On the news today I heard about the story of Pennsylvania Democratic State Representative Babette Josephs refusal to lead the Pledge of Allegiance when asked during a House State Government Committee meeting. Her reason?
“Thank you. I do not pledge the flag of the.. allegiance based on my First Amendment rights and based on the fact that I really think it’s a prayer. I don’t pray in public.”
My first reaction was, “Come on – seriously?!” Why would someone object to reciting a pledge that has been around for over 100 years – especially in a setting where their purpose for being there is to serve the people of their state which is part of this nation.
Not knowing her exact reason based on the report I heard, I could only assume she objecting to “God” being used in something associated to America.
It is tiresome sometimes, the things people choose to reject or rise up against in the name of ideals such as freedom of speech or freedom of (or is it from) religion.
We can debate whether you agree with Ms. Josephs decision – but her actions had me questioning why she would even consider the pledge a prayer – in spite of “under God”. So I did a little research and learned something I did not know. In 1954 President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words “under God”.
Original pledge created by Francis Bellamy: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Does changing what was a simple pledge intended to be used by citizens in any country to express their allegiance by adding the word “God” now make it a prayer? Does it even matter?
I believe in God and would not advocate the removal of references to him in our national identity. These references are as much a part of our US history as is the right to refuse to take part in anything that goes against one’s beliefs.
What do you think?
NOTE: I later found a local news report where they interviewed Ms. Josephs and she stated the exact reason I mention above as her reason for calling it a prayer – the addition of the words “under God”. The chairman that asked her to lead the pledge was aware that she had not recited the pledge since “under God” was added in 1954 but called on her to do so anyways.