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Monday evening I attended a School Choice forum in a North suburb at a packed auditorium with several hundred people. The crowd, concerned about poor educational performance in the country, listened to a panel discussion led by talk show host Michael Medved and PBS-terminated-for-aberrant-views Juan Williams.

The moderator started the event with the 31-word “pledge of allegiance.”

“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.”

While joining the pledge, I was struck how somberly at-attention the crowd, which was primarily conservative and libertarian, recited it. As before, I only joined in earnest at “one nation under God” and put emphasis on “with liberty and justice for all.” Without drawing attention to myself I avoided pledging allegiance to the state.

Few people know the pledge was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, a socialist and Baptist minister. In his pledge, he is expressing the ideas of his first cousin, Edward Bellamy, author of American socialist utopian novels. Eventually Bellamy was booted from the church because of the socialist bent of his sermons. In an amazing contradiction for the socialist, the pledge was promoted as a way to sell flags and make profit.

It wasn’t until 1954, in response to the Communist threat, that Eisenhower added “under God”–over the objection of Bellamy’s daughter. The original Pledge of Allegiance, as dictated by Francis Bellamy, used a straight-arm salute , the arm to be raised at the word “flag.” The hand-over-the-heart salute we know today was adopted after National Socialists hijacked the original salute.

The pledge has five elements: allegiance to the flag (a representation of the country) and the republic (the state), recognition of God, a statement that we are indivisible, and a trailer “with liberty and justice for all” almost as an after-thought.

Bellamy placed prominence on allegiance to the “state” by placing it first and, in effect, doubling down with allegiance to the flag and to the republic. Does that mean obedience to the 58,401 TSA agents who wear flag patches on their uniforms?

The pledge written by Bellamy is, in imagery if not substance, contradictory to the ideals put forth in the Declaration of Independence “…..that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Where the Declaration and Constitution emphatically and primarily emphasizes liberties and limited government, the allegiance raises the significance of the “state.” Although writing the allegiance would have been out of character for Thomas Jefferson, it was completely harmonious with the socialist beliefs of Bellamy.

Perhaps my queasiness at the pledge of allegiance is out-of-step today, as we are led by President Obama who believes that the Constitution reflects a fundamental flaw in this country and states:

“…the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties, says what the states can’t do to you, says what the federal government can’t do to you, but it doesn’t say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf.”

Have a fulfilling and profitable day,

WC (Bill) Augustine


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