One Nation Under God

The religious attributes of the Pledge of Allegiance have made their own little political controversy between the two parties.

Overused Republican line: "This country is built on Judeo-Christian principles. Taking God out of the Pledge of Allegiance truly contradicts everything that we are."

Overused Democrat line: "This country is built on the phrase 'home of the free.' What freedom does this home have if you're forced to pledge to a doctrine that's not your own?"

Okay, I made up the Democrat one- but that's what they're getting at. I've heard the Republican quote word for word at least 45 dozen times and the responses by the Democrats are way too wordy and boring. So I made it more concise and catchy. Thus, what we have so far is a distinct separation between the one-sided Republicans and the one-sided Democrats, both claiming the alternate party's solution undermines the history and heritage of the entire country.

And I guess you could say they're both right to some degree. Each argument has its own logical rhetoric that plays out effectively. And the result of that is the long, drug out debate that escalated into something worth writing about. And being as both arguments have their own sense of validity to them, I'm not going to pick a side or support one argument as more valid than the other. What I am going to do, is explain how absurd it is to have the debate at all.

To do so, let's look at the history of the Pledge of Allegiance. Francis Bellamy wrote the original version in 1892. The reason he wrote it, is because he was a children's writer, and he thought it nice to give the school teachers a small activity for Columbus day. It went like this: I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands- one nation indivisible- with liberty and justice for all. It was nice, simple, and actually kind of pleasant, and it was recited that day. And that would have been the end of it- you would have never knew it existed- except for the fact that the teachers thought it should become a Columbus day tradition.

Then in 1923, the Bellamy's personalized "my Flag" line was replaced with "The Flag of the United States of America" by the United States Flag Association... obviously. And this not only upped the public awareness of the pledge, but it encouraged further standardization of its routine memorizing and reciting in the classroom.

Fully aware that the added patriotism made it sounded like a communist gathering chant, Eisenhower signed Congress's legislation to put an "under God" in it. That happened in 1954 with the purpose of creating a 'we're not communists' distinction via the religious component.

And with more awareness added to it, this version was progressively becoming the obligated daily recital we know today. Now, I'm hesitant to believe that we're less intelligent than we were in 1954- but another explanation is hard to find, considering this chant is held in vastly higher regard now than it was back then. And it wasn't written to be so. The original author meant it to be a one-time-read for Columbus day. It was supposed to be pleasant, not a pledge. Pledges are weird.

Seriously, just listen to the name of it: The Pledge of Allegiance. It's spooky. I remember being in the sixth grade, mouthing the words to it with my right hand on my chest, looking around at the rest of the class doing the same thing. They weren't looking around like I was. They were all fixated on the flag. But we were all mouthing the words while kind of hum-mumbling until "America" and "for all." Everyone would add pronunciation to those words. And I remember back then thinking to myself how weird it was. A bunch of 11 year olds- and me, the 12 year old who was held back in the second grade- noncommittally mouthing a chant in unison out of pure obligation. You understand how bizarre this is right? I did when I was 12, so, I hope so.

But luckily, or by the Grace of God, one afternoon I saw a Chip'n'Dale's Rescue Rangers episode (it was a cartoon in my day) where they joined this cult that stole all their stuff. And Myers Elementary School didn't steal our stuff- but the rest of it was the exact same. So I used to pretend that they would steal all my belongings because I had nothing better to do. The moment the big hand hit the eight it was time to stand up nice and tall in preparation for "The Pledge." I'd usually put my milk money on the desk at that point while looking sorrowful. I had kind of a vivid imagination.

But I realized that pledges are designed for cults and neo-nazi conventions with exclusionary criteria. Nazi as more of a general term for weird, evil people in weird, evil organizations not regarded as cults. And I'm certainly not one of those people. So I preferred to imagine the hardships of culthood. And I actually had a lot of fun doing so. Granted, peculiar, borderline mental illness fun, but I enjoyed it.

The moral of the story is that pledges are weird and/or evil, and they're for weird and/or evil people. Or those with fantastic imaginations who are also weird. Summary: it's not normal, non-embarrassing, or healthy.

Question: Regarding the reason the pledge is valued more than it used to be: I think it's more historic than "we're less intelligent now." Would you agree with that?

Answer: No. I'd like that to be the case, but no. Historic means it's old and thus, grandfathered in. The modern version of the pledge- what started all of this by making it a pledge instead of a holiday tradition is about 50 years old. My grandfather is older than it. My dad is older than that and he's not even a grandfather. As a nation, if we were educated and/or free, by definition we would not have a pledge. It's creepy that we do. So when it becomes a topic of political debate regarding the words that are in the pledge, it's exceedingly saddening on both political spectrums.