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Education, Teaching, and Public Schools - Debate Over Religion in the Pledge of Allegiance

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The Debate Over Religion in the Pledge of Allegiance


"I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the Republic, for which it stands, one nation, under Congress, the Supreme Court, the Declaration of Independence, our founding fathers, and the President, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Francis Bellamy wrote the Pledge of Allegiance in 1892 (Baer). He did this in the memory of the 400th anniversary of Columbus discovering America ("The Pledge"). In 1954, Congress added the words, under God to the pledge; this was done for the differentiation of the United States from the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Recently, there has been great controversy about the words "under God" existing in the nations Pledge of Allegiance. Michael Newdow, a California atheist, brought this case to court. His objection was that his daughter was being forced to listen to her classmates recite the pledge. Newdows goal was to restore the pledge back to its original 1892 version so that people were not obligated to support a religion that they did not believe (E.P. News).

There are many rebuttals to the case; however, there are many indispensable arguments why this case is considered legit by a courts ruling as well. The nations founding fathers wrote the pledge, the majority of the United States is religious, the separation of church and state has not been complied with throughout the United States, and no one is required to say or listen to the pledge; so, removing the words "under God" from The Pledge of Allegiance is not understandable.

According to Morse, when Congress approved the addition of the words "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance, the decision was not done in order to profess religion towards the people of the United States. The founding fathers intended the insertion of God in the pledge to establish what was to be considered a body of people having authority. Placing God in the pledge was thought of as a term that could be applied to all religions and creeds; thus, the word God would be describing something more than just material existence.

Building the basis of the United States was the founding fathers of the nation. They were not all necessarily under a Christian belief; nonetheless, they did wish for the people of the United States to have morals and values (Williams).

On the contrary, some people do not feel that the nation should follow what the founding fathers thought and did. Gewertz states, "We decide to keep these sayings or traditions in play just because they were the values of our founding fathers. I have to say that not all the values of our founding fathers are values I want to embody."

Despite the fact that the founding fathers assumed the existence of an almighty power, they also protected the right of the people to believe or not. Gewertz does not agree with all ideas of the founding fathers, but he also says, "the phrase under God is in keeping with the intentions of the Founding Fathers. They anchored their thinking in the idea of a higher law in order to ensure that all power does not reside in the state." Agreeing with Gewertz, Cameron thinks that the founding fathers would not be too happy with the way things are going now.

Furthermore, in recognition of the words "under God" being added to the Pledge of Allegiance, President Eisenhower told of how thankful he was for the action to take place. He believed that the words would remind Americans that they needed to remain humble, and "under God" would keep moral principles in their minds. He also says that it was under which the nation was founded ("How the words").

Consequently, the founding fathers have given citizens a great place to live, along with freedom. Since they started a great nation and their actions have continued to be positively effective, why is there any reason to mess with something that is going so well? The people of the United States should respect and honor them, considering the obstacles they had to overcome to make the nation what it is today.

From the time the nation was founded until the present, the United States has been under the influence of religion. In turn, the majority of the United States citizens are religious. Still, the minority is controlling the serious issue of banning the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance. Quoting Dr. D. James Kennedy, E.P.News wrote, "that the complaint of one atheist could conceivably cause the Pledge of Allegiance to be removed from every school classroom in this nation is a violation of the fundamental principle of our Constitution." In the case of Newdow vs. Congress, the Judge stated that it had been a while since the majoritys religious beliefs had been gone against. The greater part of the United States is religious and has no problem with the nations pledge. Nevertheless, everyone in the United States has the right to be heard, even if he is part of a minority.

Whether in majority or minority, everybody should feel as though they are part of the United States. If the words "under God" were considered religious, then the words "under no God" would be considered non-religious. The use of "under no God" would tell believers that they are outsiders; similarly, the use of "under God" says to unbelievers that they are the outsiders. With this, no one will ever be pleased with either version of the pledge. In court and throughout many controversies of the world, majority has always ruled. The majority of citizens wish for the pledge to remain the same.

While the individuals of the minority are fighting against the Pledge of Allegiance, they are still freely and willingly spending and making money. What is ironic about them doing this is that imprinted on the United States currency are the words "In God We Trust". It is not understandable why these people have not decided to stop making money, since they no longer will recite the nations Pledge of Allegiance.

Along with this, witnesses are sworn in on the Holy Bible. The government requires people do this before questioning, so why is the issue of the pledge being made into such a conflicting subject? Government officials pray before meetings, Congress and many state legislatures begin their meetings with a prayer, the government has a designated chaplain, the Supreme Court starts by saying, "God save the United States and this honorable court", and for many years there has been a National Day of Prayer (Soucy). The issue of the Pledge of Allegiance becoming such a debate is not consistent with the other ways the government is doing things.

The "Bible" to the United States government is the Constitution. The Constitution is full of laws and rules that a state, nation, and providence are required to follow ("Constitution"). It is also stated in the Constitution that everyone has the freedom of speech and that there will be a separation between church and state. Together with this, the minority has a logical reason and defense for their case; but, why are other issues relating to religion not being debated? Why is their focus the Pledge of Allegiance? There are countless other circumstances within the government when there is reference to God, which have caused no conflicting debates. Yet, now, things never once thought of are being brought up.

For instance, the United States has national songs that speak of God. "God Bless America", and "America the Beautiful" are two of the many songs that refer to God (E.P.News). If "under God" is excluded from the pledge, then will the nation have to change the national songs and procedures that the government has been following for years?

Just as no one is required to sing these songs, no one is required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Some people, including Michael Newdow, believe that lack of religion in schools is indirectly teaching children to not be religious, resulting in a change of morals and values. Quite the opposite, there are those who believe mixing religion and state gets in the way of peoples religious rights("Religion"). While saying the pledge, some choose to salute the flag, and others choose to stand ("The Flag"). It makes no difference if people wish to pray in school or recite the Pledge of Allegiance; it is their own personal choice and their own personal doing.

Whether someone chooses to recite the pledge or not, he needs to know the true intention of the pledge. It is supposed to be thought of as a sworn dedication to what the flag represents: indivisibility, unity, liberty, justice, and that the nation is "under God". This is identical to saying that the United States is a nation "under Buddha" or any other spiritual being (Newdow vs. Congress). It is not declared that the nation is supposed to follow under the Christian God, "under God" just signifies that the nation is under a greater power than that of the state.

"I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the Republic, for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." Congress made the right decision when they chose to add the two of the most valuable words to the Pledge of Allegiance. The nations founding fathers would be proud to know that what they had wanted for the United States stayed the same. Taking into consideration the majority of the citizens, they would agree as well. There is no reason for modifying the nations procedures and songs, since there was no intention of religious meaning in the first place. Besides, no one is forced or required to participant in anything that he does not want to do. The pledge was written a certain way for a specific reason. Every citizen is given the choice to whether or not he wishes to recite the pledge; what is your choice?

Works Cited

Baer, Dr. John W. "The Pledge of Allegiance: A Short Story." PledeQandA. 1992.
21 Oct. 2003. .
Cameron. "The Poor Pledge". Amidst a Tangled Web. 26 June 2002. 22 Oct.
2003. .
"Constitution". New Standard Encyclopedia. 5th ed. 2002
E.P. News. "Pledge of Allegiance Unconstitutional". 21 Oct. 2003
.
"The Flag". New Standard Encyclopedia. 7th ed. 2002
Gewertz, Ken. "Heavyweights Battle Over The Pledge of Allegiance". Harvard Gazette Archives. 26 Sept. 2002. 22 Oct. 2003.. "How the words 'UNDER GOD' came to be added to the Pledge of Allegiance the Flag". Earthlink.com. 2003. 21 Oct.2003..
Morse, Chuck. "One Nation Under Kofi?" City Metro Enterprises. 2000-2002. 22
Oct. 2003. < http://www.chuckmorse.com/one_nation_under_kofi.html>.
"Newdow v. Congress". About.com. 2003 21 Oct. 2003.
"Religion in Public Schools". About.com. 2003. 21 Oct. 2003
. "Soapbox Archive". hotspots. 2002. 22 Oct. 2003. . Soucy, Melissa. "Athesist Discusses Challenge to Pledge of Allegiance". The Galaxy. 23 Feb. 2003. 22 Oct. 2003..
"The Pledge of Allegiance". Home of the Heros. 1999-2003. 27 Oct. 2003. . Williams, Donald M. "Our Freedom as Laid Out by Our Founding Fathers". Today's Modern Mother. 14 Aug. 2003. 22 Oct. 2003. .


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