I have been studying the history of the pledge of allegiance the past few days.
The original pledge was written in 1892 in honor of the 400 years since Columbus sailed the ocean blue. It was written by Francis Bellamy, a former pastor who was forced out of his church in 1891 due to his socialist sermons. His cousin was Edward Bellamy, author of American socialist Utopian novels, Looking Backward (1888) and Equality (1897). School children began to recite the pledge daily.
The words of the pledge were:
“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands- one nation indivisible-with liberty and justice for all.”
In 1923 the words “the Flag of the United States” replaced “my flag”. In 1942 Congress officially recognized the pledge. Then in 1943 the Supreme court ruled that children could not be forced to recite it. That’s because children who protested or refused to recite the Pledge were suspended from school, whipped by teachers, arrested, and in some cases imprisoned.
In 1954 the words “under God” were added.
Originally, the pledge was said with the right hand in the so-called “Bellamy Salute,” with the right hand resting first outward from the chest, then the arm extending out from the body. Once Hitler came to power in Europe, some Americans were concerned that this position of the arm and hand resembled the Nazi or Fascist salute. In 1942 Congress also established the current practice of rendering the pledge with the right hand over the heart.
My children have been involved in awana for several years. At the beginning of the meetings, they are to pledge to the American flag and to the awana flag. I have been wondering a few things. I am patriotic. I love America and the flag reminds me of the men and women who have been wounded and died in service. Yet I am left wondering what the point is to repeat it over and over in schools, clubs, awana, etc. Is it to make it so ‘normal’ to say it that you don’t question it?
I feel that making a “pledge” is a very serious thing. I made a pledge to my husband in marriage almost 19 years ago. It was important for me to understand exactly what I was pledging. And I only said it once. I worry about the concept of children pledging by rote and not even realizing what they’re doing or saying.
Also, I’m really not sure about the pledge to the awana flag. I enjoy any program that stresses and encourages Bible memorization, and I have worked in the awana program for years. But honestly, I don’t *pledge allegiance* to the awana program at all. So, isn’t pledging without knowing what you’re saying, or really meaning what you’re saying basically a lie?
And how exactly would James 5:12 fit into all this? “But before all things, my brothers, do not swear; neither by the heaven nor by the earth, nor any other oath. But let your yes be yes, and no, no, lest you fall into condemnation.”
This is what I’m praying about…