One Nation Under God Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1599 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 16  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion


One Nation Under God


One Nation Under God

I am assuming that every school child in America today during a typical school day has at one time or another had to cross his or her heart with the right hand and recite with the rest of the class the Pledge of Allegiance. The original pledge represented democracy at its finest. "Well, he was trying to get the essence of American democracy. and, of course, 'one nation, indivisible.' He was an enthusiast for the union, and he knew the essence of American democracy was equality, liberty and justice for all. But his version was changed in 1923, and he was very sore about that." (All Things Considered) This ritual has been a part of our educational system for many years. This report aims to provide some insights into the pledge by covering things like where it originated, why it was created and what it means. The research also provides the reason our school aged children still recite it. In the late 1990's, the Pledge of Allegiance started to come under fire for the specific phrase 'One Nation under God' and the constitutionality of saying that in our schools. However, a look into the pledge's history shows that we are not currently reciting the original verses because there have been strategic changes to the pledge during points of American history. The report concludes with some viewpoints in favor and against the pledge being said in the United States school system and the pledge's constitutionality.

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TOPIC: Term Paper on One Nation Under God Assignment

The pledge was published for the first time on September 8, 1982 in the "The Youth's Companion" which was a leading magazine of the time. It was in August of the same year where a Christian Socialist Baptist minister named Francis Bellamy originally wrote the pledge based his socialist philosophies and ideas from his first cousin's books, Looking Backward and Equality. The cousin author, Edward Bellamy, was also known for his socialist utopian ideals he often presented in his novels. "The pledge was meant to echo the sentiments and ideals of Bellamy's cousin, Edward Bellamy, an author of "Looking Backward" and other socialist utopian novels, according to pledge expert John Baer." (Harris)

The Bellamy cousins both supported a socialist middle class planned economy that supported political, social and economic equality for citizens. Francis Bellamy also just happened to be the chairman of the state superintendents of education committee for the National Education Association. From this powerful position he was able to establish a program for the nation's public schools where each morning the children performed a flag raising ceremony that incorporated a salute and the 'Pledge of Allegiance.'

The original pledge read: 'I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.' Historians have discovered that Bellamy had considered placing the word 'equality' in the pledge but was to well aware that his peers, the various state superintendents of education, were against equality for women and blacks. He also made a change in October of 1982 where he added the word 'to' before 'the republic.'

Under God

The original pledge has changed over the years. For example, in 1923 and 1924, against Bellamy's wishes, the American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution changed the words 'my Flag,' to 'the Flag of the United States of America.' In 1954, the United States Congress added the words 'under God' to the Pledge because of a controversial campaign by the Knights of Columbus better known as the KKK. "In June of 1954, at the height of the McCarthy hysteria, and at the urging of the Knights of Columbus, an amendment was made to add the words "under God." Then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower said of the pledge, "From this day forward, the millions of our school children will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and every rural school house, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty." (Johnson)

The American Legion, the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Knights of Columbus had technically converted the pledge into a combination of a patriotic oath and public prayer. These changes brought into question the pledges constitutionality. "In a decision that stunned the nation, a federal appeals court in June ruled that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is unconstitutional because the pledge contains the words "under God." In a 2-1 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said that the phrase violates the First Amendment's prohibition on the establishment of religion." (Chmielewski)


The pledge began taking heat about its constitutionality in the late 1990's. In 2003 the Supreme Court was asked to intervene and decide the pledges' constitutionality. "The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to decide whether it's unconstitutional for children in public schools to pledge their allegiance to "one nation under God." (Gearan) Lower district and state courts had already banned the pledge of allegiance in several states. "The U.S. Supreme Court may decide this summer whether to hear an appeal of a lower court's decision that the Pledge of Allegiance cannot be recited in schools. The lower court ruled the pledge violates the separation of church and state in using the words "under God." The attorneys general of the 50 states have asked the court to overturn the ruling, which came about when a California atheist filed suit claiming the pledge violated his daughter's religious freedom." (Elvin) This predicament has divided our society. There are legitimate points made by both sides of the fence:

Those who believe that the pledge is unconstitutional point to President Eisenhower's public statement in 1954 when the words "under God" were added to the pledge by an act of Congress. As he signed the bill, Eisenhower said, "From this day forward, the millions of our schoolchildren will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural schoolhouse, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty." (Paulson)

Those who support the pledge and the "one nation under God" clause argue that the First Amendment was designed to prevent government from showing favoritism to a specific faith but doesn't impose a ban on acknowledging some superior being in the universe. (Paulson)

This heated debate even has a funny side. "Absolutely. For instance, I suspect that the Pledge of Allegiance was recited at the beginning of every National Guard drill Dan Quayle attended, but the people in infantry companies in Vietnam often didn't have time for that sort of thing. So Dan Quayle is more patriotic than the people who went to Vietnam. Are you sure you wouldn't like a bowl of this stuff with cocoa-flavored riboflavin in it?" (Trillian)


In conclusion, American school children have been reciting the Pledge of Allegiance throughout their school careers. Today the courts are being made to decide the constitutionality of the pledge. This report aimed to give insights into the Pledge of Allegiance by covering things like where it originated, why it was created and what it meaning is. The research also provided the reason why our schools recite the pledge. The Pledge of Allegiance has come under fire for the specific phrase 'One Nation under God' and the constitutionality of saying that in our schools. A look into the pledge's history can show that we are not reciting the original verses and the author actually was against the changes that have brought the unconstitutional issues to light. The report concluded by giving viewpoints in favor and against the pledge and its constitutionality. The courts will decide the pledges future. "The Pledge of Allegiance case pushes the court into an emotional argument over religion, patriotism and schools. Activists on both sides of the church-state divide immediately predicted one… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "One Nation Under God" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

One Nation Under God.  (2004, October 28).  Retrieved September 26, 2021, from

MLA Format

"One Nation Under God."  28 October 2004.  Web.  26 September 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"One Nation Under God."  October 28, 2004.  Accessed September 26, 2021.