“Under God” is out of date

Why the phrase should be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance

Leo Hickey, staff writer

The Pledge of Allegiance is recited by millions of Americans on a daily basis. There are, however, two words within the pledge that don’t seem to belong. In the United States, the separation between church and state is an important concept of democracy. America has been heavily focused on Christianity since it began, with many early settlers entering the country for the first time in order to be able to freely practice their religions. In early America, faith and politics were heavily intertwined; the vast majority of political decisions were influenced heavily by religion and religious beliefs.

As time went on, more effort began to be put into separating faith from government institutions, a concept that would go on to be called “separation of church and state” The gap between religion and governmental systems in America has only grown, and we are now a long way from citing biblical passages in governmental settings. For this reason, the inclusion of the phrase ‘under God’ within the pledge of allegiance is unacceptable in modern America because it is inconsistent with modern standards of religious separation.

So why, then, does the pledge include this phrase, an inclusion that so directly contradicts the modern concepts of secularity within the government? The answer, it turns out, is that the pledge didn’t always include the religious reference. The original wording was simply “One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” However, a series of decisions made in 1950s America eventually led to president Eisenhower officially adding the phrase in a bill passed in 1954. Eisenhower, was very religious himself (Eisenhower’s presidency also saw “In God, we trust” adopted as America’s official motto). In adding the phrase, Eisenhower was pushing his own religion on the whole nation.

At the time the bill was passed, the Cold War was raging, and there was a popular belief that promoting religious practices was important to fight back against ‘atheist’ communist forces. Pew Research Institute explains in 2013 that “many members of Congress reportedly wanted to emphasize the distinctions between the United States and the officially atheistic Soviet Union.”

Thus, much of the desire to amend the pledge came from a historic feud, a concern that is not relevant to the modern day. The opposite is true; in fact, the inclusion of the words in the pledge only sets back progress by forcing religion upon the public sphere. The pledge is a statement about the relationship between the United States and its people and should be completely separate from any faith-based beliefs that the citizens hold. Although many of the people who worked to change the pledge had the best of intentions in their actions, the actions do not meet with today’s standards.

The argument can be made that the word “God” isn’t inherently Christian, and thus can refer to any faith. While this may be true in theory, it ignores the history of the action, as the government officials that passed the amendment to the pledge were Christian themselves, no doubt thinking of the Christian God when the phrase was added. If the reference to faith really was meant to be universal, the words would have been chosen more carefully.

For these reasons, action should be taken to remove the phrase “Under God” from the pledge of allegiance as soon as possible. Although some may argue that the words have historic value, history can be preserved in less intrusive ways. Regardless of religious opinion, Americans should agree that there is no value to this overlap of religious and political authority.