Special Book Review Section

The Pledge: One Nation Under God

William J. Murray, Living Ink Books, 2007, ISBN 0899570356, 179 pages, $14.99, softcover.

As July 4 approaches, Americans take time to reflect on our heritage of freedom in this country. Unfortunately, those freedoms (particularly of speech and religious practice) are being pushed back on many fronts. Recent court decisions have weakened the rights of American citizens to publicly acknowledge God. Such pronouncements defy logic when we reflect on how the founding fathers envisioned America-a nation where every citizen's rights come from God Himself.

William J. Murray, son of famed atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair, contends in his latest book, The Pledge: One Nation Under God, that recent legal attacks against the Pledge of Allegiance are part of a nationwide, coordinated effort spearheaded by the ACLU and militant atheists like Michael Newdow to change America's culture and government into totally secularized, godless entities.

Murray outlines the history of early-American settlers and their overall reliance upon God in every phase of life, and traces today's secular progression of American society using the pledge as a case study. He insists that a war is being waged not only for religious freedom, but also for freedom itself.

The Pledge of Allegiance was first published in 1892 and was widely recited in schools soon thereafter. It has been amended several times, and the most recent revision came in 1954 with the addition of the phrase "under God" following the words "one nation." This addition grew out of a desire to include a reference to Deity in keeping with the beliefs of America's founding fathers. The phrase "under God" was aptly chosen because Abraham Lincoln reportedly used the expression, "this Nation under God," in his "Gettysburg Address." Rep. Louis Rabault (D-MI), who first introduced a bill to permanently add the words to the pledge, stated:

"It is, therefore, most proper that in our salute to the flag, the patriotic standard around which we rally as Americans, we state the real meaning of the flag. From their earliest childhood our children must know the real meaning of America. Children and Americans of all ages must know that this is one nation in which under God' means liberty and justice for all' (Congressional Record, February 12, 1954)."

Murray, chairman of the Religious Freedom Coalition in Washington, DC, makes a thorough and well-documented case for our nation's Christian foundations and the continuation of Christian themes throughout our history. He devotes equal time, however to sounding the alarm to rouse Christians and conservatives to act in protection of their hard-won freedoms.

The protection of the Pledge of Allegiance and the phrase "under God" is just one battle in this overall war. Michael Newdow's legal case to remove "under God" from the pledge has been reincarnated and will likely go back to the Ninth Circuit Court in 2007 and almost inevitably resurface in the U.S. Supreme Court sometime thereafter.

This book serves well to remind Americans not to regard their freedoms lightly. Sometimes we need to be shaken to see just how valuable and fragile our position is.

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