John M. Becker

One-Third of Americans Want 'Under God' Out of Pledge

Filed By John M. Becker | September 10, 2014 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Living
Tags: agnostic, Air Force, American Humanist Association, atheists, Pledge of Allegiance, secularism, under God

pledge-of-allegiance-under-god-real-american.jpgLast year, in response to what it calls "ongoing legal challenges" to the Pledge of Allegiance, an evangelical polling firm conducted a survey that allegedly found that just 8 percent of Americans wanted to remove the words "under God.". Predictably, the conservative media pounced, and the survey results were hyped on outlets like Faux Noise Fox News.

But the American Humanist Association, a progressive group, decided to dig deeper. The group believed that most Americans weren't likely aware of the history of the phrase "under God" -- it was added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954 as part of an effort to set America apart from Russia's "godless Communism" -- and that if they were informed about it, they'd be less likely to support its continued inclusion in the Pledge.

So they tested this hypothesis in a survey conducted in May. In it, 1,000 American adults were asked about their feelings about the Pledge after seeing the following statement:

"For its first 62 years, the Pledge of Allegiance did not include the phrase 'under God.' During the Cold War, in 1954, the phrase 'one nation indivisible' was changed to read 'one nation, under God, indivisible.' Some people feel this phrase in our national pledge should focus on unity rather than religion."

After reading this brief history, 34% of Americans -- a full one-third -- said they felt "under God" should be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. The vast majority of atheists, 41% of non-Christians, and even 21% of Christians said "under God" should be taken out of the Pledge.

The American Humanist Association's executive director, Roy Speckhardt, said his group is "encouraged" by the survey findings, "which suggest with even a small amount of education, more Americans are in favor of restoring the Pledge to its original wording." The AHA is using the survey results as a jumping-off point for a new campaign, Don't Say the Pledge, that calls on Americans to "take a stand by sitting down" and abstaining from reciting the Pledge until the religiously exclusionary "under God" is removed.

Details, after the break.

The group writes:

"Under God" wasn't part of the original Pledge of Allegiance. Those two words were added to the Pledge in 1954, when the country was in the grip of McCarthyism and communist witch-hunt hysteria.

Before 1954, the Pledge affirmed that we were "one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." Indivisible means we can rise above our differences, religious or otherwise. Liberty means the right to act and speak freely no matter what one's faith or philosophy may be. And Justice, of course, means equal rights for all, regardless of whether or not we believe in a deity. The Knights of Columbus - a Catholic men's group - led the lobbying effort to add "under God." Now the Pledge is twisted, with divisive religious language that implies true patriots must be believers.

With "under God" added, the Pledge is not a statement of patriotism. Instead, extremist preachers and politicians point to the language to validate their view that those who don't believe in God don't belong.

Incidentally, the Pledge of Allegiance isn't the only way atheists, agnostics, and humanists are discriminated against in American society -- just this week, an atheist member of the United States Air Force in Nevada was told that he would have to swear a reenlistment oath ending in "so help me God" or be forced to leave the service in November.

Current Air Force policy requires airmen to swear an oath to a deity when they enlist or reenlist -- whether or not the individual believes in such a deity -- and the USAF claims that it cannot change the policy without Congressional authority. The American Humanist Association plans to sue if the Air Force kicks the Nevada airman out in two months.

h/t: David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement.

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