Removing The Comma

By John Ballinger

June 15, 2015

When we think of the patriotic celebrations of summer, we generally think of the holidays of Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. However, there is one day that has become almost obscure in the calendar of many Americans.  That date is yesterday, June 14, Flag Day. It is a day set aside to honor the Stars and Stripes and the brave men and women who keep it flying freely.

 

Part of the way we honor that flag is through the Pledge of Allegiance:

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible with liberty and justice for all."

 

That is how the pledge of allegiance was recited before June 14, 1954. On that date, President Dwight Eisenhower signed a bill to add the words "under God" after one nation. The bill, however, did not add a comma. The phrase is meant to be said “…one nation under God…”; not “…one nation (comma) under God.”

 

I realize that many people pause when they get to the “under God” phrase because they were around when the words were added but sorry, folks, I don’t think that’s an excuse. I believe that we have inserted this imaginary comma that separates our nation from God in many other ways than just the Pledge of Alligance. Is it possible that the pause is symbolic of a nation that has grown away from its creator?

 

The founding Fathers knew that this new nation would not survive without dependence on knowing that there is a higher power looking over us. Both Washington and Jefferson in their inaugural addresses made note that God is the one who made the freedom we enjoy possible. Washington stated in his farewell address, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports.”

 

President Lincoln expressed his faith in a God that would treat us as we follow him when he said, “If we do not do right, I believe God will let us go our own way to ruin. But if we do right, I believe He will lead us safely out of this wilderness.”

 

Although these presidents never heard the Pledge of Allegiance the way it is recited today, I firmly believe that they would whole-heartedly approve of the way it is currently worded—one nation under God, a phrase without the comma.

 

In a few short weeks, we will see the colors red, white, and blue everywhere as we gather together to celebrate our national freedom—but in enjoying all this freedom and independence, have we also tried to become free from God? Have we taken him for granted as well? Statistics show that right after the attacks on September 11, church attendance grew. It seems we only turn to God when it serves our own best interests. Why else would church attendance rise when it isn’t until we feel physically threaten that we seek out a Higher Power?

 

The facts are these. A recent survey shows that 90 percent of all Americans born since 1964 have had no religious training. Think about that. Who are these 90 percent? They are the voters who place others in positions of power. They are the new leaders in the government. They are the new leaders controlling the media. They are the teachers of our children.

 

If at one time we were a nation so hot on God that we would include him in our Pledge of Allegiance, then we must admit we have cooled to lukewarm. 

 

Is it too late to change? No, I don’t believe it is, we are talking about removing a comma, not a period. A period might have shut out God altogether but I don’t believe it will be allowed to happen—but those of us who strongly believe in God are the ones who need to answer that call. We are the ones who must make a stand.

 

This nation will continue to be a nation under God as long as the men and women who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ spend time in prayer for the leaders of this country and continue to stand up for what is right, not in the eyes of the government or some special-interest group but in the eyes of God as he sheds his grace on us. Pray for our nation. It begins with praying for the people on your street and those at work; branch out to those in your community and your state and then beyond to the entire country. Pray for our leaders in all roles, large and small. Begin today to live your life like you believe we are still one nation under God.

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