The United States ofAmerica's
Pledge of Allegiance

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands; one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for ALL.

This is how I learned to give the flag salute as a child, and it was not changed until my last year in high school:

Background material


Between 1924 and 1954, the Pledge of Allegiance was worded:

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands; one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

In 1954 Congress passed a bill, which was signed into law, to add the words "under God." The current Pledge reads:

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands; one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

The Pledge is recited, on average, tens of millions of times a day -- largely by students in schools across America, but also at sports events, before Senior Citizens (at the Center) sit for lunch, etc.

On 2002-JUN-26, a three judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2 to 1 to declare the Pledge unconstitutional because of the addition of the phrase "under God." This decision only affects the states of AK, AZ, CA, HI, ID, MT, NV, OR and WA. However, the ruling will only take effect if it is upheld on appeal. The decision may be appealed to the entire 9th U.S. Circuit Court, or to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It is interesting to note that this decision happened to occur one day after the 40th anniversary of the Engel v. Vitale decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which declared unconstitutional the inclusion of state-sponsored school prayer as a part of instruction in public schools. The Texas Justice Foundation had declared that anniversary a day of mourning.  1,2

History of the Pledge of Allegiance:

The Pledge was originally written in 1892-AUG by Francis Bellamy (1855 - 1931). He was an American, a Baptist minister, and an active Socialist. He included some of the concepts of his first cousin, Edward Bellamy, who wrote a number of socialist utopian novels, such as Looking Backward (1888) and Equality (1897). In its original form, it read:

"I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

It was first published in a children's magazine Youth's Companion, in 1892 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus' arrival in the Americas. 4 The word "to" was added before "the Republic" in 1892-OCT.

By 1924, the "National Flag Conference, under the leadership of the American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution, changed the Pledge's words, 'my Flag,' to 'the Flag of the United States of America.' Francis Bellamy disliked this change, but his protest was ignored."3

Most Jehovah's Witness children refuse to acknowledge the flag. In 1940, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that school boards could compel them to recite the Pledge. The court reversed itself three years later. 4

In 1953, the Roman Catholic men's group, the Knights of Columbus mounted a campaign to add the words "under God" to the Pledge. The nation was suffering through the height of the cold war, and the McCarthy communist witch hunt. Partly in reaction to these factors, a reported 15 resolutions were initiated in Congress to change the pledge. They got nowhere until Rev. George Docherty (1911 - ) preached a sermon that was attended by President Eisenhower and the national press corps on 1954-FEB-7. His sermon said in part: "Apart from the mention of the phrase 'the United States of America,' it could be the pledge of any republic. In fact, I could hear little Muscovites repeat a similar pledge to their hammer-and-sickle flag in Moscow." After the service, President Eisenhower said that he agreed with the sermon. In the following weeks, the news spread, and public opinion grew. Three days later, Senator Homer Ferguson, (R-MI), sponsored a bill to add God to the Pledge. It was approved as a joint resolution 1954-JUN-8. It was signed into law on Flag Day, JUN-14. President Eisenhower said at the time: "From this day forward, the millions of our schoolchildren will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural schoolhouse, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty." 4 With the addition of "under God" to the Pledge, it became both "a patriotic oath and a public prayer...Bellamy's granddaughter said he also would have resented this second change." 3

The change was partly motivated by a desire to differentiate between communism, which promotes Atheism, and Western capitalistic democracies, which were at least nominally Christian. The phrase "Atheistic Communists" has been repeated so many times that the public has linked Atheism with communism; the two are often considered synonymous. Many consider Atheism as unpatriotic and "un-American" as is communism. 

Most communists, worldwide, are Atheists. But, in North America, the reverse is not true; most Atheists are non-communists. Although there are many Atheistic and Humanistic legislators at the federal and state levels, few if any are willing to reveal their beliefs, because of the intense prejudice against these belief systems. 

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review this change to the Pledge. The Court has commented in passing on the motto saying that: "[o]ur previous opinions have considered in dicta the motto and the pledge [of allegiance], characterizing them as consistent with the proposition that government may not communicate an endorsement of religious belief." [Allegheny, 492 U.S.]


  1. Fred Jackson and Jody Brown, "In Remembrance of School Prayer: ACLU Attributes Notion of Effective Prayer to 'Radical Religious Right',", 2002-JUN-25.
  2. The Texas Justice Foundation is a conservative group which "provides free legal representation in landmark cases in protect individual rights, limit government to its appropriate role, and promote a better business climate for job growth in Texas."
  3. John W. Baer, "The Pledge of Allegiance: A short history," at:
  4. Larry Witham, "If it says 'God,' so be it," Washington Times, 2002-JUN-28.
  5. "Survey: Majority of Americans OK With Ten Commandments, Pledge in Public," Religion News Service, 2003-AUG-5, at:

"She's a Grand Old Flag"