After 50 years have been passed since the phrase “under God” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954, the validity of the phrase is being questioned by an atheist, Michael Newdow. As the Supreme Court is scheduled to hold court hearing Wednesday, March 24, many supporters of the phrase, including students, college professors, and Christian advocate groups are voicing their opinions in defense of pledging allegiance to "one nation under God."
Even though there are some criticisms against the phrase “under God,” calling it a threat to the separation of church and state by letting government endorsing religion, according to an ABCNEWS.com/Washington Post poll, 89 percent of Americans still believe the phrase should remain in the pledge.
The Knights of Columbus, a Roman Catholic men’s organization based in New Haven, Conn. with about 1.7 million members, has filed a brief in the case for Wednesday in defense of inclusion of the phrase “under God” into the pledge. The Knights was actively involved in petitioning President Eisenhower and Congress to make the change back in 1954 for adoption of the pledge “under God.”
The group's brief says that with the exception of George Washington's second inaugural address in 1789 "every single presidential inaugural address includes references to God, whether as a source of rights, of blessing to the country, or of wisdom and guidance."
"If reciting the pledge is unconstitutional simply because it refers to a nation 'under God,' then reciting the Declaration of Independence ... is surely cast in doubt," the brief says.
According to the brief the Bush administration has filed in defense of the Pledge, the phrase is an indicator of patriotic acknowledgments of "the nation's religious history" and of the "undeniable historical fact that the nation was founded by individuals who believed in God," which is an empirical statement that poses no threat to the separation of church and state.
According to the brief filed by the Christian Legal Society, a group of lawyers, judges and professors, the words "under God" support the concept of limited government, serving as a reminder that "government is not the highest authority in human affairs" because "inalienable rights come from God."
Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, who also filed a brief on the case, said the phrase reflects one of the nation's founding principles, that "rights emanate from God, not from government."
Jordan Lorence, senior counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, said the words “under God” express a political philosophy built on the principles that have played a significant historical role in American civilization. “The pledge is not a prayer or a religious exercise, but recognizes the faith of our founders that made our country great.”
“The so-called ‘separation of church and state’ cannot be found in the U.S. Constitution or the First Amendment,” said Lorence. “It’s time for us to toss this means of censoring people of faith where it belongs – into the dustbin of history.”
Whereas those who are against including the words “under God” think it is a threat to the separation of church and state, Dr. George Sprowls, professor of political science at Fairmont State College doesn’t think the pledge is about religion at all.
"It's more of a ceremonial exercise than a religious doctrine," Sprowls said. "It is political socialization -- teaching children to respect their country."
A student at Taylor County Middle School also voiced her opinion, saying taking out the God reference would be a bad move. "This nation was founded under God, and I don't think it would be right to take it out," Micala Myers said. "The pledge is important because it shows respect for our country and what the soldiers went through to give us our freedom."