“Flood Facebook with this!!! 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. REPOST IF YOU THINK GOD, OUR COUNTRY, AND OUR FLAG DESERVE RESPECT!! Let’s see how many Americans will repost.”
There is nothing that bothers me more than to read the above post as it makes the rounds on Facebook. Not because I am anti-American or unpatriotic. On the contrary, it is because I am a born and bred American who believes in the tenets of our Constitution and the principles our country was founded upon. But there seems to be an underlying assumption the only patriotic people in our country are the one’s who believe in God and who blindly recite the more modern, revised version of the Pledge of Allegiance. It appears these individuals refuse to understand our country, as well as the troops who defend it, are made up of not only those who are Christian but of Muslim, Sikh, Jew, Buddhist, and yes, even Atheist, Deist, Humanist, Agnostic and a multitude of other beliefs and non-beliefs alike. You do not have to be a Christian to be a flag waving American nor to join the ranks of our military. There is absolutely nothing in our Constitution nor even in our traditions that say it has to be so. We have never been immersed in a Holy War, yet there are many fundamentalists in our country today who want us to believe we are.
Those same individuals would argue our Founding Fathers created our nation based solely on Christian principles and we must “return to God” again as our forefathers originally intended for us to do. This is where a quick history lesson is needed. The majority of our Founding Fathers were Deist, that means they did not believe the Bible was true. In fact they were a mixture of Deist, Unitarian, Pluralist, Protestant and Catholic. They understood the importance of protecting an individuals right to worship (or not) through freedom of choice.
The Pledge of Allegiance was composed in its original form by Francis Bellamy in 1892. The original Pledge did not include the words “Under God”. Repeat: there was no reference to God whatsoever in the original Pledge. In fact, it did not include the word “God” until the year 1954, four years before I was born. The original intent of the Pledge was to show one’s loyalty to the national flag and to the republic of the United States of America. Period. The same America that was filled full with immigrants who traveled from other countries with a variety of languages, customs and belief systems under their belts to join this melting pot of opportunity. Please do your genealogy. Unless we are directly descended from the bloodline of one of the many Native American tribes who roamed this continent prior to our own conception, then every last one of us are immigrants by proxy. The majority of us in fact, are descended from individuals who were not well versed in the English language and were not all of the Christian religion yet were still allowed to enter our country and prosper regardless of this reality.
If one truly stands behind the words of our Pledge of Allegiance, then the term “liberty and justice for all” should cause one to take pause. If you stop and think about it for a second, that statement means everybody. Not just Christians, not just white Anglo-Saxon Americans, not just those who have a strong command of the English language, and not just heterosexuals. That statement was meant to be all-inclusive for Christians, Buddhists, Atheists, Muslim, African-American, Asian, Hispanic, Pacific Islanders, etc. and oh my, even for homosexuals. The full rainbow of cultures, choices, individuals and belief systems who freely make up this wonderfully diverse country of ours.
On this I would agree: it is time for us to get back to the basics of our Founding Fathers. But the basics based on historical reality; not on fundamental fantasy. We are a great nation filled with diverse backgrounds, cultures and belief systems. It is past time for us to bridge the divide and to live and let live as our Founding Fathers so rightly intended for us to do. So, wave the flag and pray to the God of your choice all you want with the freedom that was given to you, however, please don’t assume for one moment those individuals who do not pray to your God or speak your language with ease are any less patriotic than you.