Atheists Added Something to a Question About Removing ‘Under God’ From the Pledge That Yielded a Shocking Result

  TheBlazeNews,com

More than one-third of Americans support removing “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, according to an atheist activist group.

The American Humanist Association claims that a survey it commissioned through the Seidewitz Group, a research firm, found that, when given details about the history of the national expression of loyalty, 34 percent of Americans actually support removing “under God” from the Pledge.

This is significant, as the proportions differ greatly from the single-digit support seen for the removal in at least one recent survey — and the atheist group believes that’s because of one key difference in the way it posed the question.

Before being asked for their opinion on the removal of the controversial phrase, respondents were given some background on the issue.

Fairmeadow Elementary School students recite the Pledge of Allegiance during a school assembly in Palo Alto, Calif., Monday, Nov. 5, 2007.  A 9th Circuit in San Francisco hears appeal of Pledge of Allegiance case on Tuesday.  An atheist seeking to remove the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance and U.S. currency is taking his arguments back to a federal appeals court. Michael Newdow, a Sacramento doctor and lawyer, sued the Elk Grove Unified School District in 2000 for forcing public school children to recite the pledge, saying it was unconstitutional.  (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

“For its first 62 years, the Pledge of Allegiance did not include the phrase ‘under God,’” those taking the poll were told before answering the question. “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.” [Note that this last sentence in the question is a commentary intended to influence the outcome.]

Based on this information, respondents were then asked if the U.S. should return to the “unchanged version” or continue with the “changed version” of the Pledge.

A majority — 66 percent of Americans — said they’d like to see “under God” remain, with one-third of the nation supporting a removal.

The American Humanist Association, though, has made it clear that it opposes the current wording, with executive director Roy Speckhardt claiming that it ”marginalizes atheists, agnostics, humanists and other nontheists because it presents them as less patriotic, simply because they do not believe in God.”

The atheist group noted that these proportions are intriguing, as they differ from past research on the matter. As TheBlaze reported earlier this year, a survey from LifeWay Research, a Christian polling firm, found that the vast majority of Americans have no problem with the words “under God” in the Pledge.

When asked, “Should the words ‘under God’ be removed from or remain in the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States of America?,” 85 percent of respondents opted to keep the current wording. Only 8 percent of those surveyed said it should be removed.

The American Humanist Association believes that educating Americans about the origins of the wording in its survey actually helped increase the proportion of those opposing “under God.”

“We are encouraged by these findings, which suggest with even a small amount of education, more Americans are in favor of restoring the Pledge to its original wording,” Speckhardt said.

The organization also asked Americans about the appropriateness of opening meetings in the names of Jesus or Allah. While 47.7 percent felt it was inappropriate to open prayers in Jesus’ name, this proportion jumped to 75.6 percent when respondents were asked about Allah.

The sample size of 1,000 Americans were drawn in May from an online panel with a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

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A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

The Pledge of Allegiance

The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy (1855-1931). It was originally published in The Youth’s Companion on September 8, 1892. Bellamy had hoped that the pledge would be used by citizens in any country.

In its original form it read:

“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

In 1923, the words, “the Flag of the United States of America” were added. At this time it read:

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words “under God,” creating the 31-word pledge we say today. Bellamy’s daughter objected to this alteration. Today it reads:

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Section 4 of the Flag Code states:

The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”, should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. When not in uniform men should remove any non-religious headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and render the military salute.”

The original Bellamy salute, first described in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, who authored the original Pledge, began with a military salute, and after reciting the words “to the flag,” the arm was extended toward the flag.

At a signal from the Principal the pupils, in ordered ranks, hands to the side, face the Flag. Another signal is given; every pupil gives the flag the military salute — right hand lifted, palm downward, to a line with the forehead and close to it. Standing thus, all repeat together, slowly, “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands; one Nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.” At the words, “to my Flag,” the right hand is extended gracefully, palm upward, toward the Flag, and remains in this gesture till the end of the affirmation; whereupon all hands immediately drop to the side.

The Youth’s Companion, 1892

Shortly thereafter, the pledge was begun with the right hand over the heart, and after reciting “to the Flag,” the arm was extended toward the Flag, palm-down.

In World War II, the salute too much resembled the Nazi salute, so it was changed to keep the right hand over the heart throughout.