Nation, Under Allah, Indivisible
I pledge allegiance, to the flag of the United States of America and to the
republic for which it stands, one nation, under Allah, indivisible, with
liberty and justice for all.
This is the "Pledge" that I recited at tonight’s Duluth School
Board meeting. For the last four years the Board has said the “Pledge”
immediately after calling the roll. Until this evening I’ve always said the
more familiar Pledge with “God” in it. Until we've sorted things out in
I'll be reciting this amended version as a gesture of good will to the Islamic
world. It’s a reflection of my hope that
will not stumble into a second Cold War this time with Islamic fundamentalism
rather than communism.
As an agnostic (a person who hasn't decided what to make of God) it won’t be
terribly wrenching for me to substitute Allah for God. Besides, I grew up
during the ecumenical movement of the 1960's when many Christian denominations
held hands and sang kumbayah together in a show of unity. I'm inclined to
think that the world’s major religions have pretty much the same objective.
As far as I'm concerned God, Yahweh, Allah, and the Great Spirit are just
different names for the same being/phenomenon. Because the First Amendment to
the Constitution forbids Congress from writing any "…law respecting an
establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" it
seems logical that every American should feel free to insert their own
preferred deity into the Pledge of Allegiance.
haven't always felt this way. For a few years I was a purist about the
“Establishment Clause” and omitted the phrase "under God" when
reciting the Pledge but I've gotten over that. Today I rather like the idea
that there is something more compelling than the mere creation of human
kind including even America's marvelous Constitutional government. If I
was an atheist I would probably still omit "God" however, I’ve
never been able to muster the intellectual rigor that atheism requires.
It turns out that editing the Pledge isn't all that unusual. In 1924 "of
" was officially added following the word "flag." "Under
God" was added by Congress in 1954 when
was hysterical about "Godless communism." Today some pro-lifers add
"born and unborn" to the end of the standard Pledge, while some
liberals add "with equality" before the phrase "liberty and
justice." In fact, the author of the Pledge, a Baptist minister, wanted
to include "equality" in the Pledge. Unfortunately, the
idea of granting equality to women or black Americans back in 1892 was
far too radical.
The Pledge is currently embroiled in court. California's
notoriously liberal 9th Court of Appeals ruled it "unconstitutional"
last year because of "under God." Predictably, irate congressmen
have introduced a Bill to break up the 9th District and
teach its rascally judicial activists a lesson.
I'm not sure how critical it is for the nation to have a Pledge. Neither
George Washington or Abraham Lincoln ever recited it, yet no one doubts their
loyalty to the nation. I doubt that my Grandfather, who was five before
the Pledge was written, ever recited it during his public school years. Still,
that didn't stop him from enlisting in the Army when
went to war in 1918. Neither did God’s absence from the pledge in 1944 stop
my Father from enlisting in the Navy. A lot of Americans in Arlington Cemetery
never heard of the Pledge of Allegiance.
I suspect that
’s 3 to 6 million Moslems have to swallow hard when reciting the Pledge as
it is now written. It does seem to imply that a Christian God, not a Moslem
God, rules the land. While some Christians might try to assure American
Moslems that the word "God" is simply generic I’ll bet a lot of
Christians would choke before reciting a Pledge with "Allah" in it.
Frankly, Americans of all faiths should feel free to say the Pledge with a
term that is appropriate to their particular religious circumstance. Native
Americans could say "Great Spirit," devout Jews could say Yahweh
etc. I'm not sure what practitioners of religions without a monotheistic deity
would feel comfortable saying but I'd leave it up to them to insert
"Karma," "Golden Rule," or whatever fits their faith. Even
Atheists should feel free to add a phrase that appeals to their conscience.
Now that the
in on the verge of war we have an opportunity to rethink the profound
religious implications of our Pledge. An exclusionary Pledge fails to honor
our Founding Fathers' intense desire to free us from the contagion of
religious hatred. So, for the foreseeable future, I'm putting Allah in the
Pledge. I hope that Allah smiles on the land of the free and the home of the
Welty is a small time politician who lets it all hang out at www.snowbizz.com