The American Humanist Association has launched a campaign asking all Americans to sit down during Pledge of Allegiance until Congress removes the phrase “under God.”
This isn’t the first time the American Humanist Association has tried to get “under God” struck. Their efforts imploded on the rocks of reason, when in May they lost a lawsuit demanding the pledge’s ban in Massachusetts. They claimed that the pledge discriminates against unbelievers, but the court ruled that, since recitation even in public schools is voluntary, no one’s rights are being violated. A similar suit is now underway in New Jersey. American Humanist legal spokesman David Niose says, “Through the daily pledge exercise, our public schools are defining patriotism by promoting God-belief while stigmatizing atheist and humanist children.”
It seems to me that atheist and humanist children can learn a valuable lesson about the history of their freedom to not participate just by being exposed to the pledge as is!
What the American Humanists fail to acknowledge is that the very freedoms they have—the freedom to be an atheist, the freedom to plaster the country with billboards encouraging citizens to protest against the national pledge, even the freedom to freely refrain from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to this country without risk retaliation or punishment—are based in the biblical worldview of the nation’s founders. Despite the variety of religious views and philosophies they held, their biblical worldview inspired them to believe that the freedoms human beings have rest in our equal standing in the sight of a Creator God. Just read the opening words of the United States Declaration of Independence:
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.Benjamin Franklin declared his belief that God’s hand was instrumental in the founding of the United States as part of a famous speech to the deadlocked Constitutional Convention in 1787:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?Moreover, the Bill of Rights—the source of our First Amendment prohibition of government established religion—came to be thanks to the ministrations of an Anglican Christian (James Madison) when he saw that Baptist Christians were being fined and otherwise persecuted in some places for belonging to the wrong kind of church. This injustice ultimately prompted Madison to author the Bill of Rights and to pursue guaranteed religious freedom for Virginians and eventually for the whole nation.*
The belief that the hand of the biblical God was instrumental in the founding of this country and that morality sprang from Him is part of this nation’s historical roots. If the American Humanists choose not to believe in God, that is their choice, but the people who ensured them the right to freely and openly declare their disbelief guaranteed them that right because of their biblical worldview.
The phrase “under God” was added in 1954 to the pledge, which had been adopted by Congress in 1942, to emphasize the acknowledged role of God in the roots of this country in contrast to the atheistic roots of the Communist philosophy governing nations with which the United States was then engaged in a Cold War.
Even humanist and atheist children need to know their history.
“Under God” in the pledge reflects accurately the history of a nation that, for all its flaws, has long been a beacon of freedom because of the biblical worldview of the people who founded it. Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is certainly voluntary and should always remain so, but pledging that you have allegiance to your country, which historically was founded on biblical principles by people willing to acknowledge their Creator’s existence, is not the same thing as pledging allegiance to God. Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ is an entirely different matter!
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.
* For the complete history of the Christian roots and biblical basis of our Bill of Rights, see Michael Farris, From Tyndale to Madison: How the Death of an English Martyr Led to the American Bill of Rights (Nashville: B & H Publishing, 2007).