We’ve all seen the bumper sticker, especially in more conservative contexts, “…one nation, under God…” I saw a beautiful etching of this on the backlight of a car the other day. As I rode my motorcycle behind it, I ran through the Pledge in my mind and was struck by the irony of the movement to preserve it as it is.
What’s missing from those stickers is that next word in the Pledge, one overlooked, it seems, for poignancy, turning the pledge to the federal flag of this republic into something more dogmatic than adherence in its powerful suggestion.
Some history: The Pledge, written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, a Christian Socialist, was officially adopted by Congress in 1942.
Bellamy originally wrote, “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Notice what’s missing, keeping in mind Bellamy was a Baptist minister.
The words, “under God” came along a few years after its adoption. Louis Bowman campaigned, leading the Society of the Sons of the American Revolution in the Pledge adding those two words, claiming the influence found impetus in the Gettysburg Address.
It wasn’t until the threat of godlessness, that insurgent red communist movement of the early ‘50s, when official action was taken to include the submission to deity. Congress passed a bill making it so, shortly after President Eisenhower’s Presbyterian conversion.
And we’re all aware of burblings in recent years to restore the pledge back to its pre-1954 prose, the rhetoric of which is enough to raise the hair on the back of any polarized neck.
The Washington Post published an article by John Mark Reynolds, Why Evangelicals must stand up to anti-Mormon bigotry. It’s both inspiring an daunting.
Reynolds indicates the inherent betrayal of Christ’s exhortation to love one another when decrying Mormon bigotry. And his saying this is inspiring because when it comes to divisiveness among Christian movements, the chasm between Latter-day Saints and Evangelicals has been widening on both sides for years.
But it’s also daunting in that the very idea of God, that omnipotent embodiment of love and wisdom, that entity under whom we pledge allegiance, is what increases that chasm.
Think of it, the irony in the reason why Mitt Romney will likely not hold executive office for these United States is for those two words amended to the Pledge, rendering indivisible seemingly impossible.
We are divided, and not just under God.
Don’t get me started on, “…with liberty and justice for all.”