Defacing the Pledge of Allegiance (again?)

By David Waters Vandals inserted the words “Under God” into the original phrase from the Pledge of Allegiance — “One … Continued

By David Waters

Vandals inserted the words “Under God” into the original phrase from the Pledge of Allegiance — “One Nation Indivisible” — displayed on a billboard in North Carolina.

Wait. Didn’t Congress already do that in 1954?

Okay, there was a difference. Back in 1954, Congress legally inserted the words “Under God” into the original Pledge written in 1892 by a Baptist minister. This time, vandals with spray paint defaced private property — inserting the two words on a billboard placed along a highway named for famous Baptist evangelist Billy Graham.

On the other hand, many civil libertarians argue that what Congress did in 1954 defaced the secular spirit of the Pledge as well as the U.S. Constitution’s attempt to keep government out of the religion business.

And you have to admit that what the vandals did in North Carolina was clever and relatively respectful, considering that the billboard was placed along Billy Graham Parkway by a coalition of atheists and agnostics.

William Warren of Charlotte Atheists & Agnostics said the coalition plans to restore the billboard to its original intent. “We’re doing this to raise the consciousness of the people of North Carolina,” Warren told the Associated Press. “We want to let them know that not everybody here is religious. There are atheists in North Carolina, and we expect to be recognized and treated like everybody else.”

Meanwhile, the original intent of what Congress did in 1954 remains in dispute.

In 1954, President Eisenhower said that adding “Under God” to the Pledge was a symbol of “the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty.” But last March, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that “we find the pledge is one of allegiance to our Republic, not of allegiance to God or to any religion.”

If the Pledge conveys the same meaning with or without the words “Under God,” why bother adding or erasing them?

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  • Sajanas

    With all do respects to Eisenhower, his notion is BS. The pledge was modified by McCarthy to put Christian values at the core of the US, which was never the intention of the founding fathers. Every Atheist kid growing up has to say it or look weird in front of their class. The fact that some people are so upset by an atheist billboard that they have to climb up on it and spray paint it shows there is a long way to go before there is truly equality between religions and between those who do and don’t believe. Especially when you consider that the same highway has dozens and dozens of smug, “God is watching you, and ready to hurt you if you do bad” ads plasters along the same highway.

  • PSolus

    “Every Atheist kid growing up has to say it or look weird in front of their class.”When I was a kid, I would recite the Crest toothpaste quote, in the same cadence as the PoA:Crest has been shown to be an effective decay-preventing dentifrice that can be of significant value when used in a conscientiously applied program of oral hygiene and regular professional care.

  • CalicoJ

    “You have to admit what the vandals did in North Carolina was clever and relatively respectful…” On what planet was that either clever or at all respectful?!? Speaking as an openly atheistic guy, with bumper stickers and lapel pins and everything, I have long since found that there is a small group of fanatic Christians who are just immediately infuriated by the very existence of atheists. Without me even saying a word, they come up to me and throw pamplets in my car windows and tell me at length how I’m a horrible evil person going to Hell. Now it looks like that same sort of loser can climb pretty well, too, so I guess you just can’t get away from them. At any rate, they certainly aren’t people to take seriously or pay attention to.

  • PSolus

    “Without me even saying a word, they come up to me and throw pamplets in my car windows and tell me at length how I’m a horrible evil person going to Hell.”Where, exactly, does this sort of thing happen?I have never seen or experienced anything even remotely close to what you describe.

  • joe3eagles

    “Where, exactly, does this sort of thing happen?”I have also had my car vandalized and Atheism-themed bumper stickers defaced. I have had to resort to using removable magnetic stickers which I take with me when I park. Though I have never had pamphlets flung in my window by these kooks, I wouldn’t put it past them if they can overcome their cowardice and confront me instead of my car.

  • Josey2006

    Unbelievable comment by this idiot blogger, David Waters:”And you have to admit that what the vandals did in North Carolina was clever and relatively respectful, considering that the billboard was placed along Billy Graham Parkway by a coalition of atheists and agnostics.”Since when is vandalizing a $15,000 for ANY reason “respectful”?Dear Washington Post: Please remove this vandalism advocating blogger from your web site.

  • bflorhodes

    IF there were a “big guy” he most certainly be a Republican. There’s no such thing as a Christian Republican. Unless murder, torture, environmental degradation, stealing from the Treasury to give to the rich are Christian values. Anyone claiming to be a Christian Republican is either stupid as hell or going there.

  • louthetoe

    Let them put their sign up!!! They have nothing better to do on sundays, or any other day, We know we have the big guy backing us up so let them be a bunch of Democrats!!

  • lepidopteryx

    How exactly is deliberate destruction of another person’s property “relatively respectful?” Perhaps they need a new bracelst – “What Would Jesus Spray Paint?”

  • Sajanas

    Other Atheist billboards include quotes from out founding fathers, expressing the notion that separation of church and state was both necessary and critical for the US. Even John Adams, a very devote Christian was quite clear on this.

  • jckdoors

    Good little Christian thugs.

  • areyousaying

    The bigger offense in that part of Huckabee Jesuslandia are the words “with liberty and justice for all.”

  • CalicoJ

    @ psolusOn another subject, it constantly amazes me how many people think just saying “I’m a Christian” makes it true. I could chant “I’m a Flying Spaghetti Monster” a hundred times a day and my butt’s not gonna go airborn. You have to walk the walk, not just shoot your mouth off, something which many–or most–hardcore Christians seem to have forgotten. If I see one more person picking and choosing which biblical passages they feel like living by, I may scream.

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    Defacing property is not a particularly civil thing to do, but less harmful than breaking bones, is it not?Pardon the digression, but I am prompted to post here by my dismay that learning of yet another a gay black man, who has been the victim of anti-gay violence.This young fellow, a former student of mine suffered several bone fractures and will need weeks to recover. Two of the thugs who brutalized him involved have been arrested. The police are still looking for the third.I have asked several times, as have others, why the opposition to gay rights in African American churches is not addressed.Some large well-to-do African American Churches, anti gay rights, actually post outside their buildings hateful “pictures” of the “real men don’t” type, depicting what the artists’ apparently think of as gay white men. And these churches do worse.Having seen the effects of this Church sponsored hatred, which include almost unspeakable violence against gay black men and women, I cannot fathom why OnFaith refuses to take up the issue.It is all the more alarming that OnFaith does take up the issue of white church discrimination against gays, suggesting that gay black people either do not exist or do not count.Word to OnFaith: GAy black people exist, ARE human beings with the same rights as gay whites, straight people, and everyone else.When does OnFaith plan to address this matter, David Waters?

  • justme121

    Here is what I feel is wrong with the pledge. It starts out by saying, “I pledge allegiance to the flag”. A person’s allegiance should be with God and not the flag. The flag in a sense symbolizes the world. 1 John 2:15-16 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the worldرthe cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and doesرcomes not from the Father but from the world.

  • CalicoJ

    Well, that’s a fine and reasonable sentiment if you and everyone else in the country were the same religion. For those of us of the Atheist persuasion, where does that leave us? The Pledge of Allegiance must be secular or it automatically excludes entire segments of the population. When I “came out of the closet” as an Atheist, I stopped reciting or standing up for the Pledge of Allegiance entirely because of the phrase “under God”, and don’t think that hasn’t caused problems for me. Much though I love my country, my country doesn’t have the right to force me to talk to imaginary people to prove my loyalty–which is why I love it.

  • malis

    I prefer the original Pledge of Allegiance wording: “…one nation, indivisible…” which, unlike “one nation, under God,” indisputably covers us all. What exactly is wrong with “…One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all!” Why do so many continue to try to divide my “One nation, indivisible” with their innumerable divisive gods?When reciting the pledge my personal protest is to, firmly and with a little extra emphasis, say “indivisible” instead “under god.” (you end up saying ‘indivisible’ twice). It’s especially instructive when several people do that at the same time (as is becoming more common)…provoking a little extra thought from folks who’d never really thought about it before.“Under God” in the Pledge, like the “National Day of Prayer” law and “In God We Trust” on coinage certainly do not reflect the positions of the founders of our country. They were all adopted relatively recently—within my lifetime—and the motivation wasn’t religious. No, they were political acts passed during McCarthyism, to let members of Congress bellow ‘We’re not like those Godless Communists!’ Our nation had somehow managed to survive more that a century and a half with only the motto I far prefer—“Out of Many, One” (more commonly, “E Pluribus Unum”)—but self-important congressmen decided religion somehow could not get along without their support. I am generally an optimist (less by nature than by policy) and I think there’s evidence that over the centuries, over millennia, human society slowly but demonstrably evolves, matures, improves, and ultimately, progresses. Such progress is not smooth; it happens in fits and starts with considerable backsliding (during the Dark Ages, such backsliding lasted centuries). A gradual disentanglement of religion from government over the last 200+ years is evidence of that long slow societal progress.

  • jontomus

    I pledge allegiance, to the flag … ummm, ummm, without the expressed written consent of major league baseball.

  • samsara15

    All this fuss merely points out that the word in the Pledge of Allegiance ‘indivisble’ is just a myth, since we are clearly already a divided nation, without liberty and justice for all, or this conflict would not exist. A more hopeful and accurate statement in the Pledge might be ‘aspiring to provide liberty and justice for all, even though divided’.

  • Garak

    The original Pledge of Allegiance, written by Baptist Minister Francis Bellamy:”I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”Short, snappy, and to the point. And no mention of any god.

  • wp18

    IT SEEMS THE AMERICAN TALIBAN HAVE THEIR OWN MORALITY POLICE.

  • dkp01

    “And you have to admit that what the vandals did in North Carolina was clever and relatively respectful, considering that the billboard was placed along Billy Graham Parkway by a coalition of atheists and agnostics.”I don’t have to admit that at all. The “considering that the billboard blah blah” part implies that it was disrespectful for citizens and/or legal residents to take out a perfectly legal ad in a public space. What the vandals did was vandalize, which is disrespectful. If a bunch of religious people had taken out an ad along Agnost McAtheism Highway that read, “God is great,” and some atheists had defaced it, that would also be disrespectful. And the last question is based on a flawed premise. “If the Pledge conveys the same meaning”–it does not convey the same meaning.