“Place your right hand over your heart and repeat the Pledge of Allegiance.” Every morning in government and private school classrooms across America, students are led in the following mantra:
“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.”
Very few of us know the history of the Pledge, its author and the original purposes behind the Pledge. Let’s explore some of these issues together.
The Author of the Pledge
The author of the Pledge, Francis Bellamy (1855-1931), was a Baptist minister, a Freemason and a socialist activist. (Socialism is usually defined as “government ownership and control of the means –including land, labor and capital – of production”.) If this appears incongruent, apparently Francis’ congregation thought so as well, for they put him out of his Boston, MA parish in 1891 because of his socialistic sermons.
Despite Francis’ early ties with the northern Baptists, his theological views were far from Biblical. He refused to believe in the virgin birth, the resurrection or the ascension of Christ, and somehow erroneously insisted that Jesus Christ was a socialist, like himself. In 1889, Francis co-founded, under the influence of his first cousin, Edward Bellamy, the Society of Christian Socialists.
Edward Bellamy (whose father was also a Baptist minister) is attributed with influencing the worldview behind Francis’ political views. Edward wrote novels including, Looking Backward 2000-1887 (1888), a critique of American capitalism and its sequel Equality (1897). Edward depicted the year 2000 as being the date that competitive capitalism would have been stamped out in favor of what he called a “cooperative commonwealth.” The theories in the book inspired many “Bellamy Clubs,” which led to the formation of a Nationalist Party, that advocated the federalization of public services. In 1891, Edward founded the “New Nation” in Boston, an organization that for some time promoted his leftist views. Edward had other interests, such as psychic phenomena, which he explored in some of his writings, but for the most part, he limited his novels to socialist concerns.
American educator, John Dewey, “(P)roclaimed Bellamy’s Looking Backward second only to Marx’s Das Kapital as the most influential book of modern times.”1 According to former New York State “Teacher of the Year,” John Taylor Gatto: “(T)he society Bellamy describes is a totally organized society, all means of production are in the hands of State parent-surrogates…Society in Bellamy’s ideal future has eliminated the reality of democracy, citizens are answerable to commands of industrial officers, little room remains for self-initiative. The State regulates all public activities, owns the means of production, individuals are transformed into a unit directed by bureaucrats.” 2
One biographer says of Edward, “(I)t should be pointed out that though Bellamy is usually spoken of as a “Utopian Socialist,” he was nothing of the kind. His system was a pure state capitalism, a complete nationalization of all industry which actually has much in common with the totalitarian state, now spoken of as Facism.”3
The History of the Pledge
Inspired by such lofty fascist notions, it seems that Francis was determined to influence the young (as did John Dewey and other socialists of the day), to cause them to have complete unquestioned allegiance to the civil government as the protector and provider of the people.
After leaving his position as paid pastor, he sought employment and mentoring through a staff position offered by Daniel Ford, the owner of the popular magazine, The Youth’s Companion. Ford later funded the liberal and controversial “Ford Hall Forum” in downtown Boston, MA, which attracted 1,400 in only its fifth meeting in 1908 (they turned away 500 more) to hear a lecture entitled, “Socialism As I See It.” By 1928 the Baptists in Boston had decried the forum as “anti-Christian” and “anti-American.”
The idea for the Pledge was given as an assignment to Francis Bellamy and Ford’s nephew, James B. Upham. The first version of the Pledge was published in the Sept. 8th, 1892 issue of The Youth’s Companion (TYC) magazine, commemorating the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ discovery of America.
Why The Need For A Pledge?
There seems to be several major motivations for introducing to youth a national oath or vow of allegiance.
First, were Francis’ personal radical views of the government as the cure for all social ills, and the need for unreserved trust and dependence on the State.
Second, according to Dr. John W. Baer, the Pledge of Allegiance could be considered by the advertising industry to be “the greatest piece of copy-writing seen in the United States in the last hundred years.” Francis Bellamy spent the latter years of his life as an advertising salesman for various magazines and considered writing ad copy to be his specialty. There was a definite financial motive behind the selling of the Pledge; it was the selling of American flags. Despite all of the rhetoric about socialism, a free press like The Youth’s Companion (which has the constitutional right to promote socialism if it desires), has to raise funds in a very capitalistic manner.
When the assignment to write a flag pledge was given to Bellamy and Upham, the former was given the task of writing the piece and promoting it to schools, while the latter was instructed to use the Pledge as a publicity stunt to sell American flags, the newspaper’s latest fund-raising endeavor. By 1892 the publication had already sold flags to approximately 26,000 schools, but Ford was convinced that they had not yet exhausted the market. Ford commissioned his staff to sell a flag to every school in America. The task was to encourage the NEA to tack on an official “pledge to the flag” for the celebration of the then upcoming National Public School Celebration for Columbus Day, thereby ensuring nearly universal participation in flag ceremonies (and thus, flag sales).
Third, Upham masterfully played upon the interest of school leaders in increasing patriotism in the schools. W.T. Harris, the commissioner of education, worked with the publication to secure TYC’s management of the World’s Youth Congress at the 1892 Columbia Exposition in Chicago, and convinced the school superintendents in attendance to adopt a series of resolutions recommending the project to all superintendents, teachers and newspapers. Francis was chosen as chairman of the NEA’s executive committee for the celebration. The NEA was intent on ensuring that the Columbus Day celebration was not merely a celebration of the discovery of America, but that the theme also included a recognition of the government schools as the glue which held the American experiment together.
Theodore Roosevelt, another Freemason and then member of the United States Civil Service Commission, said, “The Common School and flag stand together as the arch-typical of American civilization. The Common School is the leading form in which the principles of equality and fraternity take shape, while the Flag represents not only those principles of equality, fraternity and liberty (author’s note: this trilogy was the theme of the French Revolution), but also the great pulsing nation with all its hopes, and all its past, and all its moral power. So it is eminently fitting that the Common School and the Flag should stand together on Columbus Day.” (Baer)
Francis Bellamy in his address for Columbus Day stated, “We assemble here that we, too, may exalt the free school that embodies the American principle of universal enlightenment and equality…Washington and Jefferson recognized that the education of citizens is not the prerogative of the church or of other private interest; that while religious training belongs to the church, and while technical and higher culture may be given by private institutions – the training of citizens in the common knowledge and the common duties of citizenship belongs irrevocably to the State.” (Baer)
Very few private school administrators or homeschoolers are aware of how “eminently” linked the Pledge to the Flag is with the government school system.
An interesting effect of this “promotion of patriotism” was that most schools that used to have students memorize and recite sections of the U.S. Constitution, The Declaration of Independence or some other founding document from America’s inception, did away with teaching students what American law says, and focused only on oaths and vows. Now when nearly all students pledge allegiance to the Flag, they think the phrase “wall of separation of church and state” is a stated tenet in our Constitution on which the (Democracy) stands, with tolerance and diversity for all.
The Pledge has served as a much more emotional and subjective replacement for understanding the objective laws on which American was built. The Pledge fits into a “slogan” or “sound-bite” society that can only retain what the Pledge means “to me” when I say it, rather than what the original framers of our documents intended. No wonder many judges believe in “evolving documents” and “international law precedent,” rather than approaching the Constitution from an “originalist” or “strict constructionist” viewpoint. The federal judiciary (including the U.S. Supreme Court) has become an activist oligarchy (rule by an elite, imperious minority) that totally undermines the Rule of Law and the republic of representative government our founders established. With the swing of a gavel they have often overwritten the will of the people as expressed through her appointed officials, and have imposed their personal preferences on the masses. These are the same courts that want to remove morality from American life, remove life itself when it is not wanted or convenient, and remove any acknowledgement of God in the public sphere, all the while promising, “a republic for which it stands, with liberty and justice for all.”
Fourth, was the “need” to revive interest in a supposedly under-funded government school. (Of course one must wonder if the cry of “under-funding” has simply been going on since government school inception.) Some skeptics of mandatory government education (please keep in mind that Horace Mann’s compulsory attendance law had only been in effect for forty years in Massachusetts and much less in other places) claimed that State-run education was inherently socialistic in nature. In response to these views, President Harrison said, “The system of universal education is in our age the most prominent and salutary feature of the spirit of enlightenment, and it is peculiarly appropriate that the schools be made by the people the center of the day’s demonstration. Let the National Flag float over every school house in the country, and the exercises of such as shall impress upon our youth the patriotic duties of American citizenship.” (Baer)
Early on in American education, the notion was presented that while parents can teach some things (like potty training or brushing teeth), the government was the only agency capable of teaching people to be good citizens, and thus, “for the good of all society”, government schools were an indispensable part of the national economic duty.
Fifth, was President Harrison’s desire to further the effort to bring all of the southern citizens into conformity with the goals and agenda of the new federalized Union following the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln in 1863 had recommended an “Oath of Allegiance” for southerners to declare their loyalty to the new United States. Other such pledges and oaths (directed to those living in the formerly Confederate states) developed in following years, but the older citizens of the South resented most of them.
Sixth, immigration was also on the rise during these years, and government officials felt that a pledge to the flag would serve to create an ethos of loyalty among the new citizens. If new immigrants from foreign lands had felt hope of finally being accepted into a nation that looked past skin color and offered “liberty and justice for all,” they would have undoubtedly been disappointed by Francis and other Pledge promoters views on non-white citizens. Not only did the NEA not offer integration of blacks into the “public” schools until 1966, Francis himself said the following, “There are races, more or less akin to our own (author’s note: he means Anglo-Saxon), whom we may admit freely, and get nothing but advantage from the infusion of their wholesome blood. But there are other races which we cannot assimilate without a lowering of our racial standard, which should be as sacred to us as the sanctity of our homes.”4
One Nation Under God?
Many people are not aware that the original Pledge was devoid of any religious content. Bellamy’s version read: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag, and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Notably absent is the line about America being “under God.” The original intent of this Pledge of Allegiance was to give homage to a secular republic.
In a June 3, 1940 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Minersville School District v. Gobitis, the court decided that a local school board could expel students who refused to recite the Pledge. On June 22, 1942 during the patriotic fervor of WWII, congress included the Pledge in the United States Flag Code (Title 36). In 1943, one year after receiving this official sanction, the U.S. Supreme Court, in the West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette decision (a case driven by religious organizations that felt that pledging allegiance to a flag was a violation of Exodus 20), ruled that school children would not be forced to recite the Pledge in school, a ruling that still stands to this day.
The final change to the Pledge came on June 14, 1954, President Eisenhower approved the addition of the words, “under God” to the Pledge. As an explanation, he stated, “In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war.”
That same year, David Bellamy (Francis’ son), sent a message to Congress informing them that his father would not have approved of that addition. Francis’ granddaughter and great-granddaughter have also reportedly insisted that Francis would have resented this addition.6 (Baer)
I Pledge Allegiance To A Godless-State?
Fast forward to the present and we find ourselves in a culture that wants, ironically, to roll back this pledge to the original intent of Francis Bellamy, the author. Modern-day leftists desire to teach children to pledge their faithfulness and loyalty to a God-less State. This is something that must never happen.
A lawsuit brought by an atheist parent in Sacramento, CA against the words, “under God” in the Pledge was upheld in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals case, Newdow vs. U.S. Congress on February 28th, 2003. This case is destined to be decided, at some point, by the U.S. Supreme Court. The claim made by the atheist parent is that Christians are imposing their values on non-Christians by forcing them to acknowledge God (even though no child is forced by law to recite the Pledge).
The U.S. Solicitor General, Theodore Olsen, and Elk Grove School District Attorney, Terence J. Cassidy, defended the teacher-led recitation by insisting that the phrase, “under God” was merely “descriptive” and “ceremonial” rather than a “religious invocation.” In other words, you can use the words “under God” as long as you don’t mean them. Sort of like the Ten Commandments cases where you can display God’s Word publicly, as long as you don’t believe it is God’s Word. It can only be considered an historical document in the same category as the Gettysburg Address or a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Patriotism or Statism?
Patriotism is simply defined by Noah Webster as, “Love of one’s country.” The question must be asked, however, “What exactly is your country?”
Do you mean the geographical land on which you live (i.e. Papua New Guinea or Greenland)? Do you mean your fellow countrymen (i.e. your neighbors and others in proximity to you)? Do you mean a philosophical ideal or the laws that your nation represents (i.e. freedom of speech, press and religion, etc.)? Do you mean the government that enforces the ideals and the values of your nation (i.e. the monarchy, the parliament, the congress, the police, the military, etc.)? What then, are people pledging to be loyal to when they make a vow to their flag? What is encompassed in that pledge? What if there is a disconnect between the ideals of a nation and the implementation of those ideals?
Another consideration is what would you do if you were to move to or were born in Germany, Northern Sudan or Abu Dabi. Would you pledge allegiance to any land where you were born or are a current citizen? You would want to be a loyal citizen, wouldn’t you?
Biblically speaking, it would be hard to imagine making a pledge of loyalty to any part of this geographical earth. That would seem odd. We may cultivate and tend it, but not make oaths to it. We are certainly instructed to love our neighbors, but there is no Biblical instruction to vow our devotion to them (our husband or wife, yes, but not our neighbors). Again, the Scripture never tells us to pledge allegiance to a set of ideals or philosophies, except of course to God Himself, but He is not, of course, merely a set of ideals. Romans 13 instructs us to be subject unto the higher powers, but history certainly doesn’t record the early Christians pledging allegiance to Caesar. Why? Because Caesar had set himself up as a god to be worshipped instead of the true and living God. They paid taxes and they showed honor when honor was due, but they did not pledge to do whatever Caesar wanted them to do.
Making Vows and Pledges
In fact, we are discouraged in Scripture from making any vow or pledge:
Jesus said, “But I say unto you, Swear not at all…But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” (Matthew 5:34 & 37)
“But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.” (James 5:12)
May I submit to you that those who wish to remove the words, “Under God” from the Pledge are explicit in their desire to eradicate any notion of the civil government’s obligation to a Higher Authority? They want to keep the oath, but they want you to be loyal to them, not to God. That act of autonomy, along with other recent public proclamations (such as the removal of Ten Commandments monuments from public courthouses), reveals the worldview or political philosophy by which most of our nation’s leaders now stand; “one nation, out from under God.” I can assure you that a nation like that will not have liberty or justice for all.
The issue is not merely one of vanishing religious symbols or the privatization of faith, although it certainly is both. It is a statement about the belief of our government officials that there is no Supreme Being to whom they are accountable. That, my friends, is frightening. How many Terri Schiavo cases do we have to see, hate-crime laws passed or pre-born babies murdered to be convinced that there is not, actively, “liberty and justice for all”? How many pro-homosexual “marriage” laws must be passed before we concede that this is not a nation under submission and obedience to Almighty God?
Government becomes perverted with the weight of its own power and its citizens must not give unquestioned allegiance to any ruler or State. (Remember Hitler, Stalin and Saddam Hussein?) “Both Upham and Bellamy agreed the new words for a salute should be more than just a Salute, it should be a vow of loyalty or allegiance.” (Baer) We must not encourage our children to trust a government that is disobedient to God’s Word. Yes, we render to Caesar what is his, but only what is his. We do not owe Caesar all that we are – that belongs to God alone.
Author, Mark Rushdoony, writes in an essay on Christianity vs. Statism, “The early church went through a succession of persecutions because it did not represent a legal religion. What many do not realize is that such a legal status was easily given to the church, but it was repeatedly refused. Many individual martyrs were given the option of escaping a death sentence if they would submit to the Roman state by a simple declaration. All the early Christians had to do was proclaim, “Caesar is Lord,” to replace their allegiance to God with the emperor as a divinity. Most refused, recognizing that to regard Caesar as first lord was to denigrate the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The issue was, “Who is Lord?”7
Dr. Henry Morris has stated, “Patriotism is a noble attitude if one’s country and its leaders are seeking to follow God’s will. However, when such national patriotism is exploited to the point that the State – especially personified in its leaders (whether inherent, appointed, elected, or by conquest) – seeks to usurp the place or prerogatives of God, then it becomes idolatrous and blashphemous.”8
Luke 4:5-8 (KJV)
And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.  And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.  If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.  And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
I Pledge Allegiance To Diversity
On March 11, 2005, the We Are Family Foundation (a non-profit organization with direct ties to many pro-homosexual groups) distributed a video to 61,000 government and private elementary schools for what was called, “We Are Family Day.” The video featured many popular cartoon characters singing and dancing to the popular disco hit, “We Are Family.” It seemed harmless enough (as if any such massive campaign could be innocent!), but as you might suspect, there was a sinister motive. Government schooling has always, from its inception, had the intent of creating a certain type of citizen. Schools are becoming increasingly confident in their ability to shape the beliefs and values of the young.
Educational expert, Samuel Blumenfeld, asserts, “(I)mported from Europe was the idea of Hegelian statism, the idea that the State was God on earth. It was this idea that emboldened educators to believe that it was the State’s duty to mold its children – its “most precious natural resource” – into obedient servants of the state.”8
Many children, who have for generations become used to pledging their allegiance and unquestioned loyalty to the government, were suddenly given a new pledge to which they were to swear their allegiance. I’m referring to the so-called, “Tolerance Pledge” which states in part, “To help keep diversity a wellspring of strength and make America a better place for all, I pledge to have respect for people whose abilities, beliefs, culture, race, sexual orientation or other characteristics are different from my own.” (Emphasis added.)
This is not a question of loving one’s neighbor, or of being kind to those who disagree with you. This is an all-out attempt to create a citizenry that is in lock-step with what the leftist ideologues of our day envision; a “utopia” where anyone who lives a sinful lifestyle is praised and anyone with a deeply-held Christian faith is marginalized and ridiculed. The new pledge ends by promising:
“To fulfill my pledge, I _______, will examine my own biases and work to overcome them, set a positive example for my family and friends, work for tolerance in my own community, speak out against hate and injustice. We share a world. For all our differences, we share one world. To be tolerant is to welcome the differences and delight in the sharing.” (This pledge originally appeared on the We Are Family Foundation’s website, but was removed at one point to hide their agenda.)
The real heart of the matter is the struggle over which side gets to define the terms. The leftists say that you are hateful if you lovingly spank your children. According to Proverbs 13:24, refusing to physically discipline your children is a hate-crime. According to leftists, you are committing a hate crime if you tell your neighbor that he is wrong to be living a homosexual lifestyle and that he needs to repent. The Bible says in James 5:20 that if you do this you are being loving. The above pledge may sound good until you realize what they mean by the words they use.
Dr. James Dobson said regarding this pledge, “Every individual is entitled to respect and human dignity, including those with whom we disagree strongly. The problem is not with acceptance or kindness, certainly. But kids should not be taught that homosexuality is just another ‘lifestyle,’ or that it is morally equivalent to heterosexuality. Scripture teaches that all overtly sexual activity outside the bonds of marriage is sinful and harmful. Children should not be taught otherwise by their teachers, and certainly not if their parents are unaware of the instruction.”8
It would seem to me that the best way to be aware of the instruction your children receive is to teach them yourself. Increasingly schools are emphasizing making vows and pledges on numerous issues from “Earth Day” pledges where students swear to protect the environment (for example):
“I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag of our Mother Planet, the Earth,
and to the Environment in which we live, one Global Home,
Indivisible, with unspoiled water, unpolluted air,
and protected natural resources for All Life!”
There are tolerance and diversity pledges like the ones discussed above, and the ever increasing push to swear allegiance to being a citizen of “one world” in the new global society (remember Michael New who was court marshaled because he refused to swear an oath of allegiance to the United Nations while serving in the U.S. Military?).
Many workplaces are also encouraging pledges to diversity (which include pledges to respect “Sexual Preference”): http://www.udel.edu/PR/Messenger/03/2/ASembracing.html
Even universities are getting in on the action:
“I understand that Villanova University is a community comprised of many different types of people. In addition to the many different cultural groups we belong to, such as race, sexual orientation, physical ability, and gender, we are all coming to the University with many different kinds of experiences that have formed who we are as individuals. Fully understand that I wish to be treated with respect for who I am as a person. I herby profess that I will make every effort to accept and respect people who may be different than me.”
The peer pressure to go along with these promises is huge, especially when all of the other classmates are doing it. Most young impressionable students lack the ability to think critically and work through these issues alone. Parents need to discuss with their children what they should give their unquestioned loyalty to, and what they should not. Use every opportunity while you still have influence in your children’s lives to shape their values, because there is a world out there, like the young Hebrew men in Babylon (see Daniel 3) faced, that wants them to bow down to any idol made by man. Make sure they have the right foundation now so they too can say, “ We are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.  But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)
1. John Taylor Gatto, The Underground History of American Education, (New York, NY, The Odysseus Group, Inc., 2001), p. 128.
3. Stanley J. Kunitz & Howard Haycraft, American Authors 1600-1900: A Biographical Dictionary of American Literature; (New York, NY: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1939), p. 70
4. Dr. John W. Baer, The Pledge of Allegiance: A Centennial History 1892-1992, by, (10 Taney Avenue, Annapolis, MD 21401), 1992.
7. Rev. Mark R. Rushdoony, Why We Confront Statism, an essay in Faith For All Of Life, (Vallecito, CA. June/July 2004.)
8. Dr. Henry Morris, Christian Education for the Real World, (El Cajon, CA: Master Books, 1977), p.6
9. Samuel Blumenfled, The History of Public Education, an essay printed in PHS #30, 1999. Copyright 1993-2004 Home Life, Inc.
10. Family News From Dr. James Dobson, February 2006, Focus on the Family, Colorado Spring, CO 80995.
Israel Wayne is an author and conference speaker and Director of Family Renewal, LLC.