Under God - or Going Under?
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When editor Darris McNeely asked if I could write for his column in this issue, I had just finished working on the concurrent issue of our sister publication, The Good News,focusing on America’s founding heritage—this July 4th marking the nation’s 235th birthday. Then an odd story in the news brought home again the sad reality of our drift as a nation from where we started. It highlights a growing problem in America today.
NBC network began TV coverage of the U.S. Open Golf Championship on June 19 with a pre-taped segment of children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance while patriotic military images were presented—and again while past U.S. Open winners were shown. But key phrases were omitted.
For our non-American readers, the voluntary pledge, often recited in schools, states, “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.”
In the first TV recitation, the words “under God” and “indivisible” were left out—while in the second, these and “one nation” were cut. (It should be noted that the words “under God” were not in the original pledge from 1892. They were added in 1954—deemed, then and since, an important inclusion.)
Criticism ensued on Internet social media and comment boards, and an NBC commentator quickly apologized to viewers, stating that the editing out was not meant to offend. But there was no acknowledgment of what was left out. So even the apology left out “under God.”
Clearly, omitting these words from the Pledge was deliberate on someone’s part. What gives? It could have been an intentional antireligious jab, especially as there have been court challenges to remove “under God” from the Pledge. It’s also possible, while seemingly unlikely, that this was just an “artistic” decision or meant to save a few seconds—with those responsible thinking no one would really care about this. While it turned out people did care, it would still be sad to learn that broadcasting personnel could actually think people wouldn’t—and that they themselves didn’t.
My own speculation is that perhaps some deemed the God reference to be “controversial” and wanted to be politically correct and “not offend”—despite the deletion itself being highly offensive. Even if that didn’t happen in this case, this kind of thing happens all too frequently in our society.
And how strange it is that patriotism can now be separated from God. At one time that would have seemed, well, un-American.This is all symptomatic of a much larger problem.
In early America, God was an important focus of public discourse. Today, however, it’s becoming downright impolite to talk about God in public. That’s more than pathetic. It’s horrible—and perilous. God says, “I will honor those who honor Me, but those who despise Me will be disgraced” (1 Samuel 2:30, Holman Christian Standard Bible).
In the words of the late American president Ronald Reagan, “If we ever forget that we are one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”
Tragically, that’s where things are headed. But you and I don’t have to be blown along with the winds of compromise. We can and must stand for God and His principles.
May the restoration we desperately need come quickly: not just returning to early American values, but the whole world united under God in His Kingdom—when He and His Word will be the focus of public discourse everywhere.