|1899 Pledge (Public Domain)|
Although Massachusetts atheists may be rallying around the flagpole, chances are they won't be saying the Pledge of Allegiance
in its present entirety.
USA TODAY reports that Massachusetts' highest court received a challenge recently "from atheists who want the pledge banned in schools statewide." In particular, it is the phrase "one nation under God" that they feel is not only discriminatory toward those who
believe otherwise, but also in violation of "the equal rights amendment in the state's constitution."
Wikipedia explains that "the Pledge has been modified four times" since its original 1892 composition by Francis Bellamy. Although Bellamy was a minister who had been raised as a staunch Baptist, his Pledge said nothing about God. It simply read: "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
It was President Eisenhower who decided in 1954 that the Pledge must become more religious. He added the words "under God" in order to "combat" the perceived threat of secular Communism.
Ironically, Bellamy himself was a "Christian socialist" who was eventually run off the pulpit for his sermons about "the equal distribution of economic resources" (a concept that he believed Jesus taught).
Copyright September 5, 2013 by Linda Van Slyke All Rights Reserved