One nation under God.
Those words were added to our Pledge of Allegiance in 1954 by an act of Congress, which was signed into law on June 14 by President Eisenhower. The context in which those words were added are important. America was arguably at the height of the Cold War. As a nation we faced an existential threat. Children practiced the art of duck and cover in classrooms across the country fearing a nuclear attack from the U.S.S.R. Eisenhower reportedly prompted Congress to adopt the declaration “under God” after hearing a sermon on February 7, 1954 from the Reverend George M. Docherty, pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. In Docherty’s message, he noted that our pledge had no distinction from any other republic — in fact, it could be claimed and recited by the Soviets. What made our nation distinct was it was a nation not under man, but under God.
Our nation today is once again facing not just one existential threat, but many. Our children are not practicing drills for something that had never happened. Our children, our churches, our communities are now practicing emergency drills for terrorist attacks that are happening all too frequently here on our own soil.
Now is the time to stop those in government who have either in principle or in practice attempted to remove these two words, “under God” from public life. It is for this reason that I wrote a letter to Special Agent in Charge Jeff Sallet regarding his omission of “under God” from his reciting of the pledge in a call for unity on Monday at a press conference in Baton Rouge regarding the murder of three police officers on Sunday.
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As I said in the letter to him, “Sharing your desire for unity, I wanted to bring to your attention that in your reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance you omitted the fundamental element that has historically unified us, the fact that we are one nation under God. The omission may have been inadvertent, but it was noticeable and concerning given the steady attacks on religious liberty by the present administration.”
I asked Agent Sallet to correct the record, but he has not responded to me or to the press that has inquired about the glaring omission.
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