Is the A.C.L.U. Removing “Under God”?

Dr. John M. Adams, Moral Action Executive Director

The American Civil Liberties Union (A.C.L.U.) and the Americans United for Separation of Church and State have underlying plans to go after two small words in the Pledge of Allegiance of the American flag.  For some this may seem insignificant, but for Christian believers it is of immense importance.  This is a battle worth fighting.  The Massachusetts Supreme Court – Judicial Court is conducting a hearing of a non-religious families’ objection to their children being required to recite the pledge daily in the classroom.  The case is Doe vs Acton – Boxborough Regional School District.

When one recites the Pledge of Allegiance, they are expressing loyalty to the federal flag and the republic of the United States of America.  The Pledge was originally composed by the Baptist Minister, Francis Bellamy, in 1892.  It was formally adopted as our American Pledge in 1942.

Wikipedia details Francis Bellamy’s recollection of the creation of the pledge.  Bellamy recalled “at the beginning of the 1890’s patriotism and national feelings was at an all-time low.  The time was ripe for a reawakening of simple Americanism.  We felt that there should be an American flag in every school house and church.”  The Pledge was first recited on Columbus Day, October 12, 1892, to coincide with the opening of the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois.

In 1952, Susan Anald wrote a letter to President Truman asking for the inclusion of the words, “under God” in the pledge.  These two words were incorporated in the Pledge in 1954 by President Eisenhower and a joint resolution of Congress.

There have been prominent legal challenges to remove the words “under God” since the 1950’s.  On March 11, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the words “under God” in the Pledge.  In a 2-1 decision, the court ruled that the words were of a ceremonial and patriotic nature and did not constitute an establishment of religion.  Judge Stephen Reinhardt dissented, writing that the state directed, teacher led daily recitation in schools of the amended “under God’ violates the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution.  He emphasized the complete separation of church and state.  As of today, all states except five (Hawaii, Iowa, Oklahoma, Vermont, and Wyoming) give time for the Pledge of Allegiance to be recited as part of the school day.

The reading of the Court findings  “Good News Club vs Milford Central School (2001) 533US98, 128 (J. Breyer) “What is relevant here is how the Pledge is likely to be perceived by “impressionable” school children.  School children would reasonably perceive the Pledge as expressing religious beliefs.”

The court case continues, “For public school teachers to lead school children in a ritual recital of the Pledge impermissibly communicates as far as the children are concerned, a message of government endorsement of religion.”

The A.C.L.U. and the American United for Separation of Church and State (A.U.) are determined to remove God from the American way of life.  From the Court case #02-1624 in the United States Supreme Court Elk Grove School District vs Michael NEWDOW, we have this vivid exchange of letters that appear in the Appendix of the Pledge of Allegiance argument between Mitsuo Murashige of Hawaii and United States President George W. Bush.  It truly illustrates the need to keep “under God” in the United States Pledge:

 

September 2002

The Honorable George W. Bush

President of the United States

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.

Washington, DC  20500

Dear President Bush,

Over 125 delegates and observers from the 37 Honpa Hongwanji Buddhist temples throughout the State of Hawaii assembled in Hilo, Hawaii on September 13-15, for its 41st State Federation of Honpa Hongwanji Lay Associations Convention.  The assembly deliberated on current issues and concerns relevant to the mission of the organization.  In the plenary session, one of the resolutions discussed was the “Resolution to Support the 9th Circuit Court’s Ruling on the Pledge of Allegiance.”  The resolution was unanimously passed.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2 to 1 that the reference to God, which was added in 1954, amounts to an official endorsement of mono-theism.  In Addition, the court ruled that both the 1954 amendment to the pledge and a California school district’s policy requiring teachers to lead children in the pledge violate the First Amendment prohibition against the establishment of a state religion.

A copy of the resolution is enclosed, along with additional historical facts in support of the resolution.

We hope you have the courage, as our founding fathers did, keeping in mind the articles of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, to support the correct decision of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, to educate others, and to remind the members of the Congress who may have forgotten and  may not be cognizant of the history of the Pledge of Allegiance and its amendments up to 1954.  Some members of the Congress may need to be reminded that their most important job is to protect and preserve the articles of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the foundation of the United States of America.

Sincerely,

In gassho,

Mitsuo Murashige, President

Hilo, Hawaii

THE WHITE HOUSE

WASHINGTON

November 13, 2002

Mitsuo Murashige and Associates

Hawaii State Federation of Honpa Hongawanji Lay Associates

Hilo, Hawaii

Dear Mitsuo Murashige and Associates:

Thank you for your letter regarding the Pledge of Allegiance.  I appreciate hearing your views and concerns.

As citizens recite the Pledge of Allegiance, we help define our Nation.  In one sentence, we affirm our form of government, our belief in human dignity, our unity as a people, our reliance on God.  During these challenging times, we are determined to stand for these words.

For more than two centuries, our flag has stood for a unified country.  When we pledge allegiance to our flag, Americans feel a renewed respect and love for all it represents.  We are thankful for our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  We are also grateful for our freedoms, which were protected by our Founding Fathers and defended by subsequent generations of brave Americans.

When we pledge allegiance to One Nation under God, our citizens participate in an important American tradition of humbly seeking the wisdom and blessing of Divine Providence.  Our Declaration of Independence proclaims that our Creator endowed us with inalienable rights, and our currency says, “In God We Trust.”  May we always live by that same trust, and may the Almighty continue to watch over the United States of America.

Thank you again for writing, and best wishes.

Sincerely,

George W. Bush

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