I have seen a lot of memes on social media recently that have had a focus on the Pledge of Allegiance and the Lord’s Prayer. The memes suggest that if these two things were still in public schools, then the society would not be troubled – as the people posting these memes seem to think it is. I surmise that they are referring to the ‘good troubles’ of John Lewis, and if you break that down I suppose you are talking about troubles caused by Black Lives Matter, and if you break that down then you have entered the rabbit hole of trumplogic, and then you start babbling like a baby.
Trumplogic has led us to this: According to a Reuters Poll 55% of Republicans still believe the election was stolen. According to a Marist Poll 41% of Republicans don’t plan to get vaccinated against Covid 19. I won’t even go into the rabbit hole reasoning about why so many people will not get vaccinated right now.
A little bit of history may shed some light on pledges and prayers.
While white folks were praying and pledging through the 1940’s the Japanese Americans who lived on the West Coast were being interned in camps in multiple states while German Americans were not being interned anywhere in any state. While praying and pledging were going on in schools in the 1950’s and 1960’s redlining (denial of financial services for home loans, health care, and even location of supermarkets based on the area that people lived in) was being used against African Americans and the Jim Crow laws were in full force in multiple states. The racial and color differences here speak for themselves.
The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by a man named Francis Bellamy. He was a socialist (appreciate the irony of this) by the way and he was also a Baptist minister who believed in the absolute separation of church and state. Therefore he did not include the phrase ‘under God’ in his pledge. The ‘under God’ phrase was added to the pledge in 1954. This was a time when the ‘Commies’ were our enemy and we wanted to make sure that we were displaying a clear difference between us and those heathen ‘others’. The pledge was actually struck down as a mandated pledge by the Supreme Court in 1943, although it did remain permissible if it was voluntary. The Court, in striking it down as mandatory wrote the following in the opinion:
“to believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous instead of a compulsory routine is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to FREE MINDS. (my emphasis)
The Lord’s Prayer was involved in a Supreme Court case in 1962, in which school sponsored prayer was seen as a violation of First Amendment rights. The case did not say that prayer had to be removed, but that it could not be school sponsored. Students could meet and pray on school grounds and so today we have a hodge podge of use of the prayer across the 50 states.
For those of you who still yearn for the ‘good old days’, I remind you that what was good for you was most certainly not the ‘good old days’ for others. Give some thought and some effort to being part of a larger society that encompasses different religions, different life styles, and different beliefs. You are a part of that larger world, and it helps us all if we each behave responsibly to each other.