Hello, and welcome to Parent Like You Mean It – the podcast where we talk about what it means to parent with intentionality, instead of just letting one day turn into the next as you simply survive your routines. I’m Jefferson Drexler and this week, I find myself struck with the question:
When is a piece of cloth more than just material?
My office is located in the same business park as an upholstery and fabric outlet and as I walked their rows of textiles, I realized: what was at one point an nondescript roll of white cloth eventually became the beautiful, almost sacred work of art that was my wife’s wedding gown; a bolt of fabric tossed in a corner of a warehouse was pulled out of the shadows once and became the signature upholstery on Papa and Grandma’s couch where our family has taken dozens of family portraits spanning across four generations; and thanks, in part, to the likes of Francis Hopkinson and Betsy Ross, what was at some point random rolls of red, white and blue cloth eventually were sewn together to create Old Glory.
Now, I grew up toward the end of the Cold War Era, when we recited the Pledge of Allegiance each morning at school. Honestly, it wasn’t entrenched in deep patriotism as much as it was rote memorization and tradition. We were never taught the deep meanings of each syllable in the Pledge, even as we were taught our nation’s history.
And I’m afraid that today’s kids – our kids – are growing up in a culture that is several steps even more removed from the appreciation of our National Symbols. So much so, that messages fly all over social media that we should amend our Pledge to the Flag. And who are we to argue with this stance, especially if we don’t know where it all began.
It wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned that the Pledge wasn’t a work of our Founding Fathers at all. It was actually originally written in 1892 by Baptist minister Francis Bellamy. Bellamy was asked to write something for all free children, no matter what flag or nation they were pledging allegiance to, in order to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in America.
Bellamy’s original work read:
“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Simple and generic enough.
32 years later, we amended our version to include “the Flag of the United States of America” instead of the generic “my flag”. This was done by the powers that be, fearing that incoming immigrants would salute their home flag instead of America’s. The U.S. was still a relatively young nation, with a rapid influx of immigrants seeking refuge and opportunity, so this move made a lot of sense: If you’re going to come to America and succeed as an American, you should pledge your allegiance to the Republic of America.
Then, in 1942, the government integrated the Pledge into the official U.S. Flag Code, thus bringing it into the mainstream of all America; and as a patriotic move, Congress officially endorsed the Pledge for the first time after we entered World War II. But, making sure things didn’t go to far, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that schoolchildren could not be forced to recite the Pledge just a year later.
Bringing us closer to the present, in 1952, as the U.S. found itself as the leader in the global Cold War against the Soviet Union and other Communist states, President Eisenhower signed the legislation that added the words “under God” in describing the traits of our nation.
The words were inserted to distinguish our Republic, founded on the unalienable Rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, given to us by our Creator, from our global communist enemies who had outlawed religion and murdered millions in the process.
It’s this very phrase that has been a point of contention for many Americans ever since – and even more so today, in our post-Cold-War, “marginalization is a crime” culture.
According to a recent poll from the American Humanist Association, 1/3 of Americans questioned think that “..under God…” should be removed:
“The current wording of the Pledge marginalizes atheists, agnostics, humanists and other non-theists because it presents them as less patriotic, simply because they do not believe in God,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association.
OK, first of all, they only polled 1,000 people (Gallup questions 350,000 each year).
Secondly, 2/3 of those polled say keep it. In both of President Obama’s victorious elections, the Democratic party claimed landslide wins with less than 53% of each popular vote. With a 2/3 vote, the “Keep Under God” party should be considered virtually unanimous in comparison!
And, speaking of marginalization, I had a friend growing up who was a Jehovah’s Witness. According to his family’s rules and religious traditions, he was not allowed to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, couldn’t participate in any holiday celebrations like dressing up for Halloween, Secret Santa gifts at Christmas or dreidel spinning during Hanukah. Did Alan ever feel ostracized? Perhaps. Did I admire his conviction while disagreeing with his stance on these issues? Definitely. More importantly, Alan, my other classmates and I all played along together on the ballfield, rode our bikes around town and teased girls together because his JW convictions weren’t an issue at all. Just like if a highly convicted atheist were to sit out the Pledge of Allegiance today.
On a similar note, I have a friend who was told throughout his entire childhood that he saw the world around him wrongly. He would look at a picture of a lush field with cows and wonder why the grass was colored brown. He would also look at a photo of a good nutritious breakfast and wonder why orange juice was shaded red. If we applied the same assumptions to my color blind friend as we do to today’s atheists, he would be marginalized, ostracized, and doomed for a life of failure. If the same standards were to have been put in place as the Atheists are requesting, then everyone throughout a generation’s worth of classrooms would have never been taught to differentiate between colors, because it would have made those who don’t see color feel bad. Instead, he learned how to work within the system of what everyone else was calling “red, green, brown or orange” despite the way that he sees things, and even worked for me for an entire year as my graphics coordinator. Today, he creates some of the most vivid, beautiful (and color corrected) video productions for brides and grooms that exist in the entire industry!
So, suck it up, Athiests, Agnostics and Humanists! If Alan and David could withstand “feeling marginalized” for their convictions and “otherness”, surely you can stand with conviction regardless of what the vast majority insists on. It’s what America’s God-fearing citizens have been doing ever since we thought it was wrong for England’s crown to tax us unfairly, seize our homes and force us to be Anglican Christians under penalty of imprisonment… (feeling marginalized didn’t even rank on Samuel Adams or Alexander Hamilton’s priority list.)
But, when it comes to “marginalizing” people, we don’t seem to view things in the same way as we do choosing the leader of the free world. Our Commander in Chief, who was elected by just over half of America’s voters, has the ability to activate armed troops with an executive order, but God forbid a small group of people get their feelings hurt and feel marginalized by two words describing our Founding Father’s political philosophy.
In 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said: “It’s a recognition of our Founders’ political philosophy that a power greater than government gives the people their inalienable rights.”
Yet, “under God” has been described as a “relic from the Cold War”. This couldn’t be more inaccurate. First of all, by calling it a relic means that it was a key element of a long ago culture, but the cold war ended a mere 25 years ago. Secondly, simply because it was implemented in the era of the Cold War between the U.S. and the world’s communist nations does not mean that it is no longer appropriate in separating the U.S. from the Godless threats in our world such as ISIS, Al Quaeda, or Boko Haram. President Eisenhower moved to include it in 1954 to further separate us from the Godless, and it should be done now as well.
Whenever we remove God from anything, by definition we remove all that is of God – love, joy, peace, patience, long-suffering, etc. – as He is the standard by which all these things are measured. Without such a standard, all these things just become a subjective matter of opinion. As a nation, if we remove God from our identification, we must also get rid of our unalienable rights that He has endowed upon us, that transcend how we are personified by our government. Thusly, by removing God from our society, we invite everything that is not Godly: selfishness, greed, theft, murder, lack of respect for elders, etc.
You see, even Atheist and Evolutionist William Provine stated as recently as 1998 that no ultimate foundation for ethics exists within the Darwinian Atheistic paradigm. He said that this is “so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them.” So, this leaves me wondering the same question as Dave Miller of the Apologetics Press: If there is no foundation upon which to base any ethical conclusions, then how could an atheist label any action or occurrence as “evil,” “bad,” or “wrong”?”
So, as a 21st century American parent, whose number one priority is to instill amazing values and character in my four boys, I pledge to do all that I can to teach them that there is a difference between the Republic that our Flag stands for and the Godless organizations that are scattered across the globe. Our Republic stands in the gap for the oppressed (not the marginalized), upholds liberty and justice, and is indeed One Nation Under God.
For the e-squared media network, I’m Jefferson Drexler.