About 9:30 last night we were nearing the end of our three hour drive home from a 4 day Thanksgiving visit with family. Winding past Alger I we heard our 5 year old’s barely recognizable, yet correct rhythm, recitation of our nation’s Pledge of Allegiance. I was happy to hear the strangulated pronunciation of “under God” included in his kindergarten practiced pledge. He and his second grade brother began to ask questions about what what indivisible and justice meant. If it has been too long, here’s a refresher.
“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.“
I got on the net this morning to pull up the pledge and do a little home schooling, but what to my ever wondering eyes should appear, but an article about the recent death of Rev. George M. Docherty, the pastor who’s mid ’50’s sermon was the inspiration for the 1952 addition of “under God” to our nations pledge. In 2002 Rev. Docherty, then 91 reprised his original sermon and still in this modern time, include this portion of his sermon explaining the meaning and necessity of the words “under God”
“There was something missing in this pledge,” Docherty preached yesterday, “and that which was missing was the characteristic and definitive factor in the American way of life. Indeed, apart from the phrase ‘the United States of America,’ this could be the pledge of any republic. In fact, I could hear little Muscovites repeat a similar pledge to their hammer-and-sickle flag with equal solemnity.”
“If we were to add the words ‘under the church,’ that would be dangerous. … It must be ‘under God’ to include the great Jewish community and the people of the Moslem faith and the myriad of denominations of Christians in the land. … What then of the honest atheist? … He cannot deny the Christian revelation and logically live by the Christian ethic, and if he denies the Christian ethic, he falls short of the American ideal of life.”
I recommend reading his sermon notes as they are a wonderful demonstration of how religion and government in our nation were meant to interact. In our nation, religious people can and should bring their faith along with them as they participate in our government. Our government should bear the image of it’s people as a whole and should give credit to God who most of us still feel has blessed this nation from the beginning.
Rev. Docherty’s death was a loss for our nation, yet it should be a call for all of us to continue living our faith even as we participate in our democracy.