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To Pledge or Not to Pledge

Historical Facts Behind the Writing of the Pledge of Allegiance 

What was the author's original intent behind the wording
of the pledge of allegiance to the US flag?

By Charles A. Jennings 

Generally, most Americans blindly accept our national values and traditions without question or doubt. Most twentieth century Americans have been so occupied with living the "good life" of ease, pleasure and materialism that they have neglected to safeguard their culture, Christian faith and philosophical heritage. Many strange ideas and foreign concepts have crept into the average American psyche without notice or question, and therefore have become mainstream thought patterns which set a standard whereby our society is governed. One example of this condition is the lack of knowledge concerning the history behind the writing of the Pledge of Allegiance to our National flag. Without doubt, the knowledge of most Americans concerning the writer, his political and social philosophy, his major objective and his long range influence in our national life would be considered slim to none. Through statist education we learn and accept without question what we are fed as long as it is seasoned with sugar-coated treats. In the midst of America's present cultural war it is imperative that we reexamine all of our "traditions" that have been accepted as part of American "patriotism." This we shall attempt to do with the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE which was born out of the concepts of political liberalism and "Christian Socialism." 

During the nineteenth century, America became deeply involved in a social, political, religious and philosophical warfare that was equivalent to the French Revolution. The opposing forces in this warfare were Biblical Christianity and constitutional government on one side and liberal Christianity and socialistic government on the other side. Among those who became proponents of the liberal and socialistic view were many prominent northern poets, philosophers, educators, editors and even Christian ministers. A Baptist minister of Boston, named Francis Bellamy (1855-1931) was one of those ministers. 

FRANCIS BELLAMY was born in Mount Morris, NY into the home of a Baptist minister, David Bellamy. As a child he was educated in the public schools of Rome, NY. In 1872 he entered the University of Rochester as a ministerial student. For his graduation commencement speech he spoke on "The Poetry of Human Brotherhood." In this speech he applauded the concepts of the French Revolution. He said it awakened man to a realization of his personal dignity and God-given rights. He soon began to advocate the French Revolutionary slogan of "Liberty, Equality and Fraternity." 

In 1876 Bellamy enrolled in the Rochester Theological Seminary. Upon graduation in 1880 he began his public ministry at the Baptist Church in Little Falls, NY and soon became involved with the National Prohibition Party. In 1885 he moved to accept the pastorate of the Dearborn Street Church in Boston which he later named Bethany Baptist Church. There he was involved with the social, religious, labor and economic problems of the city's poor factory workers. While pastor he gave a speech entitled "Jesus the Socialist" and a series of sermons on "The Socialism of The Primitive Church." 

Francis Bellamy's cousin Edward Bellamy was then famous as the author of the best sellers Looking Backward and Equality and was leader of a socialist movement called "Nationalism." Both books advocated a socialist utopian state with political, social and economic equality for all, operated by the federal government. Francis Bellamy was a vice president of the Christian Society of Socialists, an auxiliary of his cousin's "Nationalism" movement. In 1891 Bellamy was forced to resign from his Boston pastorate because the conservative businessmen of the "Committee on Christian Work of the Baptist Social Union" withheld additional funds for his work. The Committee complained of Bellamy's increased socialist sermons and activities. 

As a member of Bethany Baptist Church, Daniel Ford was a close friend and a strong supporter of Bellamy's socialist ideas. After his resignation, Bellamy joined the staff of  The Youth's Companion, a national Magazine owned and operated by Daniel Ford. After Ford's death, two million dollars of his fortune went to the Baptist Social Union of Boston, who built Ford Hall, the meeting place of Ford Hall Forum. It was a platform for the open discussion of controversial social, economic, political and religious issues. In 1928 a conservative Baptist group with the Daughters of the American Revolution charged the Forum with Promoting anti-Christian, un-American, socialistic and communistic ideas and the Forum was therefore denounced by the Boston Baptist Social Union. 

As a staff member of The Youth's Companion magazine, Bellamy was asked to help James B. Upham promote the National Public School Celebration for Columbus Day. In February 1892 Bellamy was also chosen as the National Education Association's (NEA) chairman for this celebration. James Upham was a prestigious member of "The Order of the Knight's Templar," the highest level of the York Rite of the Masonic order. Upham and Bellamy used this upcoming celebration to advance their concepts of American patriotism based upon Masonic beliefs, which were the promotion of state run secular public schools as opposed to church run religious education. Historically, the Masons have promoted the concept of the separation of church and state. 

This Celebration Day idea soon caught on and President Benjamin Harrison encouraged the nation to join in the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America on the 21st of October 1892. The Youth's Companion launched a campaign to have the national flag fly over every school house in the nation. They sold flags, had patriotic theme writing contests and programs to promote a patriotic sentiment in the nation in conjunction with the government sponsored public school system. 

Upham and Bellamy worked vigorously on the program schedule for this upcoming patriotic celebration. The program included the reading of President Harrison's Proclamation, prayer and Scripture reading, the singing of national songs and speeches based on patriotic themes. Bellamy himself wrote an address entitled, "The Meaning of Four Centuries." As a strong proponent of public education he stated "We assemble here that we, too, may exalt the free school that embodies the American principle of universal enlightenment and equality; the most characteristic product of our four centuries of American life. . . . One institution more than any other has wrought out the achievements of the past, and is today the most trusted for the future. Our fathers in their wisdom knew that the foundations of liberty, fraternity and equality must be universal education. The free school, therefore was conceived as the cornerstone of the Republic. Washington and Jefferson recognized that the education of citizens is not the prerogative of church or of other private interest; that while religious training belongs to the church, and while technical and higher culture may be given by private institutions--the training of citizens in the common knowledge and the common duties of citizenship belongs irrevocably to the State." 

Of all the contributions that Bellamy made to that 1892 national celebration, his writing of the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag has been the most lasting and influential. Up to this time the nation had no salute or pledge to its national symbol. In 1889 Colonel Balch had written a pledge for his New York City kindergarten class as follows: "We give our heads and our hearts to God and our country; one country, one language, one flag." Bellamy accepted the task of writing a new pledge which would promote his ideas of nationalism, patriotism. statism and socialism. Bellamy's original pledge was soon approved and accepted by Upham. Ford and the NEA, which reads as follows; "I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the Republic for which it stands: one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." The original salute to the flag was with the right arm outstretched and raised, not our present day right hand over the heart. 

In 1924 the National Flag Conference with the American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution changed the wording from "my flag" to "the flag of the United States of America." In 1954 Congress, with the influence of the Knights of Columbus added the words "under God." 

The wording which Bellamy used in the writing of his pledge was intended to weld together the mentality of all Americans in their allegiance to a centralized federal government. The word allegiance was taken from Lincoln's "Oath of Allegiance" for rebellious Southerners. The word "indivisible" was in opposition to the concept of secession which resulted in the War of 1861-1865. Both ideas were intended as propaganda tools for altering the minds of school children nationwide, and especially those of the South. Bellamy's idea of "liberty and justice for all" found in the 14th, 15th and 16th amendments were really substitute words that he felt forced to use instead of his desired slogan of the French Revolution, which was, "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity."  

Francis Bellamy as a "Christian Socialist" in conjunction with many other liberal thinkers and writers of his day favored a socialistic centralized federal government as opposed to traditional conservative Christianity and local government concepts of the South. He, along with his cousin Edward, became the heroes of John Dewey and other advocates of "progressive education;" which in one hundred years has resulted in producing a morally corrupt, anti-Christian, multi-cultural secular public school system which now openly opposes traditional Christian culture. 

Source: The Pledge of Allegiance, a Centennial History, by John Baer


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