Roundup: Historians' Take
John J. McKay: Palin gets her history wrong (If English was good enough for Jesus it's good enough for me)
When Sarah Palin was running for governor in 2006, Eagle Forum, the anti-abortion group run by Phyllis Schlafly, sent a questionnaire to the candidates. Most of her answers were those desired by the group. She would allow abortion only to save the life of the mother (that is, opposed it even for rape and incest). Thought parents should be able to pull their kids out of any school classes that used books or taught information they disagreed with. Favored abstinence-only sex education ,school vouchers, and guns. Opposed hate-crime laws, legalized gambling, benefits for same-sex spouses, and gay marriage. But one answer stands out for its sheer silliness.
Q: Are you offended by the phrase "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why or why not?
A: Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me and I’ll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance.
Let's take this one from the top. None of the founding fathers ever said the pledge. It was written long after they were all dead. The first version was written by the Christian Socialist Francis Bellamy (the brother of utopian novelist Edward Bellamy) in 1892. The words were tinkered with a few times during his lifetime, but never included "Under God." Those were added in 1954 by an act of Congress at the request of the Catholic fraternal organization, the Knights of Columbus. The KC wanted the change to get more God into our public life to highlight the difference between the US and the godless Soviet Union.
This is not a bit of historical trivia. The story of the evolution of the pledge has been told in the press countless times over the last half dozen years while various court cases have kept the pledge, and issues of religion in public schools, in the public eye. Anyone who is well informed on current events or politics--like the governor of a state--should have a passing familiarity with this story.
Posted on Monday, September 1, 2008 at 7:36 PM