Tonight after another long day in class being too tired to write anything original I am re-posting an older article about religious rights. This is done in response to the host of the Fox News program “The Five” Dana Perino and Bob Beckle who agreed that American citizens who are Atheists should “leave the country” if they didn’t agree with the current version of the Pledge of Allegiance which has the added phase “one Nation under God” in it.
The fact that this was not in the original Pledge written by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist Minister and Christian Socialist but added in 1954 is lost on them. Likewise lost on them is the fact that for a Christian the obligation to recite the Pledge is nowhere found in Scripture, the Creeds, Councils or even in the writings of the Protestant Reformers is unimportant.
Likewise the fact that the requirement to recite the Pledge is not found in the Constitution or the writings of any of the founders of this country is lost on these Taliban like talking heads. In fact it was John Leland, the Virginia Baptist who lobbied Thomas Jefferson and James Madison who was key in ensuring the right of religious freedom as well as the right not to believe in anything that enshrines greater freedom as well as loyalty than any Pledge using the name of God to swear its citizens to loyalty to the State. Bellamy’s original text which was changed by President Eisenhower and Congress in 1954 was simple. It said: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Funny, even though Bellamy was a Baptist Minister who was profoundly evangelical and influenced by the Second Great Awakening did not include the “under God” phrase should make one think. What binds us together as Americans is not our religious belief and those who insist that non-beleviers deny their beliefs have totally misunderstood what our founders built. Bellamy wrote why he carefully wrote the Pledge, He said: “It began as an intensive communing with salient points of our national history, from the Declaration of Independence onwards; with the makings of the Constitution… with the meaning of the Civil War; with the aspiration of the people…
“The true reason for allegiance to the Flag is the ‘republic for which it stands’. …And what does that last thing, the Republic mean? It is the concise political word for the Nation – the One Nation which the Civil War was fought to prove. To make that One Nation idea clear, we must specify that it is indivisible, as Webster and Lincoln used to repeat in their great speeches. And its future?
“Just here arose the temptation of the historic slogan of the French Revolution which meant so much to Jefferson and his friends, ‘Liberty, equality, fraternity’. No, that would be too fanciful, too many thousands of years off in realization. But we as a nation do stand square on the doctrine of liberty and justice for all…”
Somehow I think that Bellamy was closer to the ideals of our founders than Perino and Beckle.
“Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other sects?” James Madison
“We believe that institutionally Christianity should be the official religion of the country, that its laws should be specifically Christian” David Chilton (leader in Christian Reconstructionist and Dominionist Theology)
We love to talk about religious liberty in the United States, especially we who are of the Christian faith. In fact religious liberty is deeply entwined in the story of the United States of America. We love to call attention to those brave souls that came to North American search of religious liberty to the point that sometimes we fail to realize that we have moved from history to myth. The story of the Massachusetts Bay Colony…
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