Christianizing Our
Pledge Of Allegiance
Sharon Fair

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Sharon E. Fair"
Subject: Re: Request
Date: Thursday, March 15, 2001 7:32 PM

On June 14, 1954, Congress unanimously ordered the inclusion of the words "Under God" into the nation's Pledge of Allegiance. By this time, other laws mandating public religiosity had also been enacted, including a statute for all federal justices and judges to swear an oath concluding with "So help me God."

This is all I have right this moment on the Pledge. There is a piece on American Atheists' site called "The Pledge of Allegiance was God-Free until 1954," but the URL is bad.
http://www.atheists.org/flash.line/pledge.htm
I have asked them to fix it, but meanwhile, I have a copy of the article, "The Pledge of Allegiance was God-Free until 1954," in our Prayer and Arrogance in Alabama section.
http://www.positiveatheism.org/writ/moore03.htm#PLEDGE

Madalyn Murray O'Hair discussed this little-known bit of American history in her 1974 book Freedom Under Siege, The Impact of Organized Religion on Your Liberty and Your Pocketbook (J.P. Tarcher, Inc., Los Angeles). In Chapter Two, titled "Chronicles of Sanctity: The Role of the Churches in American History," O'Hair wrote:

Shortly after Eisenhower's first election, the Hearst newspaper chain began campaigning for the addition of the words "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance. The American Legion endorsed the idea, as, of course, did the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches. On June 14, 1954, the change of wording was passed into law by Congress without one dissenting vote; the pledge thus read:

"I pledge allegiance to the United States and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

The article continues by describing the spate of pro-religion legislation which resulted from the anti-atheist sentiments fueled by the fear of atheism generated during the McCarthy era, including (get this) the legislation allowing religious organizations to pay substantially less for postage than other nonprofits.

I went to school in 1960, and can remember our kindergarten teacher mentioning that they'd recently changed the Pledge of Allegiance and that she had trouble saying the new version. I can now only guess as to why she had trouble, but assumed for many years that it was merely because it was different. By the time I got out of grade school, I had endured some rather vicious antiatheist bigotry at the hands of several students and a teacher -- because I was neither Catholic nor Protestant and because and because I was caught not saying the morning prayer to the Christian Science godhead respectively -- and thus had stopped saying the Pledge altogether. It has never meant a thing to me since I realized that it is not patriotic but religious. I may be a proud American, but I am not a religious one. And I am not proud of the way my country has treated her atheistic citizens, nor am I proud of the fact that my country has effectively emasculated her most important source of glory, her First Amendment guarantee of Liberty of Thought brought about through the separation of religion from government.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Five years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

Graphic Rule

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Sharon E. Fair"
Subject: Re: Request
Date: Friday, March 16, 2001 4:55 PM

Very few people realize that much of the god-talk in our patriotic rhetoric was linked to the various "Great Awakenings" which occurred within American Christendom, and that the clergy, for the most part, opposed the notion of a secular government during the times when our government was founded. A common complaint back then was that of the first seven Presidents, not one could be even remotely considered a devout Christian. In 1776, church membership was a mere 17 percent: in 1965, it was a whopping 65 percent!
http://www.positiveatheism.org/writ/comand.htm#CHURCHGO

"In God We Trust" was slipped onto a few coins at the urging of busybody preachers while the rest of America was grappling with the Civil War. That floundered and died a few times, but was institutionalized (probably forever) when atheism became Public Enemy Number One during the McCarthy Era of the Cold War.

The terror of the Cold War era, when Communism (read: atheism) was the enemy which would either enslave us or obliterate us through an exchange of nuclear warfare, made it almost impossible to openly oppose the insertion of numerous pro-Christian and anti-atheist acts of legislation. The Cold War was as much about Christianity versus atheism as it was about America versus the Soviet Union. This is poignantly shown by the remarks of the various Soviet cosmonauts:

I don't see any god up here.
-- Yuri Gagarin, speaking from orbit in 1961

I am high in the sky, and still I do not see the face of god.
-- Gherman Titov, unconfirmed quip, a variant of which is often attributed to him as reminiscence after he landed

We experienced a minor "Great Awakening" during the 1980s, but I think the one we endure today will go down as a major one. This might be it for the Great American Experiment, but I will still fight because we have all seen that to entangle religion with government and to force people into involvement with religion has always been deadly.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Five years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

Graphic Rule

Graphic Rule

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