• 1892 - Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister working for the magazine Youth's Companion, composes this pledge:
    "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
    The Pledge is first recited in public schools in ceremonies timed to coincide with the opening of the World Columbian Exposition (Chicago World's Fair).
  • 1923 - The National Flag Conference changes "My flag" to "the flat of the United States."
  • 1924 - They add "of America"
  • 1942 - Congress adopts the Pledge of Allegiance ass the national pledge, to be said voluntarily.
  • 1948 - On Lincoln's Birthday (Feb. 12), Louis Bowman, a lawyer and the chaplain of the Illinois Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, leads it in a recitation of the Pledge that adds the words "Under God."
  • 1951 - The Board of Directors of the Knights of Columbus adopts a resolution urging inclusion of the words "under God."
  • President Eisenhower attends services at New York Avenue Presbyterian CHurch in Washington, D.C. (Lincoln's church). THe Rev. George Docherty's sermon asserts that Lincoln's phrase from the Gettysburg Address "under God" supplies the defining words that set the U.S.A. apart from other nations.
  • 1954 - Congress adds "Under God" to the pledge.
    President Eisenhower signs the Joint Resolution on Flag Day saying:
    "From this day forward millions of our schoolchildren will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural school house, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty. To anyone who truly loves America, nothing could be more inspiring than to contemplate the rededication of our youth, on each school morning, to our country's true meaning."
There was also speculation that it was an attempt to distinguish the U.S. from the "Godless" Soviet Union during the cold war.

Conclusion of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

American Flag Code:
According to the US Flag Code, we are to put our right hand over our heart and remove our hats unless we are in uniform.
This code is the guide for all handling and display of the Stars and Stripes. It does not impose penalties for misuse of the United States Flag. That is left to the states. Each state has its own flag law.
Flag Code | USFlag.org

Religious Issues:
There are several religious issues:
1. Strict Bible literalists object "under God" or not, because they believe you should not swear allegiance to any one or thing but God. (See some of the references below).
2. Atheists, Agnostics and non-monotheistic religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, ...) do not believe in the one "God". (See Court Challenges below)

Scripture References:
- The first and second commandments:
1. Worship no other God.
2. Make no images of God.
Exodus 20:1-6:

- Matthew 5:33-37:
"Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.' But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.All you need to say is simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one."

- Mark 12:13-17:
Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. They came to him and said, "Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren't swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax[a] to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn't we?"
But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. "Why are you trying to trap me?" he asked. "Bring me a denarius and let me look at it." They brought the coin, and he asked them, "Whose image is this? And whose inscription?"
"Caesar's," they replied.
Then Jesus said to them, "Give back to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's."
And they were amazed at him.

Court Challenges:
There have been several court challenges.
The cases in state courts follow unsuccessful challenges of the "under God" phrase in federal courts. The U.S. Supreme Court hasn't directly weighed in on the issue's merits, but several lower courts have rejected the argument that the phrase violates the Constitution's ban on government-established religion.

  • Prominent legal challenges in the 1950s were brought by the Jehovah's Witnesses, a group whose beliefs preclude swearing loyalty to any power other than God, and who objected to policies in public schools requiring students to swear an oath to the flag.
  • In a 2002 case brought by atheist Michael Newdow, whose daughter was being taught the Pledge in school, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the phrase "under God" an unconstitutional endorsement of monotheism when the Pledge was promoted in public school. In 2004, the Supreme Court heard Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, an appeal of the ruling, and rejected Newdow's claim on the grounds that he was not the custodial parent, and therefore lacked standing, thus avoiding ruling on the merits of whether the phrase was constitutional in a school-sponsored recitation.
  • In 2006, in the Florida case Frazier v. Alexandre, a federal district court in Florida ruled that a 1942 state law requiring students to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. As a result of that decision, a Florida school district was ordered to pay $32,500 to a student who chose not to say the pledge and was ridiculed and called "unpatriotic" by a teacher.
  • In 2014 A New Jersey couple have filed a law suit against the state's school district over the Pledge of Allegiance, arguing that the line "under God" discriminates against athiest children.
    The lawsuit is nearly identical to one brought in Massachusetts by an unidentified family there.

    "The current pledge practice marginalizes atheist and humanist kids as something less than ideal patriots, merely because they don't believe the nation is under God," said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Assn.
    See New Jersey humanists challenge 'under God' pledge in schools | Los Angeles Times

See Legal Challenges at Wikipedia

Pledge of Allegiance - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Separation of Church and State

last updated 19 Feb 2014