Super Grover

    post the "Pledge of Allegiance to Waterbury" CT that had to be recited back in the '20s-'30s.  Hilariously ridiculous and interminable.

  •  This Atheist thanks you.......... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, boofdah, Sadameatsit, sulthernao

    the pledge has always bothered me.

    Savez-vous quelque bien qui console du regret d'un monde?

    by DawnoftheRedSun on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 11:09:32 AM PST

  •  Since I have to cross my fingers (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, hippie bitch, sulthernao

    (metaphorically speaking) when I say the Pledge, I don't really get into it.  The "under God" bit is a big part of that.  Also there is something about it that is too much like a loyalty oath.  The people in authority who order you to recite the Pledge always seem to me to be getting off on it (making you do it) a little too much.

    On the other hand, I love singing "The Star Spangled Banner" and they never let you sing it.  There is always a soloist who is supposed to be the only one allowed to sing.  I always sing along anyway.

    Light is seen through a small hole.

    by houyhnhnm on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 11:16:03 AM PST

  •  to the flag? (6+ / 0-)

    Leaving God aside, why are we pledging allegiance to a flag?  Every two-bit dictatorship has a flag.  The President doesn't pledge allegiance to the flag, nor do our members of Congress, military, foreign service...they all pledge to uphold and defend the Constitution.

    That's what the pledge for citizens should do as well.  Something like:

    I pledge allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America, and to the..etc.

    Perhaps we want to add the "protect and defend...against all enemies, foreign and domestic" language in every oath except th President's as well.

    ----------- "Decisions are made by those who show up"

    by rkolker on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 11:28:03 AM PST

  •  The Phrase "nation under God" Is From Lincoln's (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Batbird, hippie bitch, watershed

    Gettysburg Address, so it was an easy paste into the pledge by people highlighting our superiority to Godless communism.

    As I like to say, as a result, God very literally divided "one nation indivisible."

    "Under the Constitution." I love it.

    And it's the God's truth.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 11:36:45 AM PST

  •  I don't believe in the Pledge, period. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hippie bitch

    Its entire nature is coercive.  Why should anyone demand a spoken "promise" from me to be loyal to my country?  As an atheist the "God" part just makes it worse and turns it from something distasteful into an attack on my First Amendment freedom of religion.  A country where loyalty isn't assumed until evidence is seen otherwise is paranoid.  

  •  Great diary, thanks for posting. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Years ago I read an op-ed from a Seventh Day Adventist pastor. His position on separation of Church and State was qutie interesting and to me quite surprising. I've thought a lot about it over the years.  Basic thrust of his argument was that even amongst Christian religions, the beliefs are different. To which "Christian" denominatoin are we referring, when the US is referenced as a "Christian" nation? His argument was that the "State" should never be involved in "Church" and surprisingly, that "Church" should stay out of the "State". A view I agree with - but did not expect to see being advanced by a pastor. (In Florida most - not all, but most - pastors are very much involved in "State".)

    After twelve years in a Catholic school, I abhor organized religion.  Believe that no one has a lock on the "truth" and that religion is personal not national.

    Really appreciate the thought and sentiment of the diarist.  

    •  State out of Church (0+ / 0-)

      that is, keeping politics out of the church was what the founding fathers intended. They thought politics would corrupt their religion. It is still true today. Preachers telling their congregations how to vote. The founders would roll over in their graves.

  •  I also don't like the words to the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Donald Drennon

    star spangled banner.

    Rockets red glare.
    Bombs bursting in air

    Surely, the United States has more to be proud of than bombing and killing people.

    It reminds me of the bible.  So much killing and violence.

    After the past eight years, I truely don't know if I believe in God, or not.

    I went to church every day prior to eight years ago.

    Now I ask.

    Would a loving father actually tell his child, :If you don"t do what I tell you to do, I am going to burn you for ever and ever without ceasing.?"

    I can't like a god like that.

    I think I like the God of the American Indian. Honesty, integrity, and love and respect of the environment.

    •  Well, they were British bombs & rockets... (0+ / 0-)

      ...but your point is well-taken.  

      I have always preferred "America the Beautiful".  I find the part about "Crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea" words we can all live by.

       After 9/11 I found the penultimate verse particularly appropriate:

      O beautiful for patriot dream
      That sees beyond the years
      Thine alabaster cities gleam
      Undimmed by human tears.

      I'm Ben Bernanke and I'm going to spank you.

      by Donald Drennon on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 12:34:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  As a piece of poetry, the Pledge sounds better (0+ / 0-)

    with the words "under God" removed.  The whole sentence just flows better.  Say it with me now: "... and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."  It is much more powerful that way (probably because that is the way it was originally written) and is the way I originally learned it.

  •  I always found it too weird say it in public. (0+ / 0-)

    When I was growing up in the fifties, I was taught that one's religious (and political) sentiments should be kept private. For that reason, even when we were members of a Baptist church in the South--until I saw some extremely unChristian behavior at the First Baptist Church of Atlanta during the Civil Rights movement and got as far away from the church as I could as soon as I was out on my own--I always used the "under God" part as an excuse to take a deep breath so I could say the last words loudly, "indivisible, with liberty and justice for all!" It worked out well that way.

    But to this day, I do find it kind of obscene to say "under God" in the pledge, even for those who are super-Christians.

  •  Huh -- great minds think alike, and all that (0+ / 0-)

    I had been tinkering with a diary on this topic and finally finished it and pushed it out the chute today in response to Ken's diary.  I hadn't thought to look to see if there was another one on the Rec List, so I hadn't read it.  I'll leave mine up, as the reasoning and the approach to a similar end are different.

    The netroots is what the Letters to the Editor page wanted to be when it grew up.

    by Seneca Doane on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 01:04:45 PM PST

  •  some interesting info on the subject... (0+ / 0-)

    The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy (1855-1931), a Baptist minister, a Christian Socialist, and the cousin of Socialist Utopian novelist Edward Bellamy (1850-1898). Bellamy's original "Pledge of Allegiance" was published in the September 8th issue of the popular children's magazine The Youth's Companion as part of the National Public-School Celebration of Columbus Day, a celebration of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's discovery of America, conceived by James B. Upham.
    Bellamy's original Pledge read, "I Pledge Allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all."—Wikipedia

    Bellemy wanted kids to use what would become the Nazi salute when saying the pledge. I don't think that "christian socialist" is the same as "national socialist," but you never know about these things.

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