The Pledge of Allegiance was codified in 1942 during a spike in emotion surrounding World War II. In 1954, Congress inserted the words "under God". In 2002, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the 1954 edit was an unconstitutional establishment of religion. What few have yet realized is that the 1942 law was itself unconstitutional - violating free speech by stuffing words into the mouths of its citizens.
Who's Pledging What to Whom?
The Pledge of Allegiance should be a citizen's pledge to the flag and the nation it represents. The nation is its people, not its government. Therefore, the flag belongs to and represent us, not our national government. Therefore, in its purest form, reciting a pledge of allegiance is pledging one's self to one's fellow citizens.
However, when Congress codifies one Pledge of Allegiance, when government institutions like schools command recitation, then government takes ownership, and our obedience is loyalty to government, not to each other.
When, in a government school or elsewhere, we obediently recite the government's pledge on command, we are no longer volunteering anything. Our government is demanding obeisance from us, and our pledge therefore is an oath of fealty to the government, not allegiance to our fellow citizens.
I am offended.
What Can We Do?
We can solve the "under God" flap and my own objections very simply: Repeal the 1942 act and abolish all other codified pledges. At that point, we free citizens may, individually or in free associations, craft our own pledges in our own words, and we may recite them in times and places of our own choosing.
Neither we nor our children should ever again have words thrust down our throats by an overweening government that can pen "liberty and justice for all" without even comprehending the meaning.
Copyright 2003-2004 Jeff Fisher: