A Little History
March 3, 2014
“At a Washington church service in 1954, Rev. George Docherty told the congregation that the pledge [of allegiance] lacked a vital element. It failed to address ‘the characteristic and definitive factor in the American way of life.’ Where the Communists were atheists, Americans cherished their religious freedom. But, as Docherty explained, ‘the pledge as now written could just as easily be recited by little Soviet children to their hammer and sickle flag.’ To rectify that shortcoming, the rector proposed adding the phrase ‘under God.’ His plea had a special importance, for among those in his congregation that morning were President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his wife, Mamie.
“Docherty was not the first to avow the central place on the deity in America’s cold war crusade….They owed their inspiration to Abraham Lincoln, who at Gettysburg had said, ‘this nation, under God, shall a new birth of freedom.’ . . . .According to President Eisenhower, the phrase ‘under God’ would serve the United States as another of ‘those spiritual weapons’ in the battle against Communism, who ‘materialistic way of life’ had deadened millions of mind and soul. Congress embraced the pledge modification…..Representative Louis Rabaut, who sponsored the pledge amendment, asserted ‘the Soviet Union would not and could not….place in its patriotic ritual an acknowledgement that their nation exists ‘under God.’ And to nail the divine coonskin to the wall, Congress added a requirement that rather than ‘E Pluribus Unum,’ all U.S. currency would bear the motto, ‘In God We Trust.’ In that way, faith in God joined the A-bomb on the frontline of the nation’s defenses.”
America’s Uncivil Wars, Mark Lytle, pp. 13-14]
Just a brief note: These people, allegedly inspired by Lincoln at Gettysburg, passed over his assertion that the nation would have – and therefore obviously needed – “a new birth of freedom.” What about the original birth of freedom? It had, apparently, miscarried, or so it would seem. In any case, it was defective.
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