Some Fools, a Pledge, and History Forgotten
Sat Feb 3, 2007 00:03

 
Some Fools, a Pledge, and History Forgotten by Andrew Horning

The Rev. "Doctor of the Universe" Michael A. Newdow, Esq. -- lawyer, reluctant father, atheist and founder of the "First Amendmist Church of True Science," has stood before the Supreme Court to demand the removal of "under God" from our Pledge of Allegiance.

That Newdow's from California explains his part. But his case is about religion and speech, and the US Constitution clearly and specifically forbids any federal involvement in matters of religion and speech. So, by hearing Newdow's argument, the Supreme Court has claimed forbidden jurisdiction. There's nothing new in that, of course, and there's nothing to new to Newdow, either. He made the same case before 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2002, and Congress passed S. 2690 in a misguided attempt to overturn the silly result.

None of this would ever have happened if we knew our own history, our own
laws, and our own beliefs. Of course, there's more to this case than just a
fool, some wayward judges and lawmakers that haven't read the law.

There's a long and contentious history to oaths. Christ told us not to swear them, of course (James 5:12: "But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath, but let your 'Yes' mean 'Yes' and your 'No' mean 'No,' that you may not incur condemnation."). But we've always been compelled to make solemn promises;
often in times of great duress. English noblemen swore oaths of allegiance
when battles and change of monarchs prompted doubts. American officers
swore an oath of allegiance at Valley Forge in 1778.

Officers and leaders typically swear oaths. Our president swore to "...preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."

There is no finer oath. I confess I've sworn this one already, in my way.

We also have a fine oath, written in 1790, sworn only by immigrants wanting
to become citizens. "I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen." It's a strong oath that serves a good purpose.

But with only two exceptions I'm aware of, none of these were intended as
daily oaths of obedience for the masses. Only The Philippines and the USA
have a national oath of Allegiance. And once you think critically about our
Pledge, it's very strange that among all the people of the earth, the once-feisty and iconoclastic Americans would swear any sort of nationalistic oath, let alone an oath of obedience to our flag! And how is it that since 1892, so many public school children have memorized and sworn this oath without ever reading our US Constitution, its Bill of Rights, or the Declaration of Independence that are theoretically symbolized by that flag?

Well, that's a history worth knowing.

Francis Bellamy (1855 - 1931) was a Baptist minister whose congregation
pressured him out of the pulpit because his sermons were mostly socialist
activism. Bellamy didn't even attend church in his later years because he
found much of the church's message contrary to his socialism. This wasn't
surprising to people who knew the Bellamys, because Francis' better-known
first cousin was Edward Bellamy, who wrote the popular socialist utopian
novels, Looking Backward (1888) and Equality (1897).

Another socialist, Daniel Ford, was a member of Bellamy's congregation, and
had, not surprisingly, enjoyed the rev. Bellamy's sermons. Ford was also
the publisher of the nation's leading family magazine called The Youth's
Companion. So Ford hired Bellamy to the magazine in 1891.

Socialists were numerous and popular back then. Hoosiers can perhaps take
pride that this socialism was born in New Harmony in the 1820s, and notably
advanced by Hoosier Eugene Debs. Socialism was seen as fresh, noble and
ideal, as this was, after all, well before Hitler, Stalin and Mao gave it another image.

At any rate, the socialists proposed that a new, more benevolent government
should arise and grow to meet our physical and economic needs while
promoting equality and justice for all. Certainly, the rugged, self-reliant
American citizens of that time would have to sacrifice some of their
independence and liberty; but along with the loss of minor freedoms (and
lives) proposed by the socialists would come a greater whole -the glorious
socialist state.

To achieve their goals the socialists knew they'd have to invent and publicize pledges, customs, practices and beliefs that would diminish individualism, and promote nationalistic pride.

So in the September 8, 1892 issue of The Youth's Companion, the first version of the Pledge of Allegiance appeared. This slightly modified version came in the next month:

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

Remember that 1892 wasn't so long after the end of our Civil War in 1865;
there was still strong feeling in the South that this nation shouldn't be indivisible. But the Socialists claimed that the Constitution was an outdated document, and that the so-called State's Rights should be annulled.

Now it so happens that Francis Bellamy was also the chairman of a state
superintendents committee in the National Education Association (which later
became the national teachers' union). So for quadricentennial Columbus Day
of 1892, Bellamy and another socialist by the name of James Upham (who
probably co-wrote the pledge), developed a public school program that
comprised the pledge, along with a formal procedure for its performance.

It also, of course, featured the USA flag. Now it might seem perfectly
obvious that there'd be a flag in the school somewhere, but prior to 1892,
this wasn't the case at all. Flags were not considered important back in
those days, and most schools didn't have one. It was Upham who changed
that. He and the magazine had begun a campaign to sell USA flags to public
schools back in 1888.

Anyway, that first school flag program went like this:

After a procession with a flag bearer marched into position, the children
were to turn (in unison, after a signal from a school leader) to face the
flag at a sort of attention, and place their right hands over their hearts.

After another signal from the leader, they were to start reciting the
pledge. Immediately before the phrase "...to my Flag," the children were to
(in unison, of course) move their right hands to a straight-armed salute
position, with flat-open hands pointing toward the flag.

Starting in 1923, the National Flag Conference, (see the pages on the USA
Flag) changed the words, "my flag," to "the flag of the United States of
America" despite Bellamy's protests.

What would have angered Bellamy even more, however, was that in 1954, the US Congress added the words, "under God" so that the pledge became what it is
today:

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.

Not surprisingly, it is the modern socialists (the so-called "left") who are leading a movement to remove the words "under God." Interestingly, some of them proposed this version of the pledge:

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

Bellamy wanted to use the word "equality" in the original pledge, but didn't
because of the near-universal bigotry of that time. Ironically, however, it
is the modern socialists who've started the push away from the pledge
altogether. Even more ironically, it is the so-called "right" who now
defend what began as a ceremony to glorify the socialist state.

But now, several countries (England and Canada, for example, who don't yet
have flags in their classrooms) are considering nationalist oaths. Is this
wise?

No, that's not really the question. I don't care about other countries.

...Is the Pledge who we are? Do we mean what we're promising?
...That's what I want to know.

======================
Frederick Bastiat's (1801 - 1850)
"The Law" http://www.apfn.org/audio/thelaw.mp3
read by G Edward Griffin

Without Justice, there is JUST_US!
"The Law"!
http://www.apfn.org/apfn/thelaw.htm

Word Study from Bouvier's 1856 Law Dictionary
"Truth / True"
http://www.land.netonecom.net/tlp/ref/bouvier/truth-.shtml

Word Study from Bouvier's 1856 Law Dictionary
"Oath"
http://www.land.netonecom.net/tlp/ref/bouvier/oath-.shtml

Word Study from Bouvier's 1856 Law Dictionary
"(un)Lawful(ly)"
http://www.land.netonecom.net/tlp/ref/bouvier/lawful-.shtml

Word Study from Bouvier's 1856 Law Dictionary
"God"
http://www.land.netonecom.net/tlp/ref/bouvier/god-.shtml

Word Study from Bouvier's 1856 Law Dictionary
"Authority"
http://www.land.netonecom.net/tlp/ref/bouvier/author-.shtml

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