A banner with the words of the U. Pledge of Allegiance. In the following years, the Knights made significant contributions to the Catholic Church in America. In , a Catholic advertising program launched by Knights in Missouri was officially adopted by the Order as the Religious Information Bureau.
In others, church influence on public policy is far weaker. Nations under God argues that where religious and national identities have historically fused, churches gain enormous moral authority—and covert institutional access. These powerful churches then shape policy in backrooms and secret meetings instead of through open democratic channels such as political parties or the ballot box.
She argues that churches gain the greatest political advantage when they appear to be above politics.
Because institutional access is covert, they retain their moral authority and their reputation as defenders of the national interest and the common good. Nations under God shows how powerful church officials in Ireland, Canada, and Poland have directly written legislation, vetoed policies, and vetted high-ranking officials. It demonstrates that religiosity itself is not enough for churches to influence politics—churches in Italy and Croatia, for example, are not as influential as we might think—and that churches allied to political parties, such as in the United States, have less influence than their notoriety suggests.
Many of our ebooks are available through library electronic resources including these platforms:. In , a National Flag Conference, presided over by the American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution, ordained that "my flag" should be changed to "the flag of the United States," lest immigrant children be unclear just which flag they were saluting. The following year, the Flag Conference refined the phrase further, adding "of America. In , the pledge's 50th anniversary, Congress adopted it as part of a national flag code.
By then, the salute had already acquired a powerful institutional role, with some state legislatures obligating public school students to recite it each school day. But individuals and groups challenged the laws.
The Pledge of Allegiance of the United States is an expression of allegiance to the flag of the .. The phrase "under God" was incorporated into the Pledge of Allegiance on June 14, , by a Joint Resolution of Congress amending § 4 of the. I first struggled with "under God" in my fourth-grade class in Westport, Connecticut. It was the spring of , and Congress had voted, after some controversy.
Notably, Jehovah's Witnesses maintained that reciting the pledge violated their prohibition against venerating a graven image. In , the Supreme Court ruled in the Witnesses' favor, undergirding the free-speech principle that no schoolchild should be compelled to recite the pledge. A decade later, following a lobbying campaign by the Knights of Columbus—a Catholic fraternal organization—and others, Congress approved the addition of the words "under God" within the phrase "one nation indivisible.
The bill's sponsors, anticipating that the reference to God would be challenged as a breach of the Constitutionally mandated separation of church and state, had argued that the new language wasn't really religious. The case originated when Michael Newdow, an atheist, claimed that his daughter a minor whose name has not been released was harmed by reciting the pledge at her public school in Elk Grove, California. If she refused to join in because of the "under God" phrase, the suit argued, she was liable to be branded an outsider and thereby harmed.
The appellate court agreed. Complicating the picture, the girl's mother, who has custody of the child, has said she does not oppose her daughter's reciting the pledge; the youngster does so every school day along with her classmates, according to the superintendent of the school district where the child is enrolled.
Proponents of the idea that the pledge's mention of God reflects historical tradition and not religious doctrine include Supreme Court justices past and present.
Atheists are not the only ones to take issue with that line of thought. Advocates of religious tolerance point out that the reference to a single deity might not sit well with followers of some established religions. After all, Buddhists don't conceive of God as a single discrete entity, Zoroastrians believe in two deities and Hindus believe in many. Both the Ninth Circuit ruling and a number of Supreme Court decisions acknowledge this.
But Jacobsohn predicts that a majority of the justices will hold that government may support religion in general as long as public policy does not pursue an obviously sectarian, specific religious purpose. Bellamy, who went on to become an advertising executive, wrote extensively about the pledge in later years.
I haven't found any evidence in the historical record—including Bellamy's papers at the University of Rochester—to indicate whether he ever considered adding a divine reference to the pledge.
So we can't know where he would stand in today's dispute. But it's ironic that the debate centers on a reference to God that an ordained minister left out.
And we can be sure that Bellamy, if he was like most writers, would have balked at anyone tinkering with his prose. Subscribe or Give a Gift. Sign up. SmartNews History. History Archaeology.
Now with Bill Moyers. On August 21, , the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus at its annual meeting adopted a resolution urging that the change be made universal, and copies of this resolution were sent to the President, the Vice President as Presiding Officer of the Senate , and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Removal of the Bellamy salute occurred on December 22, , when Congress amended the Flag Code language first passed into law on June 22, One objection is that a democratic republic built on freedom of dissent should not require its citizens to pledge allegiance to it, and that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the right to refrain from speaking or standing, which itself is also a form of speech in the context of the ritual of pledging allegiance. Kruse acknowledges the insertion of the phrase was influenced by the push-back against Russian atheistic communism during the Cold War, but argues the longer arc of history shows the conflation of Christianity and capitalism as a challenge to the New Deal played the larger role.
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