Indivisible

2002-06-27

Longtime readers of this blog know that I don't pay much attention to the news. Nevertheless, sometimes a big story will intrude on my consciousness. One such story is the recent court decision to declare the (American) Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional because it mentions God: "one nation, under God, indivisible". (Presumably that's the Christian god, not Allah or Shiva or Zeus or Mithras or Isis or whomever.) I must say that the reference to God made me uncomfortable when we recited the Pledge back in elementary school (at least, after I stopped believing in God at age 9 or so). It seems that the Pledge was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, a Christian Socialist. In 1954, after two years of lobbying by the Knights of Columbus (a Catholic organization), the U.S. Congress voted to add the words "under God" to the Pledge, probably under the influence of McCarthy-era fears of "godless Communists" infiltrating American society. Now we stand divided over those two words, with conservatives outraged that an official oath of allegiance might be stripped of its religious trappings. Personally I find the very concept of such an official oath to be suspect in the first place, but if we must have one, reference in it to the god of a particular religion is bound to introduce not unity but division. I suppose believers see it quite differently, though.


Peter Saint-Andre > Journal