The Pledge of Allegiance was first written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist Minister and Socialist, for the patriotic family magazine The Youth's Companion . At that time it read "I Pledge Allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands; one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
The Pledge officially became part of the US Flag Code in 1942. In 1954 the words "under God" were added to the Pledge by Congress with approval from President Dwight Eisenhower.
A 2001 lawsuit, filed by Michael A. Newdow, contested the inclusion of the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, citing a violation of church-state separation principles.
This site seeks to clarify this multi-faceted issue, offering pro and con responses to the central questions in the words of key proponents and opponents in the debate.
PRO Under God
CON Under God
PRO: Some proponents argue that the United States was created from the Christian principles of the Founding Fathers and as such the Pledge should respect the country's heritage. Others say the US Constitution protects freedom of religion and not freedom from religion. Many advocates of including "under God" in the Pledge point out that polls show at least 80% of Americans support it, that federal law already contains 22 references to "God," and that Presidents swear an oath of office ending with "so help me God." Many others claim the incorporation of religious language is a reflection of the US civic culture and not a promotion of religion.
CON: Some opponents argue that church and state should be kept separate as the Founding Fathers intended. Others say the phrase "under God" in the Pledge places "undue coercion" on young children, thus violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. They also declare that the US Constitution protects minority rights against majority will. Many advocates of removing "under God" point out that the phrase was not written into the original pledge and that the opposition to returning to the original pledge is proof that "under God" is a religious symbol and not merely a secular practice.