Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pastor who got "under God" added to pledge dies

Lest there was any remaining doubt that the 1954 insertion of "under God" into the pledge of allegiance was explicitly religious, the news has covered the death of the Rev. George M. Docherty, a Presbyterian minister from Scotland, noting that it was his sermon heard by President Dwight D. Eisenhower that prompted the change:
"I didn't know that the Pledge of Allegiance was, and he recited it, 'one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,'" he recalled in an interview with The Associated Press in 2004. "I came from Scotland, where we said 'God save our gracious queen,' 'God save our gracious king.' Here was the Pledge of Allegiance, and God wasn't in it at all."
He delivered his sermon calling for "under God" to be added to the pledge first in 1952 with little effect, but delivered it again on February 7, 1954, while Eisenhower was in attendance at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington D.C., near the White House. Eisenhower immediately let Congress know he wanted it to happen, and Rep. Charles G. Oakman (R-MI) introduced a bill the very next day to make that addition, which Eisenhower signed into law on Flag Day.

Michael Newdow currently has a second lawsuit working its way through the courts to remove "under God" from the pledge on the grounds that Congress's action was a violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment. His first lawsuit went to the Supreme Court, where the justices declined to rule on the merits of the argument, and instead reasoned that he lacked standing to bring the suit because he was involved in a custody dispute over his daughter, who was the plaintiff because she was required to recite the pledge in school. That ruling, like Eisenhower's signing of the original unconstitutional bill, was delivered on Flag Day (in 2004).

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