President’s Column: One Nation Indivisible
By Eric Jayne
Twenty-seven years after the last shot was fired in the Civil War, a socialist, Baptist minister named Francis Bellamy wrote the Pledge of Allegiance as a visionary celebration of a unified, undivided nation. Published in 1892, the Pledge first appeared in a popular children’s magazine entitled The Youth’s Companion. The publication’s purpose was to teach ethics and promote positive, active citizenship to children. As most atheists and other secularists are well aware, Bellamy made no mention of gods. His original words were: I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic, for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
It wasn’t until 1954—sixty-two years after Bellamy penned the Pledge—that Communist-fearing lawmakers literally divided Bellamy’s clause, “one nation indivisible” by wedging in “under God” at the behest of the Catholic Knights of Columbus organization. The idea was to showcase the United States as a pious nation in opposition to the godless Soviet Union.
Not that the Cold War was a legitimate reason to inject God into the Pledge in the first place, but the Soviet Union dissolved over 20 years ago which should render the intended purpose of “under God” null and void. Anyway, it’s painfully obvious that our nation is long overdue to correct the misguided religious intrusion to our patriotic vow.
The position of Minnesota Atheists is very clear on this issue. We believe that the government violated—and continues to violate—the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause (Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion) when it switched our nation’s oath from a secular and inclusive act of citizenship to a reverent prayer toward God. To be sure, the government added “under God” with a capital “G”, which specifically refers to the Judeo-Christian god. This means that children throughout Minnesota public schools are in fact being led by their teachers to proclaim that their country is subservient to Yahweh regardless of their family’s religious background.
Minnesota Atheists understands that our government is of the people, by the people, and for the people, but we left feeling excluded when our government endorses a particular god belief of some of the people. As with Vishnu, Odin, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the Judeo-Christian god has no place in the people’s national oath, judicial system, monetary system, military, and lawmaking.
It is this demand for inclusivity and respect that our Day of Reason event will underscore. We want to remind our elected representatives, along with the rest of the citizenry, that if we are to be a single indivisible nation, our shared government must show no favoritism to a group based on race, ethnicity, sex, sexual preference, gender identity, or theological persuasion.
This year’s Minnesota Atheists red, white, and blue shirt design boldly heralds One Nation Indivisible so they will echo the message we are promoting at the Day of Reason. The shirts are available for $6.66 at our various events throughout the year and our online store so you can wear the new shirts at the Day of Reason!
The Day of Reason will again coincide with the Day of Prayer (the first Thursday of every May) so just like the last several years, the prostrating will take place outside the capital building and the reasoning will take place inside the capital’s rotunda from 12pm to 1pm.
Let’s remind our elected officials, friends, and family that we will never be one nation indivisible until our government becomes fully secular. Restoring the Pledge of Allegiance to its original secular and inclusive meaning is a step in the right direction.