I remember the day, Flag Day 1954, when I, along with all students and teachers at Highland Park elementary school in Salt Lake City, Utah, filed outside to recite with hand over heart the newly revised Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands. The only difference from the old pledge was meaningful to me, even as a seven-year-old boy—the words “under God” were added:
“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.”
We were instructed to render the Pledge by standing at reverent attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. That Flag Day, I saw many of the teachers, with memories and wounds from WWII and the Korean War, shed tears as they recited the Pledge.
Now, of course, members of the Supreme Court of the USA, in their infinite wisdom, have ruled that the Pledge is optional: students cannot be compelled to recite the Pledge or be punished for not doing so. They have a left-wing right to remain silent.
Nix the Motto: Cut God from Currency?
Shockingly, many U.S. citizens don’t realize that our official national motto, not just some phrase picked in a Las Vegas lotto, is the solemn declaration: “In God We Trust”.
As a nine-year-old boy, I remember the day in 1956 when this motto was officially adopted as the nation’s motto, replacing the unofficial motto of E pluribus unum. Although “In God We Trust” first appeared on U.S. coins in 1864, it did not appear on U.S. paper currency until 1957. Again, as a 10-year-old boy, I remember when Congress passed a Joint Resolution declaring IN GOD WE TRUST must appear on U.S. currency.
Today a chorus of individuals and organized groups, led by the ACLU, have expressed objections to the use of the words “In God We Trust” on our currency, claiming it is a religious reference that should be removed because it violates their First Amendment rights, at least as they interpret their rights under the First Amendment.
Little wonder, then, why we see many people remain so casual—or even kneel or sit in protest—with no hand over heart, during recitations of our anthems, pledges and mottos.
What Do I Think?
I think that people who refuse to recite our national anthems, pledges and mottos would benefit from an extended foreign experience and/or military experience. They might opt to live and work elsewhere for a few years. Or, they might serve their country in a branch of the military or church mission for a few years.
When I returned to the U.S.A. from my two-year church mission in Argentina, the captain, knowing that returning Mormon missionaries were aboard the flight, approached JFK in such a way as to afford us a view of the Statue of Liberty. I shed tears.
For 30 years I served as founding editor/publisher of Personal Excellence and Leadership Excellence magazines. I would receive letters of protest from customers and cancellations of subscriptions when we would run articles, bylined by their authors, with affirmations of faith in God or any mention of God, Christ, Spirit, religion or church.
My response: “I will miss you as a customer.” In other words, I refuse to change the words of the author to appease your personal protest.
I felt then, as I do now, that Editing God Out of copy for our magazines would constitute an act of editorial EGO. I would not only by editing out the word God from copy, I would be excising an expression of faith, without a worthy substitution, thus leaving a void. Some avid atheists demand such action of editors and publishers, seeing it as an exercise of their Government-given rights, as if it were an exorcism of evil with an editorial X-Acto knife.
Here’s my hang-up with putting down and casting out God. Once we remove God from our motto or pledge, with what or with whom do we replace Him? If we are not one nation, under God, then what? If we don’t trust in God, then in whom or in what do we trust? See, I want to know the substitute for deity. Or, do we want a void?
What Fills the Void of Faith?
Once God is off our coins and out of the pledge, many substitute candidates for national mottos and pledges rush to the front of the line. How about these options?
In Trump We Trust. In Fraud We Trust. In Madona We Lust. In Us We Trust.
One Nation Under Sod. One Nation under Sodom. One Nation Under Government.
And it gets worse. Into the void left by the lack of faith race many a face, some of them so dark that we can only imagine them in a nightmare. They are faces of greed, lust, power, might, and fright . . . the faces of those who wish to be their own supreme being.
These are the faces of evil that we see depicted in hero movies like Captain America and Star Wars, and some of them are so evil they make Darth Vader look like Garth Brooks.
But this is what happens when we brook (tolerate) evil and even look for evil and opt for evil over good, government over God, and X-mas over Christmas. Christ gets the axe; he’s x-ed. God is gone. Spirit is no longer Holy, only a commercial holiday.
Elvis (the pelvis) once sang, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread, and so I come to you, my love, my heart above my head. Though I see the danger there, if there’s a chance for me, then I don’t care. So open up your heart and let this fool rush in.”
This argument whether to keep One Nation Under God as our Pledge of Allegiance and In God We Trust as our Motto, hits on matters of the heart and head, of fools and angels, of anger and danger, of love and life. We choose to have freedom for faith, not freedom from faith.
Faith is Not Fanaticism
Finally, having faith does not brand one a fanatic. I see the justifiable pushback because of the many abuses of religion, nationalism, and Holy Wars. It seems that everybody in the world believes that God is on their side and that they rightfully fight, and kill, in the name of their God. So, why have a God? Why not leave God out of Government and off coins and pledges?
I suppose, for me, it circles back to my boyhood, how I felt when I recited my pledge and motto to my country, The United States of America. Sorry, this is not just another nation. It was founded to be a lighthouse on the shore, a beacon of hope, a bread basket of food, a statue of liberty, a home of the brave . . . one nation, under God, for in God alone can we fully trust.