[AP photo by Gene J. Puskar]
There is nothing in our founding documents -- the Constitution or the Bill of Rights -- about the United States existing "under God." And, initially, there was no nod to god in the Pledge of Allegiance.
That latter came much later; in 1954 to be exact.
But if you ask the average person on the street, my guess would be that he or she would have no clue as to when the phrase "under God" was added to the Pledge of allegiance. Christianist rightists would have you believe that it's always been there.
Not so. And the reason it was added had little to do with any innate spirituality, but rather derived from our fear of the Soviet Union and our hope that God would somehow defend us against the Commie tyrants.
So, in 1952, a preacher by name of George M. Docherty, then the pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., gave a sermon in which he suggested that the Pledge of Allegiance should include a nod to God.
No one really noticed.
On February 7, 1954, Docherty decided to preach the same sermon when he discovered that President Dwight D. Eisenhower planned to attend services.
This time people paid attention. The Cold War was in full swing with all of its saber-rattling and what could be better than to put a nod to God in our Pledge, so as to better cover our collective asses.
On February 8, a Republican Congressman from Michigan, Charles Oakman, introduced a bill in the House of Representatives to include the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. A similar bill was introduced in the Senate. The bills passed and Ike signed the law adding the phrase to the Pledge on Flag Day in 1954.
Docherty died on Thanksgiving Day, 2008, at the age of 97. But the question as to whether his nod to God was effective in the dismantling of the Soviet Union remains unanswered. It sure as hell didn't keep Bush and the neocons out of the government -- the reason for most of our current troubles.
While Docherty may have been a very nice man - he did support Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Civil Rights movement and he opposed the war in Vietnam - his unconstitutional delusion about adding the phrase "under God" to the Pledge, was unfortunate. So, ultimately, we must say RIP and thanks for the good things. But we must also say, when it comes to the Pledge, thanks for nothing.