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Today: Politics Way Out on the Fringe

Today: Politics Way Out on the Fringe

Ok, I have a cold so let’s keep it nice and light shall we. On Wednesday our House of Representatives, the shorter of our two great legislative pillars, decided that they do indeed have the power to exclude certain federally mandated or regulated practices from the federal court system. Wow! Didn’t know they could do that. And if that wasn’t enough for you, dear reader, take a wild guess as to what they chose to block from the courts . . . was it campaign finance laws or laws governing corporate contributions or Gun Control/Un-control laws? NO! The House approved (260-167) legislation barring federal courts from entertaining law suits challenging the constitutionality the phrase “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance as a violation of the basic tenants of secular governance (which are ensured by the federal courts).

Well, first of all, let us please take note that our money already says that we trust God – a significantly more graceful and eloquent summing up of our national character than a bunch of eight year olds hacking out the Pledge, substituting invisible for indivisible then sinking into some daydream about God-knows-what while they completely butcher the And Justice for All part.

Well superfluous or not, who cares, what matter really when dealing with God. Rep. Zack Wamp of Tennessee contends that, “We should not and cannot rewrite history to ignore our spiritual heritage.” True, so true, and a fine phrasing to boot, and, for the curious like me, begging the question: just from where exactly did this heritage come?

So I did some research. The phrase “Under God” was added by Congress to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954 at the request of the immensely popular President Eisenhower. In his speech, Eisenhower declared: “From this day forward, the millions of our schoolchildren will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural schoolhouse, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty.” I didn’t add an exclamation point out of prudence, but I’m sure there was one.

Eisenhower, in his turn, was inspired to make the addition by a certain Rev. George Docherty who in February of 1954 pointed out to his congregation (of which Eisenhower was one) that “Apart from the mention of the phrase ‘the United States of America,’ it could be the pledge of any republic. In fact, I could hear little Muscovites repeat a similar pledge to their hammer-and-sickle flag in Moscow.” Quite right, quite right.

We continue! Luckily for us, Rev. Docherty was still alive in 2002 and, at the age of ninety-one, chose to share with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette what thunderbolt of inspiration had imbued him with the words powerful enough to move a President and infuse the American school age vernacular with the Almighty, God.

In his interview he explained that he was convinced that American children should begin saying “Under God” by the Scottish King. He explains: “I was brought up in Scotland, and in Scotland, we sang, ‘God save our gracious king.’ It was everybody’s belief that God was part of society.”

Unfortunately dear readers, our trail cools here. I tried to follow, but was immediately lost in the thick murky fog of Constantines and Alpeans and Eochaids and Girics and Dunkelds and Morays and Balliols and Bruces and Stewarts and of course MacBeths. Just which Scottish King, we shall sadly never know.

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