Religion in Education: The Pledge of Allegiance
Since 1892, our country’s expression of loyalty and nationalism has been the Pledge of Allegiance. Written by Baptist minister Francis Bellamy, our nation’s pledge started out being published in the September issue of The Youth’s Companion, the Reader’s Digest of the day. Bellamy was the chairman of a committee of state superintendents of education in the National Education Association, and as such was in charge of planning a Columbus Day ceremony for the public schools. Part of the ceremony he planned involved a flag raising ceremony, while the children recited his pledge. The original words of the pledge as written by Bellamy are as follows: “I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” In 1923, the National Flag Conference changed the words from “to my flag” to “to the flag of the United States of America.” Bellamy did not like this change, but he was ignored. The pledge was edited once again in 1954 after Bellamy’s death after a campaign by the Knights of Columbus to include “Under God.” While Bellamy was not alive to see this change, his granddaughter made a statement that he would not have approved of the change. After these two changes, we have the pledge that is now recited in almost every public school in the country: “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.” Now that the phrase “under God” was added to the pledge, it took on a whole new role. Instead of just being an expression of loyalty and nationalism, it also became a public prayer. The justification for the addition of this phrase was given by the House with the following statement: “From the time of our earliest history our peoples and our institutions have reflected the traditional concept that our Nation was founded on a...
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