Time To Change The Pledge

Copyright 2003, 2006 by Edwin J. Pole II

"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."

The thirty-one words of the Pledge Of Allegiance have recently caused substantial turmoil in the legal and political community. The two words "under God" have been particularly controversial. The pledge was originally written by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister and Socialist, as part of a quadricentennial celebration for Columbus Day in 1892. He originally wanted to add "equality" to "liberty and justice." Some think that he didn't because he knew that the National Education Association, who was sponsoring the celebration, opposed equality for minorities and women. It may also be the case that his definition of equality as a Socialist concept was antithetical to the correct interpretation as equality before the law.

The pledge was first published in the September 8th, 1892, issue of "The Youth's Companion", the leading family magazine of the day. Originally, the recitation of the Pledge was included in a flag raising ceremony with a Nazi-style salute. Bellamy's original pledge was changed in October of 1892, in 1923 and in 1924 by the National Flag Conference. The 1924 version of the pledge was officially adopted by Congress on June 22, 1942, and added to the US Flag Code. In December, 1942, Congress changed the ritual, substituting the placement of the right hand over the heart for the salute apparently due to embarrassment by the similarity to the Nazi salute. In 1954, Congress, succumbing to a campaign by the Knights of Columbus, a Roman Catholic men's organization, added the words "under God."

There are two flaws to the pledge that have caused much difficulty. The inclusion of "under God" has caused much of the controversy. More subtle but more important is that the pledge is primarily to the flag. The "Republic for which it stands" and the principles under which the Republic was founded come as afterthoughts. These flaws left the pledge open to challenge by atheists and even some religionists who strictly interpret a prohibition against idol worship. It has also added to an unfortunate tendency by patriots to mistake the flag for the country and has allowed political charlatans and jingoists to wrap themselves in the flag to deflect criticism.

Despite what many would have us believe, we are a secular nation. We are not "under God" except as a choice we are free to make as individuals. We are guaranteed a republican form of government at the national and state levels by the US Constitution. The indivisible nature of the union has been settled politically, legally, and on the battlefield although the sovereign nature of each state is still accepted. The liberty of the individual citizen is enshrined in the very marrow of our understanding of the nature and purpose of government. We represent equal, unbiased justice as a figure with a blindfold.

The pledge should be changed to eliminate the lately-added, lamentable reference to god. It was inserted by a cowardly Congress, under pressure from a religious organization, at a time when we were faced by a dangerous challenge from an inimical power based on another religion, communism. The reference to the flag should be eliminated and replaced by that to which we should be pledged. These are the Republic and it's fundamental principles, indivisibility, state sovereignty, individual liberty, and equal justice. In this spirit, the pledge should be changed as follows.

"I pledge allegiance to the Republic of the United States of America and to the principles for which it stands, one indivisible nation of sovereign states with liberty and equal justice for all."


"The Pledge of Allegiance, A Short History", Copyright 1992 by Dr. John W. Baer, http://history.vineyard.net//pledge.htm

"PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE, QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS" by Dr. John W. Baer, http://pledgeqanda.com

"Our Flag, History of the Pledge of Allegiance", http://www.legion.org/?section=our_flag&subsection=flag_history&content=flag_history


"The Strange Origin of the Pledge of Allegiance", By John W. Baer, http://archive.aclu.org/news/move/pledgeorigin.html

"The Story of the Pledge of Allegiance", http://www.flagday.org/Pages/StoryofPledge.html