Subject: America’s Biblical Heritage – One Nation Under God
Psalm 33:12 “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, and the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.”
“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.”
Chapter 171 of the Missouri Revised Statutes, Section 171.021.2 reads: “Every school in this state which is supported in whole or in part by public moneys shall ensure that the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America is recited in at least one scheduled class of every pupil enrolled in that school no less often than once per week. No student shall be required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.”
Sounds like common sense, to teach our children one of the basic truths of what makes America so great. But Missouri’s law challenged a panel of three federal judges, from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, who had ruled the pledge was unconstitutional. Why? They claimed the pledge phrase “one nation under God” was a government endorsement of religion, violating the separation of church and state.
Today, there are five states that don’t give the needed ten seconds each day in school for students to recite the pledge of allegiance (Hawaii, Iowa, Oklahoma, Vermont and Wyoming). Forty-five states give time for the pledge, but it is still at the discretion of the local school board and/or the individual teacher.
You may be surprised to learn the history behind the pledge. It was first written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister and Christian socialist. It read like this: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” It wasn’t until 1923 that the words “the Flag of the United States of America” were added.
Then on February 7, 1954, as President Dwight Eisenhower sat in church services at former President Abraham Lincoln’s church, New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, Pastor George MacPherson Docherty delivered a sermon based on the Gettysburg Address titled “A New Birth of Freedom.” Pastor Docherty explained that Lincoln’s words “under God” were the foundation that set the United States apart from all other nations. He challenged the congregation that “there was something missing in the pledge, and that which was missing was the characteristic and definitive factor in the American way of life.” This factor was that America is distinct from other nations because we are people dedicated to the God of the Bible.
Within four months of that sermon, President Eisenhower signed into law the ill that added the words “under God” to our Pledge of Allegiance. He said “From this day forward, the millions of our school children will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural school house, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty…. In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource, in peace or in war.”
There is also a very profound set of truths in our pledge, that stand as a worldview distinctly separate from other major worldviews that draw us together as a nation. First, the phrase “under God” eliminates atheism. America as a nation separates itself from secular humanism or Buddhism, which are worldviews that are centered on a belief that there is no God, but man is capable of making his world better.
Secondly, the phrase “indivisible” eliminates the Pantheistic worldview of Hinduism and Eastern philosophies, where the Hindu caste system divide people into predetermined classes, taking away the God-ordained dignity of individuals. And thirdly, the phrase “with liberty and justice for all” eliminates the Islamic worldview, which is not centered on liberty and justice for all citizens but rather ‘sharea’ law.
America aligns with a biblical worldview, centered on the main event in world history – the Cross of Jesus Christ. Unlike the other worldviews described above, the Cross is God’s initiative toward man, instead of man’s self-initiative to either define his own world or reach Him through his own efforts. At the Cross, Christ achieves what no person can – the payment for the moral guilt every person carries. Anyone, regardless of gender, ethnicity or social status, can enter into an intimate relationship with God by trusting in Christ. This is what the pledge is about – allegiance to the God who through His Son gives us true liberty.