The Sacrilege of the Pledge of Allegiance UNDER GOD

As an Atheist, a Jew, and a patriot, I Cannot Recite America’s Pledge of Allegiance.

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

The original pledge

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 pledge as rewritten in the McCarthy era. 

The author of the pledge, Francis J. Bellamy, was a socialist.  Bellamy’s goal was patriotism, not religion.  His pledge was never intended to invoke anyone’s religion.  Originally written in 1892. the idea of all Americans, bringing Americans together.  The oath taken while saluting the flag was an effort to address the lingering pain of the civil war.  In 1892 the pledge was also intended and as a way of recognizing the patriotism of new citizens coming to the US.

American Children saluting the Flag before 1942, The Bellamy Salute consisted of each person extending his or her right arm straight forward.  With palms outstretched and fingers pointing toward the flag, Americans recited: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Bellamy’s words came with a ritual for saluting the flag.  Putting your right palm forward and raising your arm toward the flag became part of America/  Then, on the eve of World War II, the US Congress was forced to change how Americans salute the flag.

Back in 1892, the US was still recovering from the civil war.  Reconstruction of the south, the affliction of the KKK, and the arrival of millions of new Americans were all happening at the same time.   Youth’s Companion, a magazine, was on a crusade to put American flags in every school.  A writer for the magazine, Bellamy, composed the first version of the Pledge along with instructions for carrying out the salute.
Forty years later, came fascism.  Patriotic  Italians and Germans began saluting Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler.  “Heil Hitler!” became not just a patriotic gesture but the way of saying hello or goodbye.   America was not free of this disease.  Patriotism was core to fascism and newspapers and newsreels showed thousands of people saluting Der Fuehrer and il Duce.  Charlie Chaplin made the salute ludicrous in 1940 when he used it in the satiric movie, “The Great Dictator. ”  Despite Chaplin, many Americans saw their national Christian identity as patriotism.  But then came Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. I was born 24 days later on January 1, 1942 and soon after my father volunteered to join the US Army. Later he led a medical corp through the fence to give care to the victims of Buchenwald.
The overwhelming number of Americans opposed fascism and just before Christmas 1942, Congress addressed Chaplin’s satire by amending the  Flag Code to say that the Pledge of Allegiance should “be rendered by standing with the right hand over the heart.”
Sadly, after the warthe flag salute became a religious issue.  The Republican Party tied religion to the American identity.  Joe McCarthy took his war against godless Communism to the pledge.  Where the author of the pledge,  was a Christian and an socialist, the Republicans were desperate to undermine the New Deal by tying social reform to Communism.   For the GOP, Christianity was a form of capitalism.  Communism, with its own religion of state atheism, was the devil.  Image result for chaplin great dictator heilUnder pressure from Joe McCarthy and his followers,  Dwight D. Eisenhower added the phrase “under God” just after “one nation.” Eisenhower declared: “In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war.”
So today what do I do?  I am very patriotic but not a Christian.  Eisenhower’s oath demeans my patriotism.  That patriotism is deeply rooted in the origins of the United States.  If it were not for the creation of America by Jefferson, Madison, and their colleagues, my family would have been stuck in Europe and likely exterminated.  I literally revere this country.

Asking me to swear allegiance to an American god is offensive to the ideals of our founders.  I can put a hand over my heart, I can swear allegiance to the flag and the country, but nor to someone else’s god.

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